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About Circuit

Running from 2013-2017, Circuit was a national youth network for the visual arts, led by Tate and funded by £5m given as part of our 25th anniversary gift series.

The learning from Circuit, particularly about the importance of the relationships between cultural and third sector organisations, now informs PHF grant making particularly in Arts Access and Participation. We encourage applicants to consider the findings from Circuit (included in the report Test, Risk, Change) when putting together a proposal.

Circuit set out to create better access to the arts for 15-25 year olds, and brought together a national network of arts organisations to test new ways of working: Firstsite, Colchester; MOSTYN, Llandudno; Nottingham Contemporary; Tate Britain and Tate Modern, London; Tate Liverpool; Tate St Ives; The Whitworth, Manchester; and Wysing Arts Centre and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridgeshire.

Over four years, the programme reached more than 175,000 people through events and projects. It demonstrated that art can have a significant impact in building young people’s confidence, practical skills and their social and personal development.

Circuit gave young people the chance to influence arts organisations in a tangible way. It explored approaches to ‘peer-led’ working, giving young people the space and skills to bring their own cultures and voices into galleries, to share with the public. Through the programme, each gallery developed their own core group of young people who produced events, including a high profile festival at each site. The programme identified changes that need to happen in galleries to enable programmes to happen with, by and for young people.

Galleries focused on establishing sustainable partnerships with the youth sector, building links with over 50 organisations around the country. Circuit highlighted the importance of collaboration and equitable partnerships with the youth sector, to create opportunities for a more diverse range of young people to engage with art in galleries.

The programme report, Test, Risk, Change, brings together challenges and barriers, and ideas and solutions relating to three key themes that emerged from Circuit:

  • Galleries and the Youth Sector Building Partnerships
  • Motivation for Diversity and Change
  • Young People and Cultural Production

You are invited to use this report to provoke conversation, collaboration and action. It aims to encourage cultural and youth sector colleagues to reflect on Circuit findings to inform positive shifts within their organisations, and to identify practical and strategic methods for change.

This collection of essays, articles, quotes and comments, written by staff and young people brings together insights from Circuit. Research papers on Tate’s Learning Research Centre share learning from the programme.

Make Your Place: a portrait of changing futures

Following four young people who were involved in Circuit, this documentary explores some of the challenges they face in today’s society as they seek opportunities to shape their futures. The film illustrates how art galleries have the ability to support young people, and how this impacted their wider lives.

Download the report and watch the film.