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Cornwall Museums Partnership

GEM Conference 2022 - Culture Card and the Museum of Carefree

In our latest blog, we hear from CMP’s Engagement Lead, Celine Elliott, who was recently asked to present a paper at the GEM conference on the work CMP is involved in with Carefree Cornwall and the Culture Card.

I was thrilled to be asked by GEM (Group for Education in Museums) to present a paper at the recent conference reflecting on the valuable lessons learned from working with children in care and young people leaving care, in and with museums in Cornwall. This has happened principally through our work on Culture Card; a card which has been created by and with young people in and leaving care, that enables free access to the sites who sign up for it, in partnership with local charity Carefree Cornwall.

The project started at Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance, then (through the ACE-supported consortium we work with, and thanks to additional funding from Cornwall Council) was able to expand to other sites across Cornwall. Young people visited museums and galleries, made and displayed artwork, and also learned about potential creative career opportunities thanks to partnering with local creative enterprises. In addition, a care-experienced young person was employed as an apprentice.

More recently, with funding from the Ragdoll Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, and Cornwall Council, the ‘Museum of Carefree’ project has been developing an exhibition of work made by young people working with artist Emma ‘Saffy’ Wilson, which will open at Penlee House in December. This explores the creativity of the young people, celebrates the partnership Culture Card has established and will inform visitors about the lives of young people in and leaving care and the support Carefree Cornwall provides.

Fundamentally, the lessons we have learned have come through careful listening to our potential partners; from our partner, Carefree Cornwall, we heard that museums could play a practical role – be it through warm and welcoming places to meet, eat and create, or sometimes simply being somewhere young people feel confident popping into in order to use the bathroom! We heard how we can provide inspirational venues for young people and staff alike with events and meetings now regularly taking place in museums and galleries in Cornwall. We heard from young people how to provide a warm welcome to everyone, irrespective of their circumstances, to the benefit of everyone. We heard that our museum partners are eager to open their doors and play a role in the lives of the young people we are so fortunate to connect with through Culture Card and the Museum of Carefree.

The Culture Card project has recently been replicated across the border in Devon, thanks to support from Barnado’s, and we are keen to support anyone elsewhere who would like to build on our learning and see what happens when they listen carefully to children and young people in and leaving care where they are.

– Celine Elliott, CMP Engagement Lead

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