Executive Summary of The External Evaluation of Our Work

SPARK’s mission is to ensure that every child and young person in Wakefield, whatever their background, will be inspired to take part, enjoy and benefit from the rich arts and cultural experiences across the district. They intend to be an advocate for the value of arts, culture and creativity, removing barriers and raising awareness with schools and families to support access both in and out of formal education.

SPARK is the Local Cultural Education Partnership (LCEP) for Wakefield and is made up of a group of individuals and organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors, working to ensure that children and young people across the borough can enjoy, benefit from and progress in arts and culture. The partnership was formally established, with support from IVE, Yorkshire and Humber’s Arts Council England (ACE) Bridge organisation, in March 2016.

In September 2022, SPARK received funding from ACE’s Partnership Investment (PI) and Cultural Development Fund (CDF) grant, provided by Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and managed by ACE, to enable the LCEP to create capacity and undertake research, planning, development and evaluation. SPARK successfully recruited two key roles to develop two core strands of the LCEP over the past year.

Creative Voice Coordinator explored barriers faced by young people in engaging with arts and culture and potential solutions to overcome these barriers. She focused on creating pathways for young people to actively participate in shaping Wakefield’s artistic and cultural landscape through the Youth Arts Ambassador programme and LitFest 2023.

Culture on Your Doorstep Coordinator designed and delivered a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) programme for teachers. She supported teachers in developing a place-based curriculum relevant to young people in the Wakefield district, and also conducted a pilot project with four schools, bringing together teachers, freelance artists, and cultural organisations.

Over the past year Earthen Lamp has been working with SPARK to support data collection at delivery level, as well as conducting a structured organisational review to support the sustainable development of the LCEP going forward. This report summarises the learning points gained from these programmes and makes suggestions for changes and next steps to be taken by SPARK.