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Artswork, 10 years as the South East Bridge

Celebrating a decade of children and young people, arts and culture

From 2012 to Spring 2023, Artswork worked as the South East Bridge, part of the national network of Arts Council England Bridge organisations. For over 10 years we have worked with schools, art organisations, museums, libraries, music education hubs, local authorities, further education and higher education Institutions, and many other partners, to develop cultural provision for children and young people. This project has now come to an end, but we’re incredibly proud of the work we achieved and the difference that it has made to young people. 

As the South East Bridge we

Enabled 473,515 children and young people to have arts and cultural experiences

Supported 73 schools led programmes

Worked with 2,446 schools

And 2,331 organisations

Aided the development of 16 Cultural Education Partnerships

Supported 1,013 Artsmark schools

 Invested in 14,104 children and young people achieving their Arts Awards



10 years of working with Artswork

Emma Cairns, Director of STEAM & Head of Art and Technology, Bridgemary School

I first heard about Artwork from their South East Schools Arts Newspaper, it happened to appear in my pigeon hole at work! I recall taking it to a local cafe at the weekend to read with a coffee after a coastal walk and to my delight seeing an article about STEAM. Knowing the work we had just embarked on at Bridgemary School in creating a cross-curricula STEAM project I emailed the contact – Education Development Manager Lorraine Cheshire – and to my delight she responded asking to come visit the school and see our creative outcomes. The rest is history…

As soon as I met Lorraine, I knew I had met a like-minded creative, and since that meeting she has continued to champion the Arts and the STEAM work we have been pioneering at Bridgemary. She has been a true ally to me and the school, and offered the subject specific support and advice that makes a real impact in the work that I am doing. It has been this connection that continues to drive my passion for creativity and education!


Highlights of my work with Artswork include:


Being asked to lead the STEAM secondary network. This led to the creation of Artswork’s STEAM toolkit, and making it a legacy resource was my first highlight. I still refer teachers to this toolkit as a reference point of various STEAM projects in both Primary and Secondary Schools.


Achieving Artsmark Gold status as a school. Working against our Statement of Commitment as a school, demonstrating the rich outcomes that creativity and the arts were having in driving our culture and bringing the school together in a unified vision. The Statement of Impact demonstrated the journey we had been on as a school, including supporting our school trust (TKAT) through Joint Professional Days where I was able to share with other teachers in the trust our work around STEAM and how Artsmark contributes to our school priorities.


Being a mentor for the Creative Steps programme has ignited my passion for STEAM allowing me to share this knowledge through mentoring and action learning sets with a primary teacher who is in the first years of the profession. Supporting them through mentoring in creating STEAM projects for both KS1 and KS2, making links to us as their feeder secondary school and expanding their access to networking in the community. Uniting us in developing STEAM projects in Gosport in both Primary and Secondary Schools is having a real impact through the Arts in our community.


Supporting pupils to achieve Arts Award, one of their first qualifications from Trinity College London, gives them a sense of achievement for their hard work. One of the best parts of the Arts Award for me is seeing the young people share their skills with others.


For me working with Artswork has made me more reflective and evaluative as a practitioner. Continuing to challenge the constraints of education to create work that champions all and leading projects where pupils are able to grow as creatives and flourish in their courage and abilities. It has impacted on my outlook, I question the ‘why’ of the projects pupils complete – ensuring that their curriculum is broad and balanced, but also rooted in the culture and heritage of the local community. This has meant putting the subject into the context of our location on the South Coast, and giving them ownership and knowledge of their community.


Map of the schools we have worked with


Map of the organsations we have worked with

Top Case Studies chosen by the Bridge Team

Opening accessibility to and through arts and culture…

…in the classroom

Education Development Manager, Eleanor recommends Reading Schools Connect with Jelly Arts

“The children got fantastic experiences that gave the opportunity to work with different media and artforms and meet ‘real’ artists. The model developed built in CPD for the staff, growing their confidence and skills so making outcomes robust and sustainable.”

Read the case study


And Strategic Manager, Ruth recommends Oxfordshire’s ‘Feeling Safe’ programme

“Picked up and publicised by Arts Professional, it’s a great example of power of arts to support wellbeing and mental health. Good quotes from children and young people and artists as to how this helped.”

Find out more


…in the community

Strategic Manager, Ruth recommends our Creative Climate Change work

“Great set of creative resources co-produced from these workshops on a very important issue of climate change. Targeted at families with SEND children which often miss out on activities.”

Explore the resources


And the Oxfordshire programme ‘Being Other’

“Evidence based research by Oxford University on the value of two art based approaches for excluded children and young people and those on the margins.   OYAP and Pegasus Youth Theatre. One of the conclusions is that the drama based approach helps CYP reimagine their lives and move towards more positive valuing of themselves and their abilities.”

Read more


…in careers

As part of their Kickstart placements with Artswork, young people Hannah, Sophie and Basil were commissioned by Southampton Cultural Education Partnership to explore and research youth voice – compiling a zine that outlines best practice for working with young people in arts and culture. In their words:


We think Zines are a creative way of presenting information, with origins rooted in activism, and emphasis that with inclusion of youth voice comes new and creative ways of doing things. In the research and compilation of this zine, we were able to use our experiences as young people to inform our understanding of what young people want and need from arts and cultural organisations.

Download the zine


Strategic Manager Ruth recommends Future Views

“This is a great toolkit. Lots of information which CEPs can use with young people to discuss future creative careers. Also lots of tips as to how CEPs can help create change. Works well with a facilitator running the session with the children and young people too.

Explore the toolkit


Developing and sustaining partnerships…

…in the community

Strategic Manager, Lucy recommends Lift The Lid on the Isle of Wight

“The project engaged thousands, reigniting a sense of pride and passion in culture heritage on the Isle of Wight”

Find out more 


and The ICE Project

“ [The programme] demonstrated the impact of arts for wellbeing activity to Hampshire CAMHS and led to their continued support”.

Read more


Strategic Manager Ruth recommends Six Ways to Wellbeing

“This was one of our early PIFs in Kent. It used the 5 ways to wellbeing as a basis for interventions to support mental health – adding a 6th environmental one. I have use this evaluation a number of times as back up information when talking to mental health professionals on what is possible using arts and culture to support mental health in children and young people.”

Read the project evaluation


…in the classroom

The Eastbourne STEAM Network was a partnership of local schools and arts and cultural organisations that worked together to explore the impact of plastics on our beaches and marine life. Education Development Manager Jane Dickson said:


This programme was led by an alliance of Eastbourne schools with Photoworks and STEM Sussex. It saw art and science teachers collaborating with photographers and marine ecologists to help the students learn why urgent change is needed to protect our oceans and coastlines from plastic pollution.

Read the case study

Discovering success, empowerment and joy through arts and culture…

…in the classroom

Strategic Manager, Ruth recommends Milton Keynes’ You, Me, Together

“ Originally conceived to support public health and MK CCG  understand how children talked about their mental health, This programme had a really powerful impact on the CYP taking part. Through drama based interventions the young people learned about their own and others mental health. They learned about reading emotions from facial expressions, dealing with their emotions, helping their friends etc. The film is just a small part of the programme which took place and gives a flavour of the drama work that was used.”

Find out more


And  Milton Keynes Young Creatives – Artswork

“This programme was developed to build the employability and skills of MK Young People through arts engagement, working with MK college as a partner. Great example of supported co-creation by young people in MK. First starting by opening up to them the lives and careers of local artists. Then enabling them to choose the art forms they wanted to explore and co-create art which was showcased at the MK Art in the Park festivals.”

Read more


…in the community

In Kent, the Playground has seen artists work with babies and young children, aged up to 24 months, in Kent Libraries. Strategic Manager, Bea, said:

The overall effect was that of an organic, evolving creative session where babies responded to and made sound, played with everyday objects, and interacted with artists and their parents/carers. It was very impactful to see communication other than speech being centred and promoted, and the range of non-verbal communication engaged in by everyone in the session was remarkable.

Find out more

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