Circuit, Cambridge: Joining heritage, arts and young people together

Circuit is the perfect example of heritage engaging young people. Find out more about this exceptional scheme from Engagement Officer Imogen Phillips.

Circuit, Cambridge: Joining heritage, arts and young people together

Could you introduce yourself to the reader?

Hello! I’m Imogen Phillips, the Learning and Engagement Assistant at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge. 

What is Circuit?

Circuit is a group of 18-25 year olds who work on creative events and projects with Kettle's Yard and Wysing Arts Centre. The group meets every week to work on fthe project they’ve chosen. Recognising different talents and areas, they then split the project between them and chose which artists and professionals they’d like to collaborate with. It may be an event, film or publication.

We welcome young people to join the program to develop their own projects and events. For example, they made a film interviewing artists in our reopening exhibition, with members taking different roles such as directors, photographers and producers. The group developed the whole project and the film was installed at the entrance to our gallery in Kettle’s Yard. They’ve been developing a plethora of exciting new projects. 

What impact has Circuit had on the on the young people and the community as a whole?

It certainly has plenty of impact. I think it's great for young people in Circuit to have the opportunity to produce work that galleries take seriously, as well as meeting different artists and art professionals. I think it's positive for the gallery because we get a variety of different voices that the visitors can engage with. This has enabled visitors to enjoy a much richer experience because they're hearing from lots of different people when they visit the gallery.

We've had people who were originally Circuit members and who are now on our staff team - I myself was a member of Circuit! We recently ran a training programme where Circuit members who had been working in a voluntary way were trained up to deliver their role more professionally. Three former members now run similar projects to Circuit at Wysing Arts Centre which is a really wonderful result. 

How did Circuit begin?

Circuit began as part of a national project that was funded by the Paul Hamlyn foundation and led by the Tate, with partnerships across the country with different galleries.

Why is it important for young people to get involved in heritage?

The heritage and the arts industry are important spaces where people, who are working on what matters to them, feel welcome and valued. Circuit is a vital space for the groupd to develop their own culture together. Listening to lots of different people is particularly important, and having the opportunity to really relish the variety of voices is something I love about the Circuit group. 


What does your day-to-day role look like, in Kettle’s Yard and when supporting Circuit?

My role at Kettle’s Yard is varied. I work with lots of different audiences, particularly children and young people. Some days I will be working with toddlers down in the studio, but the main part of my role is coordinating school sessions. We normally have three schools per week and I will support both the teachers and the students. From the beginning of planning the event, to the delivery and taking them round the gallery on the day, I work to produce workshops for schools. 

Similarly with Circuit, I work with the group to plan their sessions. At the beginning of the year I help Circuit to program and plan sessions, then further on I hand that over to Circuit when they’ve got an understanding of their projects, then I take a more secondary role and just support them and help them achieve what they want to do.

For more information about Circuit, visit their websiteor Twitter page.

Header Image Credit: Ryd Cook


Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Formerly Assistant Editor, Sienna now studies History of Art at the University of Cambridge and loves to write about the intersection of politics, history and visual art. Sienna is author of the Creative Education and Instaviews series.

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