‘BP Portrait Award: Next Generation encourages young artists by opening up opportunities to meet and gain insights from past BP Portrait Award artists, make and share their own artwork and connect with other young people.’


Since 2010, BP Portrait Award: Next Generation has encouraged young people aged 14-19 to explore and engage with portraiture through the BP Portrait Award, the National Portrait Gallery’s annual summer competition of painted portraiture. Next Generation encourages new youth audiences to participate in portraiture through a series of events including  short Taster Sessions, three-day Summer Schools, drop-in events and, in 2013, the Gallery’s first-ever after-hours Young People’s Private View. The project is developed with young people to meet their needs and reflect their interests. Past BP Portrait Award-winning artists pass on insights and tips to the young participants.


Social media platforms encourage young people to share their portraiture work through an online gallery via Flickr and discuss it through a Twitter feed and online polls. A bank of video interviews with artists, participants and judges, and a podcast , developed with a ‘crew’ of young people, can be accessed on the project website. An onsite display during the BP Portrait Award showcases the project to a broad audience.


The project also has a regional component, where National Portrait Gallery collaborates with the regional venues including Aberdeen Art Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery and RAMM, Exeter to develop BP Portrait Award: Next Generation events for their youth audiences.


Though activities are curriculum-linked, and there are events for schools and teachers including portfolio critiques and Teacher CPD, participants do not have to be studying art to take part.  The project has developed new audiences, with up to 30% of participants new to the Gallery or portraiture, and has encouraged more youth entries to the BP Portrait Award (which is open to anyone aged 18 and above). The project now has been extended for another five years.



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