Creating 'one big masterpiece': synthesis in creative arts youth work

Edward Beggan, Annette Coburn

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The creative industries contribute £4.6bn to the Scottish economy and support 73 thousand jobs (Creative Scotland, 2017). Creativity sits at the heart of Curriculum for Excellence, where it is ‘fundamental to the definition of what it means to be a ‘successful learner’ in the Scottish education system’ (Education Scotland, 2013, p 2). Creative learning and cultural participation offer a means for people to improve their understanding of themselves and to achieve individual and collective well-being (Creative Scotland, 2014). Yet, in questioning whether our education systems do enough to enable learners to flourish, Putnam (2015) argues for improvements in the use of methods, like digital technology, to develop learning, creativity and innovation, where the streaming of short films, plays, animation and documentaries create ‘educational assets’ (p.122) for transformational education (Mezirow, 2009).
Understanding the importance of creativity in a context of shifting youth work methodologies (Harland and McCready, 2012) inspired us to consider a range of ways to improve young people’s experiences of, and access to, creative education outside of schooling. This article draws on findings from a multiple case study that examined use of creative arts in two youth work projects. It argues for educational synthesis in the application of professional youth work methodologies that can complement school based learning, to strengthen cohesion and collaboration in Scottish education. In this research, combining creative arts with youth work developed an authentic and participatory means for young people’s expression of voice (Beggan & Coburn, 2017).
Original languageEnglish
Article number968
Number of pages15
JournalConcept: the Journal of Contemporary Community Education Practice Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2018


  • creative arts
  • youth work
  • education


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