Opinion | Passion for the Arts Starts Early

Instilling a passion for arts and culture means ensuring schools are equipped to provide access to great art...

By Alex Winkcup

Fostering a healthy, vibrant, and burgeoning arts sector in England needs people who work tirelessly and passionately for something that they love. And a passion for the arts must be instilled early in life.

Many of us here at The Audience Agency have come from an arts background. We’re a team comprised of music makers, keen crafters, and arts advocates, working to promote and support the cultural sector. We are all advocates too, for the importance of the arts in wider society, and believe in the power of arts and culture to enrich and enlighten.

In light of a recent review of current access to arts and culture in school, the government has published an updated policy on cultural education. We absolutely agree about the importance of cultural education in schools, and that opportunities to participate in cultural activities should be available to all children and young people, regardless of background.

That’s why we were keen to be involved in a recent research project commissioned by Curious Minds, the bridge organisation for the North West. Curious Minds is funded by Arts Council England, and has a remit to connect young people with arts and culture.

We carried out a survey of school pupils, asking about the arts and culture that they engage with at home and in school. The results showed that many young people do have good access to a variety of arts and culture in school, but highlighted regional disparities in access and provision. Young people report that they are not able to take part in the activities that they would like to because they don’t know what is available or where to go.

Making use of the findings from our research, Curious Minds is launching a new website called Culture Hubs, a one-stop-shop for cultural education provision in the North West. This new resource will provide schools with information on local arts and culture providers and help them to find arts organisations that pupils can access to enrich curriculum learning. The website is currently being launched with a series of roadshows in September and October 2013.

There are roadshows taking place in Burnley, Merseyside and Manchester during October and November. If you would like to find out more, or to register a school or organisation, visit the Curious Minds website, or email glen.meskell@curiousminds.org.uk.

We hope that this new website will break down some of the barriers to accessing the arts that young people experience, and ensure that young people are able to access quality services to fuel their passions and fulfil their interests.