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We are incredibly proud to announce that Ben Thomas, Assistant Curator for Learning & Participation at Arnolfini has been awarded The Marsh Award for Excellence in Gallery Education.

Ben has worked at Arnolfini since 2014 and his passion & commitment has a huge impact on the Learning Programme in the organisation. 

Ellie Coleman, Curator of Learning who nominated Ben for the award writes:

“Ben has gone beyond expectations in his role by pushing the boundaries of engagement through his desire to create unique programmes with and for young people responding to current issues and providing supportive environments to make their voices heard. 

He has created an ambitious model where practicing artists and writers work directly with schools, working with students to introduce art as a critical space for rethinking our identities and how we work together as a society. This is a departure from how art is traditionally perceived within formal education.  He has also instigated a successful and sustainable schools membership scheme providing opportunities for Arnolfini to connect with schools in a meaningful and long term way “

On his work with Young Arnolfini, Ellie says:

“Ben has worked extensively to place an emphasis on agency of the young people involved; moving away from individual practice towards an holistic model where young people work collaboratively, creating ambitious projects focussing on the role of art in shaping the world around us. This clear vision, creates a safe space to experiment and try out ideas connected to social change and has begun to influence the wider organisation. A reflection of these changes can be seen through the large scale exhibitions that the group has been offered, taking over the main gallery spaces (InHabit)”

Ben says “‘it’s a great honour to receive this award, I’m looking forward to continuing to work on creating a critical space for young people. This award wouldn’t be possible without Young Arnolfini and to be honest they probably deserve this more than me!”


About the award

The Marsh Christian Trust was founded in 1981, and makes approximately 300 donations per year to small registered charities. It has a growing awards scheme. The trust works in partnership with various organisations, such as engage, to identify the best candidates and deliver these awards. The Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education were launched in 2011 as a new annual award to recognise those working in Gallery Education who have shown dedication or innovation in their work.

“We’re delighted to be able to celebrate the achievements of colleagues in our sector. Gallery educators are essential to making sure the widest possible audience can get involved with art and artists. The volume and standard of nominations for these awards show just how dedicated people working with audiences in galleries across the UK are.”

Jane Sillis, Director of engage

Learn more about the awards here