Hope Happens in the North West – Curious Minds

Hope Happens in the North West

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Hope Happens as Curious Minds Connects Museums and Young People


Cultural education charity, Curious Minds, has delivered a project designed to facilitate youth engagement with five North West museums through location-specific public arts events called ‘Hope Happenings’.
The five Hope Happenings took place in Winsford, Carlisle, Gawthorpe Hall, Bolton and Sefton during April and were devised as part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported Hope Streets initiative. Hope Streets is a five-year programme that aims to transform young people’s experience of museums and to encourage participation from the 11-25 age range. It has been developed in partnership with Youth Focus North West and Museum Development North West and made possible through a £977,000 grant thanks to National Lottery players. The five museums involved were: West Cheshire Museums, Tullie House Museum, Lancashire Museums, Bolton Museum and The Atkinson.

The Hope Happenings were informed by a wide-ranging consultation with young people in the region. This revealed that, despite their interest in how the past has influenced the present and can affect the future, they but feel formal heritage attractions are not relevant for them.

Saul Argent, Hope Streets Project Co-ordinator at Curious Minds explains: “The idea was to make young people the driving force behind a series of cultural events, taking inspiration from the past to bring their ideas to the streets of their local communities in partnership with local museums.”

Each Hope Happening involved local young people and a youth artist collective, called Frog + Bone, leading to the creation of a pop-up museum and community parade. Each museum worked with the young people to support their exploration of local heritage and facilitate collaboration with Frog + Bone to create puppets and props for the events using recycled materials.

By delivering publicly accessible ‘Happenings’, the initiative also provided a catalyst for involving more young people in the Hope Streets programme. Saul Explains: “The Hope Streets initiative aims to take the hope behind the name of the Hope Street within every UK town and city and translate it into an understanding of local heritage for young people. The idea is that encouraging them to engage with local heritage and culture enables them to put their own cultural experience into context and play an active role in developing heritage services for their generation and beyond.”

After engaging more than 40 young people in developing the Hope Happenings, the museums will now develop these relationships and use learning from the events to recruit young people for leadership roles in the organisation of five ‘Festivals of Hope’, which will take place in 2020.

Comments Louise Window, Libraries and Learning Team Leader at Bolton Library and Museum Service: “We want to put young people at the centre of museum development to ensure that we remain relevant, engaging and attractive to teenagers and young adults. The Hope Happenings have provided a forum for young people to give us their take on what heritage and community means to them, which will feed into the wider activities planned for the Hope Streets initiative.”

The five Hope Happenings events were:

  • Saturday 6th April, Winsford, Cheshire (supported by West Cheshire Museums)
  • Monday 8th April, Carlisle (supported by Tullie House)
  • Wednesday 10th April, Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire (supported by Lancashire Museums)
  • Saturday 13th April, Bolton (supported by Bolton Museum)
  • Wednesday 17th April, Bootle, Sefton (supported by The Atkinson)

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