Family events programme shortlisted for national award

08 September 2021

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’ ‘Ways to Play’ family activity programme has been shortlisted for the Best Family Arts Activity in the Fantastic for Families Awards 2021. 

Now in its eighth year, the awards celebrate the extraordinary creativity and resilience that the cultural sector has shown during the global pandemic.

Ways to Play was created to bring fun, accessible museum activities to families at home, as well as reaching out to families who don’t traditionally engage with museums and galleries whilst venues were closed during the pandemic.   

The content was inspired by different ways of playing and used active prompt words, for example: invent, imagine, discover, make, design, pretend, draw, decode, create, look and build.  

The activities were designed following the principles that: they had to be rooted in museum collections; they had to be accessible and simple for children to follow independently; they had to be inexpensive allowing children to use readily available household materials to complete the activity; and, they had to be fun.  

In total, 15,000 activity booklets were printed and these were distributed directly to families via local councils, libraries, schools and community hubs and all of the activities were also shared online. 

Since the museums and galleries reopened in July 2021, Ways to Play events have been delivered in venues and the summer programme was sponsored by Tyne and Wear Metro to promote their new ‘kids travel for free’ scheme  

Clare Smith, Learning & Engagement Manager for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: 

“Ways to Play fostered a spirit of collaboration across our venues and we now have a successful platform to build on in the future. We have consulted with a family panel and we are using their feedback to develop and extend Ways to Play to become a regular feature of our offer in venues now they are open again. 

“We're really excited that we’ve been shortlisted for this award and recognised for the work we do to engage thousands of children and young people.” 

Anna Dever, Head of Family Arts Campaign said:

“After such a challenging year, the Fantastic for Families Awards are a brilliant opportunity to celebrate the creativity, innovation and resilience that the arts and cultural sector has shown during the pandemic. The organisations nominated, and all those who applied, are wonderful examples of how creativity and cultural engagement can bring joyful moments of collaboration and connectivity in difficult times.”

Tonya Nelson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, said:

“Culture and creativity have helped uplift, entertain and unite families of all backgrounds and ages over the course of the pandemic. This is largely thanks to our country’s great cultural organisations and individual creatives who, during this challenging time, have embraced new opportunities to innovate and adapt their activities to safely reach audiences. Many with support from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

We’re so pleased that this year’s Fantastic for Families Awards are able to recognise some of this brilliant work and we’d like to congratulate all organisations recognised on the shortlist.”

The winners will be announced in November 2021.