A partnership, for the purposes of this guide, is a mutually beneficial relationship, in which the partners agree on a common purpose, contribute in different but equal ways, and in which the risks and rewards are shared.
Partnerships bring more resources and expertise to projects, enable creative and innovative solutions to issues, develop the skills and capacity of both partners and expand the practices of the partners.
Generally, there are three models, of engagement for creative education projects, they range from simple transactional partnerships to deep collaborative partnerships.
Delivery Model: A creative organisation tours its show Earthlings and workshop incursion program to a primary school. Supporting information includes a teacher’s kit with suggested curriculum links, classroom activities and extension tasks.
Tailoring Model: A creative organisation and school identify some great links between the show Earthlings and the school's curriculum unit on sustainability. The workshop program is tailored to have a sustainability focus.
Collaborative Model: A creative organisation and school identify that they are both interested in exploring the theme of Natural Forces. Together they design a creative process integrated into curriculum, which supports the creation of a performance in the community by artists, teachers and students.
Both the Delivery and Tailoring models can result in excellent outcomes for learning in and through the arts. The Collaborative model, however, offers diverse and flexible ways to engage, which can result in a much richer experience for all.
So what does collaborative practice look like?
People who collaborate effectively…
- Bring an attitude of goodwill and give-and-take
- Communicate freely, honestly and respectfully
- Share their ideas and are willing to support the ideas of others
- Are flexible in their approach
- Take equal responsibility for the risks and rewards
- Share the workload equitably
- Acknowledge one another's expertise and efforts
- Find ways to plan, deliver and reflect together as much as possible
Are we ready to partner?
A partnership between a creative professional or organisation and a school, will require an investment of thinking, planning and resources to make it worthwhile. Before you begin, make sure that a partnership project is appropriate for you/your organisation and that you have the capacity to support it.
You will need to consider your own or your organisation's:
Drivers: Your reasons and need for a partnership project
Capacity: The time, resources, energy and money required to run a project properly
Qualities: The behaviours you will need to bring to ensure your project is positive and worthwhile.
Before embarking on a partnership project, download this planning tool and work through the checklist of drivers, capacity and qualities to identify the strengths and gaps in your partnership readiness.
Finding a partner - For Teachers, Principals and Schools
Consider your priorities when looking for a creative partner - do you want someone with links to the local area? Who works in a particular creative discipline? Or who is exploring subject matter that could connect with your group of students?
To get the best creative and educational outcomes for all involved, Creative Victoria recommends you partner with a practicing creative professional or organisation. Local galleries, arts advocacy groups, local councils and parents may provide links to possible artists.
Once you have identified a creative professional or organisation, some good questions to ask are:
- Why do you want to work with a school?
- Have you had experience working with groups like this?
- Can you tell us a bit about your training or learning experiences as a creative?
- Could you show us some examples or reviews of your work?
- Please describe your creative process?
- What activities and processes might you offer to students and teachers?
- What challenges have you faced working in collaboration with others or when working with young people?
- Do you have, or can you obtain a Working with Children Check?
Finding a partner - For Creative Professionals and Organisations
A creative professional or organisation can directly approach a school to gauge interest in participating in a project together. It is suggested that the creative make an appointment with the school principal or curriculum coordinator, remembering that the demands on principals and teachers’ time are often very high.
Before approaching a school, consider how the school's needs and strategic priorities might compliment your practice and interests. Is strengthening the arts curriculum a priority? Is the school hoping to engage families more strongly in school life? If you can identify how a collaborative partnership might work for both the school and for you, it can be easier to create some shared goals.
When you meet, some good questions to ask principals and teachers are:
- What are you hoping to achieve through a partnership?
- What level of support for a project can the school commit to?
- Is there flexibility around the curriculum and timetable to accommodate a project?
- Who might coordinate the project in the school?
- How many students might be involved?
- Has your school previously worked with professional creatives?
Sometimes it can seem that teachers and artists speak a different language, to ensure you are on the same page, download these planning tools.
Your concept - an artistic framework
Your concept is the what, the how and the why of the ideas, processes and rationale that will drive your project.
It should be simple enough to explain to a parent or interested colleague in just a few sentences, and it should be rich enough to engage all the project participants, especially yourself!
A statement to describe your concept would include:
What? the big ideas, the focus for exploration, the juicy questions and how these ideas might be expressed in a 'creative outcome' - will it be a performance? exhibition? installation? or a work-in-progress showing?
How? not just what your project is about, but how you will use the elements of the creative discipline and curriculum to support and express ideas. Consider the artistic processes and learning activities that will advance your project.
Why? the relevance of the ideas and artistic processes to all participants andthe reason it is relevant.
Creatives, teachers, principals and students can all contribute to the creation of a project concept.
You may also like to think in terms of:
Learning in the Arts - specific knowledge, skills and processes. Understanding different creative disciplines. Learning how to develop a creative concept, execute it and present it. Developing knowledge of the social, cultural and historical context of discipline and reflection upon and criticism of creative works.
Learning through the Arts - the arts as a lens through which to ask questions, engage in experiential learning about a topic or issue, synthesise ideas into different formats, generate personal responses to research or inquiry and create work which expresses new thoughts, learnings or ideas for an audience.
Below are two film clips and further information about how to frame your idea.
The Artistic Concept - Getting It!
In this film resource, artists and teachers who have undertaken a creative partnership project talk about "What makes a strong artistic concept?", highlighting how an open and flexible relationship is central in terms of 'getting' to a good concept.
Download video transcript (TXT, 12.2 KB - right click and 'save as')
The Perfect Moment - A Case Study
Download video transcript (TXT, 5.3 KB - right click and 'save as')
This film resource is a case study of a project at Elmore Primary School with creative Jens Altheimer and the Women's Circus, looking at the concept of The Perfect Moment.