Talking to young women at Grey Coat Hospital School about their involvement in the Tate Collective was a brilliant start to my three day visit. A striking aspect of the discussion was their articulation of the way their involvement in the project changed their engagement with art and galleries. One student vividly described her anxiety about going into a gallery and looking at art, feeling that she just was not confident that she could interpret the work. Through participation in the project the students felt that they could now trust that their own interpretation had value and that actually the art may have more than one meaning. This is a lesson they clearly felt also helped them more broadly in their academic studies. They felt they were more able to interpret ideas rather than thinking of subjects, like History, as being a set of facts set in stone. Another interesting impact was linked to the Tate Loud project which the students enthused about. They also believed this changed the way other young people felt about galleries, making the space vibrate with music. The links to contemporary exhibitions of work had also importantly impacted on their own arts practice. As artist teacher, Clare Burnett, commented:
The students are so lucky to be at school right in the middle of London, surrounded by international-quality art. We see open minded students who are prepared to take risks and are confident in expressing their contemporary viewpoints visually.
The school also supports students who have chosen to be Tate Ambassadors, creating displays and raising other students’ awareness of the galleries on the school’s doorstep. These students wear yellow tags as pictured below, created by the DT department. These signal that the ambassadors can share information and enthusiasm about current Tate exhibitions to their peers. This experience clearly pushes the ambassadors into thinking from the point of view of artists, curators and gallery staff in order to achieve their goals and therefore helps them understand the range of careers associated with galleries and wider creative industries.