Arts Council England launches Cultural Education Challenge

Arts Council England today urged all those working in the arts and education industries to work together in offering a consistent cultural education for all children and young people.

The Cultural Education Challenge was launched today at the Barbican in London. It challenges sector leaders across the arts, education, local authorities, schools, higher education institutions and others to create new ways of working. It encourages them to share resources to create joined-up arts and cultural provisions locally, at a time when public funding remains under pressure.

The Arts Council announced 50 new Cultural Education Partnerships across the country, in areas of most need of arts and cultural provision.  They will be modelled on previous pilot cultural education partnerships established in Great Yarmouth, Bristol and Barking & Dagenham. These were initiated by the Arts Council, with partners the British Film Institute, Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, in response to a number of recommendations made in the Henley Review on Cultural Education in England.

These Cultural Education Partnerships will be led and initiated by ‘Bridge organisations’. This network of ten organisations located across the country helps to connect schools, children and young people with arts and cultural activity. Bridges receive £10 million in funding every year from the Arts Council and will play a leading role in delivering the Challenge, although strong convenors are encouraged to come forward to help deliver the Challenge locally.

The Cultural Education Challenge brings a renewed focus on the importance of cultural education at a time when the creative sector continues to make a significant contribution to the economy, providing 1 in 20 jobs and when cultural education provision amongst children and young people varies across the country.

Through the Cultural Education Challenge the Arts Council wants to make sure that all children and young people everywhere have access to great arts and culture, and that every child can create, compose, and perform; visit, experience and participate in extraordinary work, and be able to know more, understand more, and review the experiences they’ve had.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said:

"A great arts and cultural education gives children and young people the confidence and creative skills to thrive, as individuals, as members of our society, and as the next generation of creative talent. All children and young people, wherever and whatever their start in life, should have the opportunity to have an arts and cultural education that nurtures innovation and unlocks the vital skills that are helping to drive our world leading creative industries.”

Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schools, added: 

"An introduction to the arts from an early age is vital to producing well-rounded and well-educated individuals, able to make a positive contribution to this country’s rich cultural heritage. That is why we have ensured the arts are a key part of a broad and balanced education for all young people, and this was reflected in this year’s GCSE results, which showed an increase of 3.4% since 2010 in entries to art and design GCSEs. The Cultural Education Challenge represents a great opportunity for local arts organisations, schools and colleges to come together to ensure all young people can enjoy an excellent cultural education, regardless of their background."

Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, said:

"I want to see all children have access to the arts regardless of where they live and go to school. Cultural education gives our young people the enriching experiences they need at an early age while also developing the talent and creative thinking that is powering the UK's world-beating creative industries. We need to do as much as we can to support cultural education through initiatives like this fantastic Challenge. I'm convinced better partnership working and a more strategic approach is key and I look forward to seeing the results of this vital new scheme."

Over the coming weeks a number of workshops will be hosted by Bridge organisations across the country. Local arts organisations, teachers, local authorities and more are invited to attend, to learn more about how they can get involved with the Cultural Education Challenge.

Find out how to get involved with the Challenge

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