6 Key Points from Arts Council England’s Youth Consultation
10th August 2017 - Adam Halls
As part of their 25 Year Creative Talent Plan, Arts Council England commissioned a youth consultation survey. Here are the main takeaways.
The survey was conducted in March of 2017 by Bite The Ballot, a youth empowerment organisation which encourages young people to take an active role in changing society, and Sound Connections, an organisation that gives a voice to young people, particularly in matters of music. Between them they surveyed over 800 children and young people on their opinions about arts and culture.
Arts Council England’s survey looked at wide range of ages (7 – 25) with a broad geographic reach and different existing levels of engagement with arts and culture. Overall, those surveyed gave a range of responses but several key points emerged from the surveys and attendant roundtable discussions.
- Children and young people place great importance on arts and culture and pulled out several positive outcomes for engaging with it. They recognised that it can be important for individual well being, for personal expression, and for learning about and engaging with other cultures. Almost all those surveyed were eager to engage with arts and culture yet, many identified barriers to entry.
- For many, class and money issues were raised in relation to arts and culture access. Certain activities were identified as being for people of a higher class bracket, particularly when they were presented as “the arts.” Lack of funds to access theatre tickets or musical instruments demonstrates a perception that only those activities that were out of reach really counted as arts and culture, as opposed to more accessible forms of art.
- The importance of parental support is vital, providing monetary, time and emotional support to pursue arts interests and being important to motivation too. Crucially, a lack of parental support can be another barrier to access.
- Young people often lack self-esteem and confidence to participate beyond the ‘safety’ of school boundaries, and leaving education can negatively impact young people’s engagement.
- A lack of awareness of what opportunities are available to children and young people was also very evident. Those surveyed stressed the importance of social media, in increasing awareness, opening up access and building confidence via the ability to share their work.
- Additional consultancy between ACE and children and young people was encouraged, particularly allowing participants to be involved in decision making processes e.g. where money is allocated. More consultation with children under 5 and children and young people with special education needs and disabilities was also encouraged.
These key points are a plea for arts and cultural organisations, schools, parents and carers to consider the barriers to access. The hope is that they will trigger exploration of possible ways to work around them, so that all young people and children, regardless of background, have access to high quality arts and cultural experiences.
In doing this, Local Cultural Education Partnerships (LCEPs) and Bridge organisations (such as We are IVE) can fulfil a crucial supporting role.
- Bridges and LCEPs are beginning to work on coordinating the signposting of opportunities and on increasing the visibility of more affordable arts and cultural opportunities for children and young people who have less access to the arts.
- Through Partnership Investment, We are IVE and other Bridge organisations match fund initiatives to that provide new arts engagement opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people.
- Schools who want to bring learning to life through arts and culture could consider registering for the Artsmark and training to deliver Arts Award for pupils. Both programmes provide additional resources and guidance to achieve these aims.
What can your organisation take away from these findings?