A GROUP of young Wearsiders has won a prestigious award for its work in planning, co-producing and running cultural events in the city.
The Celebrate Different Collective scooped a Marsh Volunteer Award for its work with, and for, young people in Sunderland.
The British Museum and the Marsh Charitable Trust have been working in partnership for the fifteenth year of the Volunteers for Museum Learning award which recognises the hugely important contribution volunteers make to help museums engage with their visitors.
Supported by Sunderland Culture, the Celebrate Different Collective is a group of young people aged between 13 and 25, who meet weekly to co-produce and run its own events as well as working with artists and learning new practical skills. It was set up in June 2019 and its members are united on a mission to get their voices heard and to inspire other young people across Sunderland.
The group’s recent activity has included:
- Proggy Pride Party was a fun, inclusive, accessible and sensory safe pride event for LGBTQIA+ young adults and their allies. Designed to engage young people with their local heritage, Proggy Pride Party was an evening event at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens with artist workshops, clothing swaps and object handling from the collection.
- Curating Arts Centre Washington’s annual Youth Arts Exhibition Bright Lights
- The Bright Lights Remixed Exhibition at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, which saw Celebrate Different celebrating the past 25 years of the youth arts award at Arts Centre Washington through new and existing artworks from young people from across Sunderland.
- Where There’s Space to Grow was an exhibition curated by Celebrate Different, using work from Arts Council collection as well as newly commissioned work. The exhibition creatively reflected on the industrial decline of the 1980s in North East England, while looking ahead to a shared progressive future.
Now the group’s work has recognised by a 2022 Marsh Volunteer Award. The awards recognise individuals and organisations who devote their lives to improving the world today and in the future. The Marsh Awards programme is managed in association with key partners including the Zoological Society of London, English Heritage, Barnardo’s, the Refugee Council and the British Museum.
The aim of the Volunteers for Museum Learning award is to recognise volunteers who engage directly with museum visitors in any capacity. This could involve leading a school group, helping with family activities, running a guided tour or any number of other ways in which volunteers provide support to museum visitors.
Georgie Donkin, a Celebrate Different Collective member, said: “The Marsh Awards were a landmark achievement for me and my group, it was such an honour and it opens up so many doors for me and my career as a young person.”
Sarah Saunders, Head of Learning and National Partnerships at the British Museum, said: “Volunteering brings so many benefits to the nation’s museums and galleries and the communities they serve, helping to promote health and well-being, and learning and enjoyment.
“Volunteering brings so many benefits to those people who generously give their time freely, from making new friends to gaining confidence in a new skill. I’m sure that this year’s Marsh Awards winners will inspire new volunteer projects giving people across the country increased opportunities to get involved in supporting their local museum.”
The Celebrate Different Collective won its award for work completed in the North East and North West region. The winners each receive a cash prize of £500, donated by the Marsh Charitable Trust. One overall national winner receives an additional £2,000. The judges consisted of staff from the Marsh Trust, staff and volunteers from the British Museum and a representative from Beamish Museum, County Durham.
Jennie Lambert, Public Engagement and Learning Manager at Sunderland Museums and Heritage Service, said: “We’re delighted and proud that the Celebrate Different Collective won this prestigious award. These future leaders in the arts sector make a real difference in the city – creating some brilliant events, but also providing an authentic voice for young Wearsiders. The group also inspires young people, encouraging them to engage in arts activities and events.
“Members are from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience, but they work so hard for the benefit of young people across the city. The Collective had a fabulous day at the awards event, which was held at the British Musuem – and it was brilliant that its contribution has been recognised and celebrated.”
Brian Marsh OBE founded the Marsh Charitable Trust in 1981 – he is the organisation’s current Chair. His aim was to create a sustainable way of giving something back to society by supporting organisations and people working in their communities. The Trust supports about 400 charities annually through its grants programme and gives about 100 different awards to individuals and groups who make a difference to a cause they believe in.