Artsmark and youth offending teams

Published on: 
7 Sep 2018

Engaging young people in arts projects can lead to greater participation in education and work-related activities and contribute to desistance.

The Cultural Learning Alliance’s recent evaluation* on the impact of cultural learning showed that young offenders who took part in arts activities were 18% less likely to re-offend. Through the arts, young people can improve cooperation, self-confidence and communication skills and can develop a greater sense of empathy through the self-reflective nature of creative activities.

The Artsmark Award is the creative quality standard for education settings accredited by Arts Council England. It provides a clear framework for settings to plan, develop and evaluate their arts and cultural provision.

The award supports youth offending teams (YOTs) to develop a more consistent arts and cultural offer for children and young people and the award’s framework can be used to respond to your own strategic priorities.

Why should youth offending teams apply?

As well as improving and developing your cultural offer, Artsmark recognises your commitment to cultural provision, welcomed by other agencies, potential funders and investors, and can support partnership working. A youth offending team can be awarded one of three levels; Silver, Gold or Platinum and the process is light on paperwork and flexible to each individual setting.

There is also lots of support on hand through a network of 10 regional Bridge organisations who are funded by the Arts Council to connect young people, schools and communities with arts and culture. Bridges are responsible for delivering Artsmark training, giving support throughout the whole Artsmark journey and linking YOTs to networks of schools, other education settings and cultural organisations.

Artsmark settings also gain access to a network of leading arts and cultural organisations through the Artsmark Partnership Programme. Artsmark Partners offer assurance that they understand the requirements of the Artsmark process and add value to a setting’s Artsmark journey, inspiring their young people and staff.

Southampton YOT’s Artsmark journey

Southampton Youth Offending Team are currently on their Artsmark journey. One of the goals they outlined in their Statement of Commitment (the first stage of the Artsmark application process), was to improve the alignment between young people’s Intervention Plans and the art programme to allow them to better evidence the measurable impacts of their arts and cultural provision. They plan to use their Artsmark journey to work with local schools to reduce first time entrants to the service and prevent anti-social behaviour escalating into criminal behaviour.

Funding is a continuing challenge to the sustainability of the arts activities on offer but they have been successful in securing Police and Crime Commissioners funding and will continue to pursue this support in coming years.

Jon Gardener, YOT manager for Southampton Youth Offending Team, says: “Where we value young people’s emotional intelligence as much as intellectual intelligence, Artsmark is an integral part of the process” continues Jon. “Young people take pride in their involvement with Artsmark, which fits perfectly with our desistance based approach to interventions.”

Art is a perfect means of introducing young people to positive activities in the community which they may not previously have attempted to access and use this activity to develop their personal skills sets and abilities.’

How can you get involved?

Registration is simple, just go to our Registration page. If you have any questions before registering, contact your regional Bridge organisation. A list of their contact details can be found here.


*To view Cultural Learning Alliance’s Imagine Nation research, visit


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Cultural education gives children and young people the opportunity to develop their creativity, both individually and collectively, and that's why our goal is for every child and young person to have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts.

Darren Henley
Chief Executive
Arts Council England

It's vital that children have the opportunity to learn and enjoy arts and culture from an early age. It develops their creativity, inspires future careers and enriches their childhood.

Artsmark Award does brilliant work in schools and education to ensure young people access a broad and balanced curriculum that includes high-quality arts and culture.

Michael Ellis MP
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism
Department of Culture, Media and Sport