MaxLiteracy Awards: inspiring writing through art

Ronda Gowland-PrydeMMUe

This panel discussion focuses on the conference panel themes of: inequalities: working-class literature, language and creative writing; regional differences; access to literature and social capital through the MaxLiteracy Awards 2018-19 programe.

The MaxLiteracy Awards
The inaugural Max Reinhardt Literacy Awards were initiated and funded by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust in 2014. With the support of the National Association of Gallery Education (Engage) and the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), the awards have developed into a biennial programme enabling galleries, art museums and visual arts venues in England to support dedicated creative writing and literacy work with schools through art.

Exploring case study examples from the 2018-19 projects: Steel Stories at Kirkleatham Museum and Stories Inside from The Whitworth, panelists share learning and experiences from galleries and museums that have collaborated with writers and schools through the MaxLiteracy Awards in innovative ways. Hear Creative Writers, Gallery-Educators and programme stakeholders talk about what makes MaxLiteracy unique in supporting the creative writing development of young people in a variety of different contexts from developing literacy with boys through intergenerational place-based poetry, to Mental Health and Wellbeing, inspired by Outsider Art.

Kirkleatham Museum - Steel Stories
Teesside communities are a repository for a rich local history, founded on iron and steel, spanning over 170 years. Through Steel Stories Roadshows, the project engaged communities in collecting memories, memorabilia, material culture, artefacts, stories and knowledge in capturing this shared heritage. The project combined new findings, academic expertise and existing archive material, co-curating an exhibition at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar. The exhibition ultimately represented the community-led celebration of iron and steel, and was launched in April 2019 to universal acclaim, particularly from the same former steelworkers and their families, but also further afield.

Steel Stories aimed to create an intergenerational dialogue developing boys writing for audience and purpose through working with a nationally recognised creative writer. Students developed skills in writing accurately, fluently, effectively and at length through writing scripts for new audio resources used in Steel Stories – a new exhibition at Kirkleatham Museum in 2019. The Steel Stories photographs and painting resonated with students and encouraged them to explore Redcar’s community identity and their own reaction to the way the steel industry has been a cornerstone of the town. As a result of the programme, students gained skills in their choice of vocabulary, writing flowing narrative and in creative presentation skills: dramatic reading, clear diction and taking pride in their work.

The Whitworth - Stories Inside
Inspired by visual images Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection at the Whitworth this project aimed to support mental health literacy amongst students. Working with a class of 30 Year 9 pupils, using the collection as a catalyst, the aim of the project was to improve students’ confidence and imagination in GCSE creative writing, and to pull pupils away from exam driven outcomes, allowing them to look within and enjoy writing without pressure. Throughout the sessions there was an overall focus on mindfulness and wellbeing.

Veronica Reinhardt (Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust)
Jane Sillis (Director, Engage)
Dr Kate Fox (Creative Writer – Kirkleatham Museum)
Denise Bowler (Secondary and FE Coordinator, The Whitworth)

Sat 9:15 am - 10:30 am