HSHAZ x Fusion Partnership Case Study


  • 1086 young people directly involved in the HSHAZ programme, extending the reach of the HSHAZ to young people and families across Barnsley
  • 20 schools from across Barnsley Borough engaged with the HSHAZ programme
  • Improved sense of pride and ownership for young people in their high street
  • Young people with barriers to participation engaged with heritage and culture
  • Raised aspiration and awareness of creative careers in Barnsley, specifically in relation to the high street
  • Stronger links between local businesses and education providers, particularly on the high street and within the town centre
  • Eldon Street curriculum pack and enterprise toolkit available to schools



Fusion is Barnsley’s Local Cultural Education Partnership (LCEP) created with the aim of providing every child in Barnsley with opportunities to access high quality arts, heritage, cultural and creative education and experiences. The LCEP includes an extensive range of creative, education and strategic partners. Fusion is supported by Barnsley Museums and has worked closely with the HSHAZ for the programme’s duration, but particularly during the second half of the programme.


The ambition of the partnership between HSHAZ and Fusion has been to empower learners to find out about their heritage, to build a sense of place and ownership for young people in the town centre, to offer opportunities for young people to actively engage with heritage and culture in and around the high street, and to build aspiration for young people in Barnsley around enterprise and creative careers. This was to be done by strengthening connections between schools, cultural organisations, creative practitioners and local independent businesses in Barnsley, and making schools one of the key stakeholders for the programme. A secondary aim for Fusion was to pilot effective ways of working with secondary schools, which had previously been a challenge.

Key Activities:

Enterprise Challenges

A Circular Economy Enterprise Challenge was held at Horizon Community College in May 2023. Year 7 students responded to a challenge to help businesses on Eldon Street and the Victorian Arcade to be more sustainable and prevent waste by creating a new retail product using old stock. The students presented their ideas to a panel of 5 judges from the HSHAZ project team, local businesses and Enterprising Barnsley. 6 local businesses and 80 young people took part.

A second ‘Eldon Street digital enterprise’ day was held at the Digital Media Centre in Spring 2024 with Trinity Academy. The experience introduced students to digital careers connected to the High Street and involved challenges such as creating digital resources including blogs, interactive resources and webpages inspired by the stories and heritage of Eldon Street. 3 local businesses and 80 young people took part. 



Bright Nights

Over two years, Fusion worked with local schools to involve them in creative place-based activities as part of Barnsley Bright Nights (Barnsley’s annual winter light festival). This is dealt with in more detail in a separate case study, however it made a huge impact on young people and their involvement with Eldon Street. 160 Year 5, 6, 7 and 8 students from 3 schools worked with nationally renowned artists to design and create a huge Eldon Beast puppet, create and code digital costumes and create large-scale, illuminated puppets of key historic buildings on Eldon Street for the lantern parade though Eldon Street and the Glassworks Square. The project was particularly impactful on individual students facing barriers to engagement and engagement with wider families, evidenced through feedback from schools and parents. Students with SEND experienced improvements across the curriculum, in attendance, engagement and attainment as a direct result of their involvement. One school recorded that the project resulted in their greatest ever engagement with parents. 


Competitions were used as an inclusive way to engage multiple schools in heritage and culture. The model was first trialled as part of Poet Laureate Simon Armitage’s residency with the Eldon Street HSHAZ in 2022. Young people were invited to write poems about encounters with animals (real or mythical) on Eldon Street, inspired by stories and architecture from the street and a new Eldon Street poem by Simon. The competition was judged by Eloise Underman, Barnsley’s Poet Laureate, and bard of Barnsley Ian McMillan. 20 schools took part from across Barnsley. The winning entries were featured alongside Simon’s work in a new anthology which was launched at a special performance by Simon and his band LYR at the Parkway Cinema on Eldon Street.


The HSHAZ programme has provided a focal point and funding for Fusion and local schools to build their working relationship. The HSHAZ programme has also provided a rich testbed to trial a range of ways through which schools can be encouraged to engage more with local heritage and culture.

Throughout the HSHAZ, understanding and appreciation of the heritage of Eldon Street and Barnsley has grown for both schools and Fusion through interaction with the HSHAZ and, by extension, with Barnsley Museums and Archives. In 2022 Trinity Academy St Edward’s began to include Eldon Street as part of their core geography curriculum. Fusion is now also well on its way to delivering a history curriculum featuring Eldon Street for the wider use of Barnsley schools.

The relationships developed as part of the HSHAZ partnership have meant that Fusion is also now more closely engaged with other council teams in delivering events and activities, which will help to make the legacy and learning from the HSHAZ more sustainable.

Schools are also using the connections that they have developed via Fusion to develop their own relationships with Barnsley cultural institutions.

I got in contact with the gallery through the Fusion project…Hopefully, we're going to be continuing that collaboration in the future…we have been looking at trying to create a cultural passport…where you take all the big venues etc. You create a document which shows the kids where they [venues] are…they can go and they get a stamp. And if they can collect all the stamps, they've got that passport for that year, and then get put into a prize draw. (Chris Dyer, Head of Art, Trinity St Edwards’s)

Ultimately, the partnership between HSHAZ and Fusion has developed well beyond these two organisations to create an ecology of networks and shared activity that extends outside of the educational and cultural sectors to the local private sector through the HSHAZ programme. This is evidenced by the number of businesses keen to work with young people as part of the Enterprise workshops.

The ongoing legacy of the HSHAZ will be reflected through Fusion’s strategy focus on providing inclusive opportunities for place-based cultural and heritage-inspired learning that can impact on attainment, attendance and well-being for Barnsley’s young people.


One of the reasons for the overwhelming success of the schools programme was that the HSHAZ/Fusion partnership offered sustained and multi-strand opportunities to interpret Barnsley’s heritage through different artforms. It was also relevant and local, providing specific high-profile opportunities or ‘hooks’ for schools to engage with, linked to the curriculum. The staggering attendance levels at Bright Nights by record numbers of pupils and their families speaks volumes about the impact this approach had and the extent to which pupils felt real ownership of their work and an immense sense of pride and connection to their town centre and high street.

The stories and buildings of Eldon Street formed the basis of the engagement, with artists and local businesses brought in as partners to provide meaningful experiences for the young people, with tangible benefits for all involved. Working together meant that everything was properly joined up and resources were targeted, thought-through and well used.

The close partnership also meant that the needs of the schools and young people could be fed back into the wider HSHAZ engagement programme and in turn influence the resources that were produced. There was also enough flexibility in the programme and the funding to allow the activity plan to develop to capitalise on opportunities as they arose, and meet the needs of schools, learners and other stakeholders.