The Inclusive Practice in the Arts (IPA) team at MK Gallery is delighted to be awarded the Fantastic for Families 2021-2022 award – for the second year running.
Last year the team won the award for Best Family Arts Activity for its Sensory Boxes programme, which was developed in response to lockdowns as a remote creative offer for families. This year it won the award in the same category for its Toddle and Child Sensory Tour programme.
The Sensory Tours are designed for both toddlers, and children with additional and complex support needs, who may otherwise have difficulty accessing the content of the exhibitions. During the tours, children and families go on a journey through the exhibition spaces and are transported to another world through storytelling, music, curious object handling, intriguing smells and costume. The galleries are transformed into animated spaces, and artworks are explored and activated in a playful language that is accessible to all.
Running throughout the year, the Tours have bespoke content designed in response to the Gallery’s changing exhibitions programme. They are designed and led by Associate Artist Julia Collar (of Collar and Cuffs), who, independently, won the award for Audience Impact and Innovation for her Toddington Village Sensory trails.
Sophie Bennett, Producer, Public Programmes (Inclusion) MK Gallery, said: ‘We are thrilled to receive national recognition for our Inclusive Practice in the Arts programme once again. Sensory Tours offer families a unique experience – they break down barriers by inviting people into spaces that they may not ordinarily feel are for them.
‘Our Sensory Tours would not be possible without Julia Collar, and we are so proud that she won independently in her category as well. Special thanks also goes to our Learning Scouts, Sarah Hunt and Constance McCaffrey, who support families throughout the tours and enhance their experiences.
‘Recently we’ve been able to extend our tour programme to working with national charity VICTA, who support children who are blind or partially sighted, which has been particularly special.’
If you’ve not experienced a Sensory Tour with your children, then make sure you book onto our upcoming tours on Saturday 26 November for our current exhibition, Larry Achiampong: Wayfinder. Our Toddle Tour starts at 10.30am and our Child tour (SEND) starts at 11.30am.
Now in its ninth year, the Fantastic for Families Awards is an annual programme open to UK based cultural organisations or cultural activity organisers, providing creative opportunities, activities, or initiatives for families, young mothers, isolated elders, and those struggling with mental health conditions, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalised.
Anna Dever, Head of Family Arts Campaign said: ‘The Fantastic for Families Awards are a brilliant opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary creativity and innovation of the arts sector and the amazing work delivered for families during the past year. The organisations and artists nominated, and all those who applied, are wonderful examples of how creative and cultural engagement can bring joy and opportunities to families across the UK.’
The awards ceremony took place online on the 16 November 2022.