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Straight Down To It! #ADA


ADA 3.0 Fellows, Rachael Dodd and Jane Elliott, are from Yorkshire Artspace.  With their main annual ‘Open Studios’ event due to take place less than a month after their initial meeting with their mentor, Pauline Bailey, they were feeling as if they would be faced with a very short lead in to their ADA experiment.  Would they be able to get them in place in time?

We had some ideas in place about things we would like to do differently this year and were looking forward to using the ADA as an excuse to try some new things and focus on what we wanted to achieve.


Defining our Target Audience

After chatting to our mentor, Pauline, we decided that the under represented audience we would like to attract, that aligned with our organisation goals, was young people (aged 25 and under)

* specifically, approx. 16-20 years studying/interested in Art & Design

* especially those in areas with low take up of the city’s cultural offer

This process really made us think about our event and what we were hoping to attract these young people to: What would they see? What would their experience be? We tried to ‘see our event through their eyes’ and thought about how we might frame the event to make it more interesting, relevant and appropriate to young people’s needs.


The Experiment

The scrappy experiment thus became a guided tour of each studio building for young people on each day of our Open Studios event. We wanted to make young people feel especially welcome, able to ask questions, and sure that this event was for them. In order to put this in place, we contacted a sixth form college which we already have a good relationship with, in a deprived area of the city, and went to speak to them about what we do at Yorkshire Artspace, get an idea on the kinds of things they would like to see, and invite them in for a tour during our Open Studios weekend.



Our objectives were to increase awareness (especially in young people), strengthen existing partners and give a small number of young people a quality experience, meaning they would be more likely to return the next year.


Did we achieve them?

So, in brief, we did achieve our goals with our first experiment. We visited a Sixth Form college in a deprived area of the city, talked to approx. 30 students telling them all about Open Studios. Ten people signed up and came on an hour-long tour of the studio building with me. They seemed to have a great time (as did I!) and they all said they would love to visit again next year.


What did we learn?

As for learning so far, we were surprised by a comment from the tutor at college that the students independent computer skills were not very good, suggesting that putting the tickets on Eventbrite might have been a barrier- we had previously assumed all young people to be better than us with technology!

We also found it easy (ish) to go into the College, talk to the students, and come to our event at very short notice. We had previously thought them getting into town, and indeed asking students to do anything ‘extra curricular’ would be very difficult, yet we did this with only 3 weeks lead in time.

In hindsight, I wish I had given the tour participants the wifi password immediately, and asked them to use a hashtag, or had thought more carefully about how to record the responses of the young people. Perhaps a survey afterwards? Overall, I think it went very well and look forward to building on this approach, perhaps inviting other students to our exhibitions in the year ahead.