Child Participation Case Study

The voice of young people in a National Gallery of Ireland programme

How the National Gallery of Ireland involved young people in creating a brand for its Apollo Project

Background Information

The project on which we involved young people in decision-making

Apollo Project: young people’s programmes at the National Gallery of Ireland


The topic on which we were looking for their views

Developing a brand identity for the Apollo Project

The reason we wanted their views

The Apollo Project is an initiative designed to create a long-term, sustainable programme for young people at the National Gallery of Ireland. The project’s mission is to engage new audiences of young people with our collections and spaces by providing opportunities focusing on education, creativity and well-being. Our vision is to embed new strands by amplifying the role that young people play in them and in turn make them relevant and inclusive for everyone. The project aims to inspire and empower this age group by fostering confidence in their leadership skills, creative intelligence and ability to impact culture and art in Ireland.

It was essential that the Apollo Project had a distinctive brand, that was eye-catching and youth-focused. We wanted young people to be involved in the co-production of the brand identity, to reflect the ethos of the Apollo Project, which is designed to create programmes and activities created by young people, for young people.

 The decision-makers that facilitated and listened to their views

 The age profile of the young people

16 – 25 years


How we gave space, voice, audience and influence to young people’s views


How we ensured a safe and inclusive space to hear the views of young people

Things we considered What we did
The space or setting where we got their views (this may include online settings)
  • An initial focus group took place in the Millennium Wing Studio at the National Gallery of Ireland. This is a flexible, accessible workshop space.
  • A pizza lunch was provided for all participants.
  • Further meetings took place in the Boardroom, a private, formal space, and at the offices of DesignWorks, a creative space.
How you identified the children and young people to be involved
  • Young people were invited to take part via an open call on Instagram, via youth centre partnerships, and young people who had previously attended and participated in programmes at the Gallery.
How you involved those who were directly affected by the topic
  • Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child affords everyone the right to freely participate in cultural life and the arts.
  • The National Gallery of Ireland houses Ireland’s national art collection, which belongs to the people of Ireland.
  • It is therefore crucial that young people have a say in their national cultural institution. We, therefore, ensured that a representative cross-section of young people with an interest in the arts was involved in the project.
How early in the process they were involved in decision-making
  • The young people were involved very early in the decision-making process.
  • The Gallery’s Education Team appointed a designer who we had previously worked with, and who has a track record of inclusive collaboration.
  • DesignWorks organised the initial focus group to gather the views and ideas of young people in order to inform their initial designs.
  • Once the draft designs were ready, three young people joined the core decision-making team to choose the final design.
How the process was inclusive and accessible
  • Young people from a range of diverse backgrounds were invited to participate in the initial focus group. This involved a number of different ways for them to express their views, including full-group and small-group discussions and visual collages.
  • The Apollo Fellow was the main point of contact with the young people and gave them 1:1 guidance and support throughout the whole process to ensure that they felt safe and comfortable in meetings with senior staff.
  • The senior staff ensured that their voices were given equal weight in all discussions.


How we gave young people a voice in decisions

Things we considered What we did
How we informed young people about the topics on which we wanted their views
  • The Apollo Fellow and Designers gave presentations on the Apollo Project’s aims for creating an inclusive programme for young people, and how a brand identity is created.
How we made sure they knew their views would be taken seriously
  • Co-production with young people was embedded in the project.
How we informed them about level of influence they could have on decision-making
  • Young people were informed that their views and ideas would be used by the designers to shape the brand identity.
  • Three young people were later involved directly in the decision-making process and their views were given equal weight in all conversations and decisions.
The methods we used to get their views
  • Focus groups
  • Visual methodologies
  • Feedback with designers
How we made sure they could identify topics they wanted to discuss
  • In the initial focus group, we used open discussion and creative collage-making to get the young people’s views.
  • We then asked the young people to create collages in small groups that included words and images of their vision for the Apollo Project and then present their ideas to the full group. This activity gave the young people the freedom to identify topics and issues they wanted to discuss. A visual methodology connected with the creative nature of the project and allowed young people to express themselves in different ways.
  • Later, we invited three young people to join the decision-making team to feedback directly to the designers and sign off on the final designs.
Please describe the topics and issues they raised
  • We asked the young people key questions about their current perceptions of the Gallery. These included ‘old stuff’, ‘creeped out’, ‘disconnect’, ‘elitist’, and ‘not for me’. They wanted the Gallery to move towards being ‘comfortable’, ‘personal’, and ‘more understanding’.


How we made sure that there was an audience (decision-makers) for young people’s views

Things we considered What we did
How we developed a report or record of the young people’s view
  • Young people’s views were recorded via the visual collage formats.
  • These were collated by DesignWorks and used to influence their draft designs.
How we checked back with them that their views were accurately represented
  • DesignWorks then presented draft and final designs to a group of decision-makers, including three young people; Apollo Fellow; Education Officer with responsibility for Teachers, Schools and Youth; Head of Education; Communications, Marketing and Digital Engagement Manager; and the Director.
How we involved the decision-makers who are responsible for influencing change (other than yourself)
  • They were provided with decisions that were based on the young people’s design process.
At what point we involved decision makers other than yourself in the process
  • Decision-makers from the education department were involved from the very start, with senior decision-makers involved once the designers had created their draft designs.
How we and other decision-makers showed our commitment to listening to, and acting on young people’s views
  • We showed our commitment to listening to and acting on young people’s views by including them as equals in the decision-making process.
  • By having the young people at the table, the decision-makers could hear and consider their views directly, and at all times their ideas and opinions were given equal weight.
How we supported young people to play a role in communicating their own views to decision-makers
  • The Apollo Fellow worked with the young people on a one-on-one basis to ensure that they felt supported throughout the process to feel confident and comfortable in expressing their views in what might have been an intimidating environment.


How young people were given updates at key points in the development of the plan

Things we considered What we did
How we informed young people about the topics on which we wanted their views
  • The young people who attended the focus group were kept informed by the Apollo Fellow, and the final design was shared with them when the Apollo Project was publicly launched.
How their views were acted on by the appropriate decision-makers (what happened to their views)
  • After the initial focus group, three young people joined the decision-making team for developing the brand identity, and therefore their views had an immediate influence.
Whether we continually checked back with children and young people about the ways you used their views with decision-makers (if possible or appropriate)
How they were given full and age-appropriate feedback explaining how their views were used (or not) and the reasons for decisions taken
How we enabled them to evaluate the process throughout
What young people said in the evaluation


What changes were made because of young people giving their views?

The changes made as a result of young people giving their views are as follows:

  1. A brand identity for the Apollo Project was created that successfully embodied the ideas and views of young people.
  2. The design concept selected was created by a young person at DesignWorks, and is dynamic, vibrant and adaptable, effectively reaching new audiences via digital platforms including the Apollo Project’s dedicated Instagram account. This was established in October 2019 and has its own unique tone of voice separate from the Gallery’s main account.
  3. There is a huge difference in engagement with young people between when we did and did not have a social media platform and our own Apollo branding. Reaching young people in this way has positively impacted the project.

The learning for our organisation

The key learning for our organisation from the process and outcome of involving young people in this project

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