Young People

We are committed to supporting young people from our area of Withywood and Hartcliffe in south Bristol, who have an interest in any art form. We do this through Arts Award courses, by providing work experience and creative mentoring and by running creative projects such as this dance performance project or this mural design project

We are an accredited Arts Award Centre and can deliver all levels of Arts Award including Bronze, Silver and Gold.

We provide Year 10 work experience for young people from Withywood and Hartcliffe, and mentor young people with creative interests who ask us for support.

We were selected to join the Bristol + Bath Creative R&D Expanded Performance research cohort in 2020 and used this time to explore our interest in creative projects for young people that included technology. This uncovered a wider research interest about the issues of knowledge sharing between creative organisations.

For schools, we provide specialist devised theatre training for GCSE Drama students.

We have an ongoing commission with B&NES Hospital Education and Reintegration Service to provide creative engagement consultancy and activity for their young people. This project is called The Hive Totem Collective.

Arts Award

Photography: Anisha Blake
Photography: Anisha Blake
Photography: Oliver Bouchier
Photography: Oliver Bouchier
Street photography session with tutor Shelby Alexander
Street photography session with tutor Shelby Alexander
Graphic Design: Lauren Flook
Graphic Design: Lauren Flook

"Arts Award is great because you choose what to study. It's the opposite of school!"

"I love photography. Arts Award is a great opportunity to put my skills into practise and try something new."


"I spend lots of my free time illustrating. It's great that I can get my Arts Award doing something I love."


"Arts Award is broadening my horizons, helping me explore the arts in ways that aren't normally possible."


We ran a Silver Arts Award course for young people living in Hartcliffe and Withywood in 2019. The cohort included a young refugee. They chose to focus street photography and graphic design.

The young people worked with specialist photography tutor Shelby Alexander and art tutor Lulu Butcher, and exhibited work as part of the Southbank Bristol Arts Trail at the Tobacco Factory and the Southville Centre.

As part of their course they also planned, delivered and evaluated a range of creative workshops in printmaking and simple animation for younger children in Withywood.

This gallery shows some of the young people's artwork.

Read an article by Tobacco Factory about one of our Arts Award students.

Brave Bold Drama has been named as a Trinity Champion Centre 2021/22 for our successful delivery of Arts Award qualifications.

Trinity College London is a leading international exam board and independent education charity that specialises in the assessment of communicative and performance skills covering music, drama, combined arts and English language.

Trinity Champion Centres inspire other organisations by sharing their practice and advocating for accreditation in their communities and more widely.

Expanded Performance: Bristol + Bath Creative R&D
research project exploring technology and performance for young people, 2020

We were one of the six industry partners selected by Bristol + Bath Creative R&D to run a research project on the theme of Expanded Performance.

We spent our funded time between May-October 2020 exploring whether the use of technology in performing arts opportunities means young people from less privileged backgrounds are more likely to participate.

Along the way our research uncovered broader questions about how arts outreach projects are currently evaluated, who they are evaluated for, and how knowledge unconvered from evaluation is shared.

Read "Show Your Workings"

blog entry by Gill Simmons about our research

We hope to secure further funding to explore another area brought up by our research, which will explore how we might begin to model sustainable relationships between artists and secondary schools.

Thanks to an SME Covid-19 internship grant from Bristol University, an undergraduate intern Katie Chalk worked with us on this research project between June-August 2020. The university required a blog entry from Katie about her internship which you can read here.

Implementing our research 

To model one way that arts outreach project evaluation could begin to be more transparent and useful to other artists, organisations, schools and youth organisations, we have written brief evaluations on our youth arts projects below, and on our most recent community arts project The Butterfly Effect which are accessible to anyone via the download links on this page.

Furthermore, if anyone emails us with requests for information or advice about these or any of our other community projects, we promise to respond within 10 working days.

The Hive Totem Collective
A digital space showcasing young creativity

Hive Totem Collective
Hive Totem Collective: Solar System
Hive Totem Collective: wire necklace
Hive Totem Collective: wire dragonfly

The Hive Totem Collective was commissioned in 2020 by B&NES Hospital Education and Reintegration Services. It presents creative work made by young people whilst they are working with the Hospital Education and Reintegration Services.

The name of this collective emerged from a socially distanced puppet-making workshop we ran with some young people in July 2020. During this workshop the young people discussed possible names for this new showcase. The young people spoke about the base where they sometimes work with their tutors, called The Hive.

The word "totem" also came up during the discussion. In Anishinaabe cultures, the word 'doodem' (from where 'totem' derives) means "an expression of your heart" and also means the place where knowledge can be shared between clan members.

The Hive Totem Collective celebrates and showcases the 'expressions of the heart' or creativity of young people, and is also a space for young people to learn creative skills from each other.

We also curate bespoke creative workshops for young people working with B&NES Hospital Education and Reintegration services, often drawing upon the talents of our associate artists

"Nothing is Impossible"
A mural design project with Amy Hutchings, 2019


We secured Arts Council funding for artists who work in forms other than theatre or music to work in residence with us. One of these was mural artist Amy Hutchings

Over 80 young people from Merchants' Academy took part in the intial design process in June 2019.

The final design was painted by Amy Hutchings on a building  in Withywood and additional stencilling details were added by young people. 

The mural confidently states "Nothing is Impossible".

Read about the mural in this article by BS24/7.

Dance Theatre for International Women's Day
An Art Within the Cracks project by Anna Wilson in partnership with Vic Hole, 2019

We worked with 14-15 year old girls from Merchants' Academy in Withywood in 2019 to devise a dance-drama piece about their perspective of gender equality. Also on the creative team were choreographer Vic Hole and film-maker Anna Haydock Wilson.

The girls presented their work in Withywood for friends and family and also at City Hall as part of Bristol's International Women's Day in March 2019.

"Thankyou for all you have achieved with this group. It has been an incredible journey!"

PE Teacher, Merchants' Academy

See a recording of the performance in Withywood here.

Devised theatre training
With GCSE Drama students, Purbrook School, 2019

We took a trip to Portsmouth to lead a full day of devised theatre training for Year 10 GCSE drama students. We focused on ensemble work, creating non-linear narratives, character development and physical theatre.

"Gill’s energy and enthusiasm was infectious and her passion for Drama, specifically devising, was inspiring. She was wonderful with our pupils, adapting and tweaking her plan to ensure our pupils got the absolute most out of the day.

She had an excellent understanding of behaviour management, which meant that the day was incredibly productive and it was lovely to have someone who had an understanding of school and teaching.

The pupils loved the day, as us (as teachers) felt refreshed, motivated and excited to start our GCSE Devising Unit."

Head of Drama, Purbrook School

"Gill's passion, energy and clear enthusiasm for devising drama was a joy to be a round and I would highly recommended her to all schools. She was just simply amazing with the pupils and work differentiated to help the range of ability of pupils in the class.

A great day had by all. Gill is simply inspirational."

Drama Teacher, Purbrook School

Work experience and creative mentoring
for young people

Any young person aged 13+ living in Hartcliffe or Withywood who would like to express an interest in either work experience or creative mentoring with us, please get in touch.

We don't have funding to deliver this yet, but we do it anyway because it's important.