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Curious Minds State of the Region Report 2012

Curious Minds State of the Region Report 2012

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STATE OF THE REGION

Regional intelligence report on arts and cultural provision for children and young people in the North West 2012

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Contents
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Introduction Our Methodology Analysis of the Sub Regions Local Authorities Schools and the Education Sector Relationships Between Arts and Cultural Organisations and Schools The Creative and Cultural Sector Collaboration and Partnership Working Networks and Networking Information and Communication Engaging Young People Engaging Families Outreach and Engagement Achievement and Progression Arts Award Quality and Excellence Artsmark Funding Threats for the Bridge Advocacy 2 7 10 26 35 47 58 77 83 89 98 113 118 121 129 134 146 149 152 155

Contents

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Introduction

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Curious Minds is part of a national network of ten bridge organisations funded by Arts Council England to use our experience and expertise to connect children and young people, and schools and communities with art and culture. We, along with the Arts Council, believe that every child and young person should have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts and culture. Our approach to delivering the North West Bridge role will be underpinned by a set of five core principles: 1. Collaboration, dialogue and partnership – acting as a broker, enabler and facilitator to develop a sustainable cultural ecology for children and young people 2. Cohering and simplifying – streamlining and simplifying the mechanisms that facilitate children and young people’s participation in art, culture and creative learning 3. Recognising the unique contribution of schools – a coherent strategy that focuses on high quality arts experiences within schools 4. Continuously striving for quality and excellence – raising quality across the region to sustain engagement 5. Enabling children and young people’s voice – supporting children and young people to develop as independent and informed consumers, critics, consumers and commissioners of arts and culture.

Mapping and the gathering of information is a key element of the Bridge initiative. In order to build a coherent approach to the development of children and young people’s engagement in arts and culture, in and out of school, we need to be aware of the current offer, context and demand. This report aims to gather a regional picture of the provision, needs and barriers around arts and culture for children and young people. The report will be used to plan the Bridge programme we will deliver in 2012/13 and ensure that it is rooted in stakeholder need and reflective of the distinctive context, challenges and potential of the North West region at this moment in time. It will be used to underpin the partnership investment and subcontracting decisions we make and how we prioritise our time and budget as a Bridge organisation. Our purpose is to make a difference to as many children and young people as possible and our mission is to build on what works well and be unafraid to work in partnership to change the things that could be better. For the purposes of the Bridge remit, our definition of children and young people covers 0-19 year olds.

Introduction

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Strategic landscape Children and young people are living and learning in a period of great economic and social change, a time in which their emotional and physical wellbeing, the space afforded them to imagine, create and innovate and their ability to find work or access further or higher education are all playing out in a context full of challenge. For many in the North West, which includes the most deprived Super Output Areas in the whole of England, this will compound already high levels of disadvantage. This is a time of great flux for arts and cultural work with children and young people and it has been a challenge to develop a coherent overview of the constantly evolving context in which we are operating. This is a key transition time in which many funding streams have and are continuing to change. Rather than focus on what has been offered historically we set out to focus on provision planned for 2012/13. That said we now know some of the organisations we have consulted with as part of this research will cease to exist in a few months time. Others consider themselves to be ‘at risk’ while some are merging, restructuring or still working through the details of their offer for the new financial year. We are not operating in a static environment by any means and as such we offer you a perspective of the current context as we are able to interpret it at this time.

This report is not about making the case for arts and culture for children and young people; although there is much work to do in this area, for the purposes of this report we take the benefits of arts and culture for children and young people as a given. Instead, this report seeks to bring together information about current levels of provision for children and young people and analyse what children and young people and the key practitioners, deliverers and funders working with and for children and young people are telling us are the most important issues, challenges and opportunities facing them at this time. We have attempted to represent in as objective a manner as possible what people have told us. We have collected a vast amount of data and intelligence during this process. What we present here is essentially an executive summary of the information gathered over the last four months. The detailed summaries of individual organisational offers, the particular issues facing specific schools and the differing dynamics of local authority areas cannot be presented here, there is simply too much information. However we will continue making full use of this detailed data as we initiate partnership working and begin developing our programmes.

Introduction

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The process of meeting and connecting with such large numbers of people and organisations has been just as important to us as gathering the data, enabling us to forge new relationships, make fresh linkages and reconnect with many existing partners. We have made a deliberate decision to anonymise those consulted where possible. Our reason for doing this was to encourage open and honest conversation that would build a real picture of the region and to be sure that we were not seen to be favouring any one provider over any other. We found in fact that the majority of key themes, needs, barriers and potential presented to us were not specific to one art form area or geographical location. Instead a range of common themes emerged and so the report is arranged to reflect this. We start with specific intelligence about each region, move on to look at the specific context facing local authorities, the cultural sector, schools and children and young people, and then turn our focus to the most common themes that came up in our consultation.

Our role as a Bridge is to listen to what we have heard and work with partners to develop creative solutions that individuals, organisations and communities can implement. We offer a sense of realism in the picture we portray and a solutions focused approach in our response. Some of our ideas for responding to identified needs are featured here. Others will follow as we develop our programme. To date we have consulted with approximately 450 people and would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for sharing their time, expertise, experience and creative ideas. A full list of the individuals and organisations we have consulted with can be found in an appendix at the end of this document. This is only the beginning; we know there are many people we have yet to connect with across the region and we look forward to doing so as we move forwards.

Introduction

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Many thanks also to the individuals and organisations who have supported us in gathering intelligence across the region. Particular thanks go to: All About Audience Barnardos Action with Young Carers Blessed Trinity High School, Burnley Claire O’Brien Creative Futures Cumbria Emma Aylett CYCES - a school for young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties, run by The Together Trust Gayle Sutherland The Hollins Technology College, Hyndburn Janice McNamara Lyceum Youth Theatre

Mid Pennine Arts Naomi Whitman Neil Winterburn North Lakes School, Penrith Paul Hine Peshkar Young Peoples Group Rosie Crook St Patricks CE School, Endmoor Sheni Ravji-Smith Dr Stephanie Hawke Young People’s Advisory service (YPAS) Zion Young Performer

Introduction

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Our Methodology

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Representatives from Bridge organisations around the country came together to create an audit tool that would collect statistical data around arts and cultural provision for children and young people, including educational attainment, deprivation and other key indicators that would help us identify areas of particular need. Meanwhile in the North West we spent time devising a comprehensive process that would enable us to gather intelligence from as many young people, teachers, practitioners, funders and deliverers as possible.

We focused our attention on the following: – Children and young people – Schools – Arts Organisations - National Portfolio Organisations (NPO’s) – Arts Organisations - Non NPO’s – Museums/Heritage and Libraries sector – Third sector, community organisations and charities – Local Authorities – Arts, cultural and education networks

Our Methodology

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Feedback from these groups were gathered using the following methods: – Statistical evidence – Survey to all schools in the North West and a survey to all arts and cultural, museums and heritage organisations in the North West; this was part of a joint consultation delivered by All About Audiences and Curious Minds focusing on arts and cultural provision for schools. – Focus Groups – a series of group sessions with leaders from a range of sectors and backgrounds. These were targeted at the following: I. Artsmark trainers II. Arts Award advisers III. Arts Award trainers /moderators IV. NPO’s V. Museum and Heritage sector VI. Primary Schools in rural settings VII. Secondary Schools in rural settings VIII. Primary Schools in urban settings IX. Secondary Schools in urban settings X. Local authority arts officers XI. SEN schools XII. Third sector and community organisations The sub-regional focus groups contained representatives from all of the above settings.

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XIII. Sub-regional Lancashire XIV. Sub-regional Merseyside XV. Sub-regional Greater Manchester XVI. Sub-regional Cheshire and Warrington XVII. Sub-regional Cumbria One: One Interviews – we conducted interviews with over a hundred leaders from the arts and cultural sector, museums and heritage, libraries, music hubs and schools. Consultation with children and young people – one facilitator worked with two different groups of children and young people in each region. Their main focus of enquiry was what inspires children and young people to become engaged in arts and cultural activity. Network Analysis - we researched the key networks in the region that have a focus on arts and cultural work with and for children and young people. Cultural and Children and Young People’s Strategy Analysis – we conducted an analysis of local authority strategies around arts and culture and children and young people in the North West. This was to identify the key priorities for children and young people across the authorities and the plans local authorities have in place to support them. Research on current political and cultural policy

Our Methodology

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Bridge organisations agreed to focus on gathering intelligence around ‘Needs, Barriers and Potential’ within the following key areas: – The strategic issues for the region in the context of children and young people – Key threats and opportunities in the Bridge context – The specific dynamics of individual local authorities – Funding and commissioning agencies and potential partners – Geographic areas of ‘need’ for children and young people and ‘opportunity’ – Music education landscape

In bringing together the transcripts of interviews and focus groups we pulled out the main trends from conversations that sat within the above six areas. Some of these were sub region and sector specific while others cut across these boundaries and were relevant to the contributing sectors and region as a whole. The common themes were identified as: – Information and communication – Engaging young people, their families and the hard to reach – Achievement and progression – Quality – Money – Advocacy Arranging the report in this way has enabled to bring together the voice of young people, teachers, arts practitioners, funders and local authority leads as one. For each of the sector specific and key theme sections we share the key intelligence collated including needs, barriers and potential. We also share our current thinking around the key areas the Bridge will prioritise in year one.

Our Methodology

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Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Cheshire and Warrington
Cheshire and Warrington is situated in the south and east of the region and includes the following local authorities: – Cheshire West and Chester – Cheshire East – Halton Borough Council – Warrington Borough Council The sub-region has a mixture of city and large towns as well as a large rural community. Because of this geographical make-up there are areas of high prosperity and areas of high deprivation. There are five NPO’s in the sub region. This is an increase by one from the RFO (Regularly Funded Organisations) structure. However all NPO’s are based within Cheshire West and Chester and none within the other authorities although a cultural offer is provided through local authority, educational and commercial settings in the other authority areas. Apart from Cheshire Dance who conducts work across Cheshire East and West, the other NPO’s main focus is their immediate and neighbouring localities. Cheshire recently went through a unitary split and became two authorities (Cheshire West and Cheshire East). It has taken an understandable amount of time to restructure. Halton and Warrington, from our consultations, appear to suffer from a lack of strong connection and identity with children and young people, with their focus being influenced by the nearby Liverpool City Region and Manchester City centre cultural offer. What the statistics tell us, is what came up during the consultation process:

There is the perception that Cheshire is affluent so does not need funding
In the sub region as a whole the levels of deprivation are low. However it is only when we focus down at a more local level that we start to find particular needs and barriers within pockets of deprivation. Areas such as Ellesmere Port have some of the highest levels of deprivation and lowest standards of educational attainment in the UK. This could easily be missed if on the ground intelligence and statistics are not gathered.

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Statistics for Cheshire 1. Population – (0 - 19) 206.7 (000’s) (20 - 24) 51.1 (000’s) 2. Population CYP (0-24) – 257.8 (28.9% of total population) 3. Arts Award – 127 successful awards April 2011 – September 2011 Total Arts Award 0.08% of young people (North West average = 0.18% / National average for England = 0.17%) 4. Arts Mark – 87 settings = 20.2% of settings (North West average 20.6% / National average for England = 19.2%) 5. Percentage of CYP (under 16’s) living in poverty – 13.5% (North West Average = 22.8%, National Average = 20.9%) 6. Unemployed Under 25 – 15,750 = 26.2% of total claimants (North West Average – 29.4%, National Average – 26.9%) 7. Index of Multiple Depravation – 16.22 (24 out of 39 in England) North West Average = 25.61 National Average = 19.15 8. Areas of low engagement In arts and culture (National ranking out of 354) – 49th – Halton 9. Setting listed in top 50 highest NEETS levels – 6th Ellesmere Port High: Around 20% 3rd Warrington Very High: Almost 25% Particular geographical areas of need mentioned in consultations – Ellesmere Port Halton Warrington Tarporley Nantwich Crewe Wilmslow Congleton Macclesfield

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Cumbria
The Cumbrian sub-region is made up of one local authority and six district/city councils: – Cumbria County Council – Allerdale Borough Council – Copeland Borough Council – Barrow in Furness Borough Council – Carlisle City Council – Eden District Council – South Lakeland District Council The sub-region is well known for the home of the Lake District and a rural way of life. However this can hide the fact that Cumbria is a very complex geographical area fraught with barriers. Two main barriers exist In the area; economic deprivation in the west and south of the region in areas such as Barrow in Furness and Workington and rural isolation In the rest of the county. Particular concerns were raised in consultations around transport, lack of accessibility to arts provision and how arts and cultural provision could be taken to cut off areas. There are 14 NPO’s in the region. This is an increase of two from the RFO structure. NPO’s and the museum and heritage sector play a key role in the life and education of the people of Cumbria. Although there is a lot more provision available in the region compared to the national average around the country (outside of London) the size of the provision is small and usually focused upon the near locality. When asked during the consultation what they would like to see happen in the Cumbrian region, most people asked for a more joined up offer across the region and strategic help with transport policy and routes. Cumbria County Council highlighted that the provision for 11-19 year olds is thin on the ground and have inserted this into their children and young people’s policy document as a pressing need to address.

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Statistics for Cumbria 1. Population – (0 - 19) 108.5 (000’s) (20 - 24) 25.3 (000’s) 2. Population CYP (0-24) – 133.8 (27.4% of total population) 3. Arts Award – 283 successful awards April 2011 - September 2011 Total Arts Award 0.35% of young people (North West average = 0.18% / National average for England = 0.17%) 4. Arts Mark – 54 settings = 15.7% of settings (North West average 20.6% / National average for England = 19.2%) 5. Percentage of CYP (under 16’s) living in poverty – 15.1% (North West Average = 22.8%, National Average = 20.9%) 6. Unemployed Under 25 – 7360 = 29.6% of total claimants (North West Average – 29.4%, National Average – 26.9%) 7. Index of Multiple Depravation – 21.06 (10 out of 39 in England) North West Average = 25.61 National Average = 19.15 8. Settings classed as cold spots (National ranking out of 354) – 65th – Allerdale 73rd – Barrow 9. Setting listed in top 50 highest NEETS levels – None Particular geographical areas of need mentioned in consultations – West Cumbria Barrow Workington Areas of rural isolation Eden South Lakes Carlisle Copland

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Greater Manchester
The Greater Manchester sub-region is made up of 10 local authorities: – Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council – Bury Metropolitan Borough Council – Manchester City Council – Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council – Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council – Salford City Council – Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council – Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council – Trafford Metropolitan Borough – Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council Greater Manchester is a city region made up of authorities with many similar needs and barriers. Through the local authority union of AGMA (Association of Greater Manchester Authorities) the sub-region has built a joined up approach to arts and culture in the area, ensuring provision and funding is spread across the whole region with key organisations focusing on specific needs and barriers. This means that the work Curious Minds carries out in this sub region will build on way of working and infrastructure that is already successful. However, this way of working does have its challenges. Our consultations suggest that this way of working can miss important areas of focus. The size of the conurbation and where and when the cultural offer takes place does cause many Issues for children and young people in accessing arts and cultural provision. Naturally the Manchester city region holds the hub of the cultural offer, an offer that is accessed by residents and young people from outside the Greater Manchester region, as well as within. The barriers that affect young people across Greater Manchester include street by street gang separation, lack of identity within the local area, transport difficulties getting from one side of the sub-region to the other, deprivation and youth unemployment in the main surrounding towns such as Rochdale, and the threat of a city centre with a cultural offer much richer than a young person’s own neighbourhood.

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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With the move of the BBC to Media City in Salford there is a sense of a new lease of life and opportunity for a number of organisations. But this is also seen as a threat with a concern that funding and audiences will head in the direction of Salford Quays instead of the outlying areas which statistics show have the highest deprivation and disengagement. This said, Salford itself is seen as an area of high deprivation too. As with many areas the main challenge to arts and cultural organisation is reduced funding, the expectation to do more with less and the capacity to achieve this. Within consultations the request for extra funding came through loud and clear but there is a very positive attitude to trying new and sustainable ways of working to achieve this. Funding is not always the answer; shared working and programming aligned with the principles of openness and honesty was suggested as the key way forward.

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Statistics for Greater Manchester 1. Population – (0 - 19) 650.2 (000’s) (20 - 24) 211.4 (000’s) 2. Population CYP (0-24) – 861.6 (30.6% of total population) 3. Arts Award – 526 successful awards April 2011 - September 2011 Total Arts Award 0.18% of young people (North West average = 0.18% / National average for England = 0.17%) 4. Arts Mark – 229 settings = 18.3% of settings (North West average 20.6% / National average for England = 19.2%) 5. Percentage of CYP (under 16’s) living in poverty – 25.6% (North West Average = 22.8%, National Average = 20.9%) 6. Unemployed Under 25 – 73090 = 30.7% of total claimants (North West Average - 29.4%, National Average – 26.9%) 7. Index of Multiple Deprivation – 28.44 (4 out of 39 in England) North West Average = 25.61, National Average = 19.15 8. Settings classed as cold spots (National ranking out of 354) – 20th – Wigan 30th – Salford 37th – Rochdale 53rd – Bolton 61st – Tameside 63rd – Oldham 9. Setting listed in top 50 highest NEETS levels – Rochdale & Oldham – Very High: Around 20% Bolton – High: Around 18% Manchester – Medium: Around 15-17% Particular geographical areas of need mentioned in consultations – Rochdale Wigan M62 corridor Tameside North Manchester East Manchester

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Lancashire
The Lancashire sub-region is made up of 3 local authorities and 12 borough councils: – Lancashire County Council – Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council – Blackpool Council – Burnley Borough Council – Chorley Borough Council – Fylde Borough Council – Hyndburn Borough Council – Lancaster City Council – Pendle Borough Council – Preston City Council – Ribble Valley Borough Council – Rossendale Borough Council – South Ribble Borough Council – West Lancashire Borough Council – Wyre Borough Council Lancashire is a sub-region with three main areas of focus; the Blackpool region, Pennine Lancashire and central Lancashire Central. All three areas have their own characteristics and artistic communities. Economically there are major areas of deprivation around the region, some urban and some rural. When compiling statistics in Lancashire it is sometimes difficult to see where the most deprived areas are. For example, West Lancashire can be seen as an affluent area but if one looks more closely we see that towns such as Skelmersdale and villages such as Tarleton suffer from significant levels of depravation and minimal opportunities for engagement in the arts. This has resulted in some areas being overlooked for funding or investment over the years. This is a similar issue right across the sub-region of Lancashire. Over recent years Lancashire County Council has worked with local partners to bring together a strong cultural tourism approach to the region as a whole. This will hopefully bring in investment and tourism to much needed areas. There is a central regional pull towards making Preston the centre of the sub-region; however some sub-regional partners fear that their area or town may lose investment and suffer from similar provision issues facing the Greater Manchester and Merseyside regions who suffer from the pull of the city centres of Manchester and Liverpool.

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Lancashire as a whole has suffered from the National Portfolio Organisation restructure, leaving an area without any NPO’s across the whole centre of the sub-region, including Preston. Added to that is the end of the Creative Partnerships programme which brought a huge investment to freelance artists and arts organisations across the subregion, resulting in a feeling of neglect around arts and culture from major funders and government. A number of organisations with previous strong presence in Lancashire are struggling or being disbanded. During our consultations we asked what the main needs and barriers for this sub-region are. Key messages included; High deprivation causing economic restrictions to accessing activity; some areas feeling they are a “poor relation of the county” and overlooked; the loss of arts and cultural provision for children and young people at county and borough level through restructure; a lack of activities and venues available; bad access to transport routes around the county; and rural localities having geographical challenges in accessing activity despite not being deprived areas themselves.

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Statistics for Lancashire 1. Population – (0 - 19) 353.8 (000’s) (20 - 24) 97.2 (000’s) 2. Population CYP (0-24) – 1425.3 451 (31.6 % of total population) 3. Arts Award – 204 successful awards April 2011 – September 2011 Total Arts Award 0.11% of young people (North West average = 0.18% / National average for England = 0.17%) 4. Arts Mark – 196 settings = 14.5% of settings (North West average 20.6% / National average for England = 19.2%) 5. Percentage of CYP (under 16’s) living in poverty – 20.6% (North West Average = 22.8%, National Average = 20.9%) 6. Unemployed Under 25 – 28150 = 29.2% of total claimants (North West Average – 29.4%, National Average – 26.9%) 7. Index of Multiple Depravation – 24.42 (9 out of 39 in England) North West Average = 25.61 National Average = 19.15 8. Settings classed as cold spots (National ranking out of 354) – 15 – Blackburn with Darwen 16 – Preston 18 – Burnley 26 – Hyndburn 50 – Blackpool 59 – Pendle 123 – Rossendale 9. Setting listed in top 50 highest NEETS levels – Blackpool – Very High: Around 20% Particular geographical areas of need mentioned in consultations – Rossendale Skelmersdale Burnley Hyndburn Rawtenstall Blackpool

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Merseyside
The Merseyside sub-region is made up of 5 local authorities: – Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council – Liverpool City Council – Sefton Council – St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council – Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council Merseyside is a sub-region hugely influenced by the central magnet of Liverpool City Centre and the rich cultural provision provided there. But it is also a complex region with high levels of deprivation and disengagement in arts and cultural activities, for different reasons from one area to the other. It has many similarities to the Greater Manchester sub-region but has its own individuality and over the years has been and sees itself as a competitor to its nearby neighbour of Great Manchester. The City of Liverpool was awarded the European Capital of Culture 2008 during the mid 2000’s and this began a re-growth of the arts and cultural services in the city and further afield. The city centre already had great historical arts and cultural organisations such as National Museums Liverpool, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Everyman and Playhouse theatres and the Bluecoat, but had been joined in recent years by the TATE Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial and FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). The capital of culture profile enabled the ‘Big Seven’, with Unity Theatre, to join together as one voice in the LARC (Liverpool Arts and Regeneration Consortium) structure. This enabled more focused cultural programming and cultural tourism across the city and sub-region. Sharing services and expertise through schemes such as Thrive, the city’s main arts and cultural organisations were able to reach out and develop disengagement programmes with communities in the city and beyond. Specifically, the Find Your Talent programme started to build a joint movement to bring a rich arts and cultural offer to children and young people across the sub-region, until the programme was cut short by the new political administration.

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Although the Find Your Talent and Thrive programmes did some fantastic work in the Liverpool city region they did not always reach all of the sub-region in their work (that was not necessarily their remit). Outlying areas such as Southport, Sefton, South Liverpool and the Wirral have continued to see little investment in arts and culture and the provision has survived in these areas by the hard work and determination of individual artists, a few arts organisations and the local authorities. Liverpool Riverside, for example, was mentioned in the original Capital of Culture bid by Liverpool City Council as an urgent area of investment but because the main focus of Thrive and Find Your Talent was North Liverpool (another area of high deprivation) the Riverside region still sits on top of the tables for deprivation and poverty. This is a similar scene across the sub-region. That isn’t to say those areas who have had significant investment over the last 6 years are now vibrant and rolling in a rich arts and cultural offer. Those areas still have some of the highest levels of deprivation economically in England. What they do have though Is a generation of children and young people who were given a chance to lead and develop the arts and culture provision around them. A large number of those young people now feel a connection with arts and culture and it is part of their weekly lives.

The local authority structure across Merseyside Is particularly strong, with relationships built up through networks. This has resulted in all authorities placing children and young people at the centre of many of their plans. During our consultations, people working in the sector came up with many needs and barriers in relation to the arts and culture offer. Amongst these were the threat of the city centre of Liverpool and the focus of funding and provision being offered here while the outlying areas are forgotten about. There is a need for a more local town by town approach.

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Statistics for Merseyside 1. Population – (0 - 19) 348.3 (000’s) (20 - 24) 115.6 (000’s) 2. Population CYP (0-24) – 463.9 (32% of total population) 3. Arts Award – 484 successful awards April 2011 – September 2011 Total Arts Award 0.24% of young people (North West average = 0.18% / National average for England = 0.17%) 4. Arts Mark – 191 settings = 29.3% of settings (North West average 20.6% / National average for England = 19.2%) 5. Percentage of CYP (under 16’s) living in poverty – 27.6% (North West Average = 22.8% National Average = 20.9%) 6. Unemployed Under 25 – 48760 = 28.6% of total claimants (North West Average – 29.4%, National Average – 26.9%) 7. Index of Multiple Depravation – 32.74 (1 out of 39 in England) North West Average = 25.61 National Average = 19.15 8. Settings classed as cold spots (National ranking out of 354) – 8 – St Helens 43 – Knowsley 9. Setting listed in top 50 highest NEETS levels – Wirral – Very High: Around 20% Liverpool – High: Around 18% Particular geographical areas of need mentioned in consultations – Sefton – Formby / Southport (feels cut off and not connected) Liverpool Riverside Kirkby St Helens Wirral

Analysis of the Sub Regions

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Local Authorities

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Our consultation has involved conversations with county, city, borough and district councils as well as unitary authorities. Culture is viewed very differently across the local authorities in the North West with radically different prioritisations of arts and culture – there appears to be under supply in some areas and possibly even over supply in others. Strategic landscape There is considerable variance at present in terms of security of position for local authority arts officers and ability to long-term plan. While one county council’s arts service has been protected for the next three years, another arts officer in a neighbouring authority has no sense of her position or when it will become clear. In the light of uncertainty, many are finding it hard to develop or implement meaningful long-term strategies around arts and culture; equally, ‘having a strategy is no guarantee of continuance.’ There is currently much stasis within local authorities while restructure and review continues at a varied pace.

A number of local authority representatives described how often ‘arts and cultural provision’ was moved around within directorates. In one authority, Cultural Services has sat within four different departments in the last eight years and currently resides in Technical Services. This flags up issues around wider council support for the arts and culture and highlights a lack of understanding around how cultural services can deliver corporate objectives across the board. It has become clear that cultural teams don’t always work or communicate effectively with Children’s Services. Many departments were very inward facing and could not offer any insight into their colleagues priorities within other teams. There is a perception in some authorities that funding for social services drains wider resources.

Local Authorities

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Impact of the cuts Local Authority cuts are impacting on services to children and young people by taking away significant numbers of staff and often whole areas of service such as Arts Development, the Youth Service or Children’s Library Services. This is having a huge impact with remaining officers often covering two or three roles. Those who remain are straining to fill the gaps and this is having a big impact on capacity. In some cases however, combining posts is stretching and maximising staff skills; for example, in some areas Arts Development and Museum Learning Officers are combining their duties with other sections such as Events, Tourism, and Libraries. This is enabling a whole new range of ideas, relationships and possible partnerships to emerge as librarians work in museums and museum officers take on arts development roles.

Spending cuts mean that points of access, referral and signposting for young people are being eroded. Building closures, the loss of national agencies for youth dance and theatre, the loss of local authority link workers and specialist officers were all given as pertinent examples. Some services have become consolidated (merging with Children’s Services or cultural services), some are being outsourced, some are developing a trading arm which may involve arts education and consultative services for arts subjects. Local Authority priorities have shifted widely across the region and the economic pressures are causing two contrasting things to happen. In the light of cuts, some arts services are becoming more targeted, aligning their work with wider council priorities and meaning the wider population of young people may miss out. Others are becoming more universal and mainstream in their provision, offering something to as many people as possible in a bid to represent value for money.

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Connecting with schools Many authorities are struggling with narrowing the gap and turning round schools in special measures, in many cases the School Improvement team have been retained solely to deliver statutory functions with and on behalf of schools. The Head of School Improvement in one local authority told us that a more targeted approach to cultural and arts education in schools was not a strategy they could see as relevant to supporting these key priorities. Local authorities freely recognise schools are not looking to them for support any more and acknowledge they could not offer that support now either. Some local authorities see a key role for the bridge organisation in bridging that void. Some are keen for us to develop ‘arts clusters’ of schools to share practice and others now see us as the mechanism to get their offer out to schools. One borough council, for example, has asked if we can promote their dance and animation summer school programme for them this year.

Collaboration across local authorities While some authorities currently appear very inward facing, others are keen to connect outwards and are requesting support with making connections across sub regional areas. Some see the benefit in mounting a joint effort to create an evidence case for the work that will help map and contextualise local gaps and develop stronger sub-regional connections. In fact there is increasing collaboration between local authorities – for example, nine of the ten AGMA districts came together recently to prepare a ‘megahub’ Music Education Plan bid. CHAOS (Cheshire and Warrington), Learn Together Partnership (Merseyside, Halton, Cheshire and Warrington) and Greater Manchester Local Authority Arts Officers are all examples of thriving networks. This is beginning to go beyond sharing practice to joint delivery.

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Commissioning When the dust settles many local authorities will look towards the commissioning of external partners as a model for meeting their aims. The growing body of evidence demonstrating that arts, cultural and creative approaches can have a powerful impact in areas such as health, education, community empowerment and crime reduction suggests there should be key opportunities for the best creative and cultural providers to offer support. In many ways the market is more open than ever before and there are significant opportunities for arts and cultural organisations to offer competitive provision that would previously have been delivered by the local authority. Local authority commissioning approaches were felt by many to be too inaccessible and paper-based and it was felt that more dialogue and relationship building should become part of the process. One strategic commissioner said she would always prefer to hear what children and young people who have previously worked with a particular provider had to say before making a decision.

Cultural tourism Some local authorities are working hard to promote cultural tourism in an attempt to bring more visitors in to the area. This has seen some interesting programmes of collaboration between heritage venues, for example, but it also raises a challenging debate around the role of publicly funded and commercial activity and how these mixed economies can work together to attract external visitors to an area. Cultural buildings Some authorities are working hard to make their cultural buildings accessible and popular, some are disposing of them or closing them. In one authority the arts officer explained how closing venues was having a knock-on effect on family engagement as parents like to see end-of-project performances in a professional venue.

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Key Bridge priorities for year one – Work closely with local authority commissioners who wish to develop their understanding of the contribution arts and culture can make to the Children and Young People’s plan and broader social agendas. – Facilitate conversations between commissioners and creative and cultural providers, supporting providers to communicate in commissioner friendly language; e.g. X young people experienced Y and the benefits are Z. – Radically increase the profile of local authorities within the North West who are championing arts and cultural provision for children and young people; this can be used as a prompt and tool to reengage other authorities. – Attend local authority Arts Officer network meetings and offer a regional perspective and opportunities to join up programmes and approaches.

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Local authorities’ Children and Young People’s Plans The most common priorities for the Children and Young People’s Plans (CYPPs) for the five sub-regions are to; – Promote healthy lifestyles and healthy choices and reduce behaviours and identify those at risk of harm at an early stage; – Improve access to and influence over services and opportunities for vulnerable groups; – Promote enjoyment, positive play, recreation and leisure activities for all children and young people; – Provide opportunities for children and young people to engage and be valued as responsible members of their communities; – Raise the aspirations of all children and young people in all aspects of their lives; – Support children, young people and their families to achieve economic well-being and reduce the numbers living in poverty; – To improve the emotional well-being and resilience of children and young people; – Safety and safeguarding.

There is very little explicit discussion of arts or culture in most of the CYPPs, with the focus tending to be more on ‘positive’ and ‘leisure’ activities. The type of priorities raised include: Increasing the take up of leisure, sports and cultural activities by all children inside and outside the school curriculum; improving development opportunities, advice and guidance and positive leisure activities; improving attainment of pupils at early years; and family commitment to learning.

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Local authorities strategies for arts and culture Children and young people are mentioned throughout local authorities strategies for arts and culture including priorities relating to schools and schooling: – enhancing opportunities to challenge and support schools and the wider community in developing the curriculum or projects; – working with partners to provide support and training to ensure a creative curriculum in schools; – engaging in the development of the 14 – 19 curriculum including vocational opportunities related to the cultural field; – supporting primary schools by placing professional creative practitioners into schools and other learning environments; – incorporating culture and sport within the Building Schools for the Future programme; – increasing access to creative learning for children and young people in and outside of schools and ensuring that creativity is a core priority in lifelong learning.

Other related agendas include: – developing culture’s contribution to the children and young people’s agenda; – promoting life-long learning opportunities in a range of venues; – sharing best practice in arts education; – developing education and training opportunities relevant to the needs of business, individuals and the community; – providing a range of formal and informal learning opportunities in a range of settings; – developing youth led practice empowering young people to identify areas they are interested in, in order to support social regeneration; – making the enjoyment of and participation in culture and creativity accessible, affordable, important and enriching for all people, especially the young; – improving the self-esteem and health of children and young people.

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Other relevant themes within the local authorities arts and cultural strategies include: – Arts, culture, the built environment and sense of place; – Economic contribution, regeneration and development; – Increased participation and access; – For the arts and culture to be an integral part of supporting health and well-being; – Engaging with art and artists; – Funding, development and policy making; – Providing opportunities for young and old to work alongside professional artists and creators; – Addressing issues of social inclusion through concession schemes; – Developing opportunities for high quality arts activities to take place in rural and outlying locations; – Increasing access to information about funding opportunities for the arts; – Working with organisations to secure sources of funding and to encourage the development of bids.

Youth work There are real challenges here with the huge loss of open access services, the impact of delivering targeted only services, and the shift of these services to school settings for young people already disengaged with the formal education environment. There also seems to be a lack of connectivity between Youth Services and other agencies. Youth workers are a major asset to enabling young people to access arts and cultural provision, they have local knowledge and contacts in the most deprived areas and existing relationships with hard to reach young people. They already run arts based activities amongst many other types of activity and are often responsible for young people’s first experiences in cultural participation. However there are often issues with the quality of this provision, which warrants further exploration. It is acknowledged it can be hard to find the right people to speak to in many youth sector agencies to initiate partnership.

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Schools and the Education Sector

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It is widely acknowledged that schools are uniquely placed to ensure that children and young people have the opportunity to access the very best in arts and culture. For the vast majority of children, schools form the most significant part of their education and for those from the most deprived backgrounds, school is particularly important in offering experiences children may never otherwise have access to.

Schools offering excellent arts and cultural provision combine structured curriculum lessons in which children and young people participate in a diverse range of arts and cultural activities as a stimulus for learning, alongside programmes of after school activity for children with passions for particular art forms. Many schools, particularly high performing schools, bring in creative practitioners to work alongside classroom teachers. These creative practitioners may be freelance specialists or employees of arts and cultural organisations or private sector companies from the creative and cultural industries. Our vision is to support more schools to embed arts and culture across the curriculum and beyond so that pupils experience a rich diet of cultural experiences every day and come to expect no less.

Schools and the Education Sector

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Strategic context Schools now have more autonomy and choice about how they spend budgets and it is possible that some schools will use this opportunity along with the newly ‘slimmed down curriculum’ to support arts and culture more freely. There are many excellent examples of schools using cultural learning to demonstrate to parents that they offer not only a high standard of education but also dynamic new experiences that make their children better communicators, better learners, more confident and ultimately more employable. The 2010 Schools White Paper ‘The Importance of Teaching’ states that children should expect to be given a rich menu of cultural experiences. However, there are real concerns within the region that the English Baccalaureate actually incentivises schools to deprioritise the arts and cultural learning because the majority of schools will choose to spend much of their money in areas they know they will be judged on the most. There is a significant and growing unease that subjects such as Art and Music will become less valued in schools. The full impact of this remains to be seen.

Many of the schools most committed to arts education have demonstrated this through achieving Artsmark Gold or through becoming Creative Partnerships schools or achieving specialist arts status. It is these head teachers who are saying that their ideology and the realities they now face are in direct conflict. They are still passionate about the intrinsic benefits of arts and culture but say that as it’s not statutory or measured, a myriad of other pressures are taking priority. Money Historically, local authorities would often commission arts and cultural organisations to work with clusters of schools and this enabled coherent interventions to take place on a large scale. Delegated budgets now mean schools can judge the market more independently and make their own commissioning decisions. In many ways this will be a positive step for schools but it does mean they are less able to benefit from the economies of scale and security that came with block bookings and being part of a local authority co-ordinated programme. Schools themselves are concerned about funding and say that without the budgets they used to have or ‘easy access’ to Creative Partnerships style initiatives, value for money and cost effectiveness are increasingly becoming the most important factors in selecting external provision.

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The role of parents and culture in schools For many children and young people, parents are the most influential adults in their lives and it is vitally important for schools to develop parents’ understanding, experience and attitude towards arts and culture. Schools are key to engaging parents in understanding both the value of participation in arts and cultural experiences and the arts and creative industries as a viable future career option for their children. With falling local populations and pupil enrolments, where parents choose to send their children can increasingly mean the difference between survival and closure. In some areas, family and parental voice is becoming as important to schools as league tables. High quality arts and cultural provision and emphasis on experiential learning opportunities will make schools more appealing to many parents, while others will make selections based on past performance tables and Ofsted reports.

Time and money Most schools have little experience of or skills in fundraising and this issue is compounded by the lack of time available in school to build this capacity. When opportunities are sent into school that require completion of a lengthy application form with little guarantee of success, the reality is that more often than not they won’t be completed. Schools recognise that building a longer term relationship with an arts organisation will be mutually beneficial but often their budget only enables them to afford a workshop from an arts organisation or a practitioner for a day. Schools do want to know about quality provision available locally but again don’t often have the time to do the necessary research. Relevant information doesn’t always get through to teachers either with opportunities sometimes being discarded by reception before they are even seen. Schools would like the most relevant initiatives to be signposted to them by the Bridge along with support writing the bid. They would also like examples of bids from people who have received funding in the past.

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The role of the senior leadership team Schools with a strong track record in arts and cultural provision have buy in at senior management team level from individuals who understand and can articulate how sustained high quality cultural interventions contribute to school improvement, improved learning outcomes and raised achievement. Schools welcomed Henley’s idea of a cultural learning lead in each school who would be a member of the senior leadership team and act as a first point of contact and cultural champion within the school. This person would be responsible for knowing what’s available, bringing appropriate cultural provision in to school and signposting pupils to cultural activity in the wider community. They would also be a key contact for the Bridge who would give them as much information as possible and encourage them to feedback on provision taken up. They felt this role should be delivered by a member of existing staff who would understand the complexities of the school and be able to negotiate these from within when planning programmes and initiatives.

Without external funding however it was felt that this would be difficult to embed on any significant scale. There are too many other pressures and not enough time or capacity for existing members of staff to prioritise this kind of work. One school suggested a cluster of schools could share responsibility for taking on an individual to fulfil this role, signposting local provision, pooling resources and coordinating activities between schools, using a model similar to that of the Extended Services Co-ordinators or the School Sports Coordinator roles. Professional development It’s important to advocate for the specific role teachers themselves play and will continue to play in delivering arts and cultural education. Many of those consulted believe current professional development in relation to developing arts and cultural learning opportunities in the classroom is wholly inadequate for the school workforce. Looking towards opportunities, the eleven Teaching Schools in the North West could provide a valuable resource here, perhaps supporting NQTs to deliver arts education in partnership with arts organisations. This would develop real world connections to the cultural sector and ensure real relevance.

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Free schools and academies It is hoped that some interesting models may emerge in the region where free schools and academies come forward and prioritise cultural learning. There are opportunities for the cultural sector to play a role in advocating to head teachers and governors for this approach. Schools could involve creative partners in curriculum planning and integrate cultural activity into their day to day work by taking on creative partners as members of the core team. Such schools, rather like Creative Partnerships ‘Schools of Creativity’ could support others to take this approach by sharing practice widely and evidencing the impact high quality arts and cultural provision can have on learning outcomes and achievement.

Schools as cultural community hubs Our vision is to develop the concept of schools as outward facing cultural hubs in communities. We will work with schools to help them define themselves as cultural spaces which are accessible and relevant to the communities they serve, and which have wide knowledge of local provision grounded in local networks. Despite all of the contextual challenges, there is still real appetite amongst teachers to push for arts and culture to be the heart of school improvement, family engagement and learning programmes. There are some practical barriers emerging from new BSF schools in relation to this vision, one who reports not being able to put pupils’ work on the walls themselves (‘it has to be sent to a company that turns it into a peelable transparency’) and another who describes the barriers to using school spaces for the community (‘you have to buy the space back at extortionate commercial rates out of core school hours’).

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Cluster working The changing relationships with local authorities mean that many schools are now keen to develop new clusters or strengthen existing clusters with a focus on developing arts and cultural provision. These clusters would come together to share expertise in different art form areas, explore principles of good partnership working, pool funding resources and work together to co-commission provision. The bridge will work with these clusters to offer advice and ideas around integrating arts and culture into School Improvement Plans and using Artsmark and Arts Award to improve engagement, progression and achievement.

Networks and advocacy There is a clear role for the Bridge in tapping into existing school networks of heads through the National College for School Leadership, the Teaching Schools Network and academy networks, for example. Sub regional networks of schools can act as leaders and advocates for arts, culture and creativity in this new landscape. The Bridge will work alongside these networks and other key regional and national educational partners to support the campaign for arts and culture to remain a core part of the curriculum as separate subjects and to ensure all children and young people have regular access to arts and culture within their educational settings. Local authorities often say it is the same schools that engage with every offer over and over again. There is work for the Bridge, arts and cultural organisations and other key partners to do to engage more schools so that a greater proportion of children and young people have access to these opportunities and not only those attending the most culturally engaged schools.

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Key priorities for the Bridge in year one – Signpost schools to relevant opportunities and offer bid writing support. – Research forums for accessing schools en masse and use these opportunities to advocate for arts and culture in education; e.g. Primary and Secondary Head Association’s annual conference, National College for School Leadership events along with North West regional education gatherings. – Launch a campaign encouraging every school in the North West to nominate a member of the senior leadership team as a Cultural Education Champion as their first point of contact for the Bridge. Sign up as many schools as possible in the first six months and ensure regular contact is maintained. – Work with sub regional school clusters to offer advice on arts and cultural programmes and how Artsmark and Arts Award can be used to improve engagement, progression and achievement. – Invest time in advocating for schools to regularly include arts and cultural activities in the decisions they make. – Offer support to head teachers and teachers to keep the creative and cultural agenda alive. – Develop strategic relationships with the Teaching Schools in the North West.

Schools and the Education Sector

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A secondary school in the North West The school has had a very unstable few years due to low standards and other significant challenges that come from being in a deprived area. The school has a falling roll which is set to continue. This means there is a lot less funding around which is making is difficult to implement new initiatives when they are simultaneously making staff redundant. Staff are also very stretched for time, and the school offers a wide range of subjects at KS4 which makes the timetable very tricky and not very flexible. Recently they have been concentrating on settling and cohering the staff team but the head is now keen to use culture and creativity to enliven the curriculum. The school has excellent art teachers and a strong performing arts department. School productions are always incredibly well attended by the local community and pupils, and there is very little other provision in the local area. The head is aware that the school is literally the heart of the local community. He takes this responsibility very seriously and would like to grow the school into a creative hub for the use of the whole community, not just the pupils.

The school has limited cultural connections but they do have a lot of experience of working with other outside agencies, especially around sport. There are some visits to cultural institutions, but they would benefit from more. There are a handful of artists who are used occasionally to enhance classroom activity. They tend to use people they have used before or ask other schools for recommendations. They do not currently engage with Arts Award or Artsmark, but might consider this once other more pressing issues are addressed. The head believes that culture and creativity could hold the key to making the curriculum more accessible for the type of pupils his school has. He feels the current curriculum is too academic and doesn’t work for his pupils. His pupils have limited experience of the wider world and opening up more arts and culture experiences could raise their aspirations. He believes cultural learning encourages resilience, enthusiasm and curiosity. For this teacher, quality is something personalised to his pupils, something which engages them successfully and something with a long term impact with clear outcomes.

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A Special Educational Needs school in the North West This is a specialist performing arts college that runs their own theatre company in partnership with a professional theatre company. The whole FE department give a full day a week to the theatre company and are involved with every element of production including props, costume and technical provision. They tour to other schools and have performed at adult training events for those working with SEN children. As a specialist college, they also provide CPD training to schools around KS3 dance, drama, music and art. The deputy head is concerned there are very few progression routes for their pupils and wants to use the theatre company as a form of advocacy to communicate with people responsible for SEN post 19 provision. They want to continue to actively support the professional theatre company working with them as they are worried they may soon go out of business. This is the only company that provides arts and cultural provision out of school that is accessible for their pupils in the local area. Teachers are very enthusiastic and on board but sometimes the parents need persuading and they do lots of open sessions to encourage parents to come along and see what their children are getting out of the arts and cultural provision on offer. Many pupils can’t travel independently and the school spends a lot of time advocating the value of arts and cultural experiences to parents as so many of the pupils are reliant on their parents and carers to make anything possible for them out of school hours.

For this school the arts and culture are the key ways in which they support pupils to communicate and express themselves and to value their work. Being creative is secondary to all this – for these young people it’s a way of developing the skills they need for life. In selecting practitioners the school always starts with people they’ve worked with before whom they know they trust. It takes a long time for people to get to understand the complexities of the pupils and the school so they re-use people wherever possible. The deputy will occasionally take a risk on someone new but prefers not to. For this teacher, a quality practitioner is someone who invests in planning and reflecting as part of the process, provides equal emphasis across process and product and engages all pupils in achieving something new. Funding isn’t currently a problem as they have this through their specialist status although this will end next year. They have previously had fundraising training to help staff source money. From the Bridge the school would like to be part of a network to share ideas with other teachers and attend artist marketplace events to find new people and information about funding and help in accessing it.

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A primary school in the North West This was a Creative Partnerships Change School and in the academic year following the end of Creative Partnerships the school governors committed £20k to arts and culture, which was used to bring in two excellent practitioners, supporting all classes for a full year. This funding has now gone and will not be renewed. Following Ofsted this year the school is under incredible pressure to improve attainment as they are not currently hitting their floor targets. The falling standards are putting enormous pressure on staff, they are worried they will be forced to become an academy and are strongly resistant to this. The head is not against arts and culture but not particularly involved in it either. The current focus is firmly on raising attainment and the school are looking for quick wins. There is a general perception within the school that using culture as a tool for learning does get results but not quickly enough.

They are still using a lot of the skills learned through Creative Partnerships and have done some interesting projects but less than they want. They have regular dance workshops funded through the school sports partnership but feel this is slightly different because it comes from a sport perspective. The children themselves would really like a choir and their class teacher is trying to make this happen. For most children English is their second language and singing and voice are a priority for the school to encourage the children to be vocal and to express their opinions. However, the staff don’t feel they have the skills within the staff team to make the choir happen and there is no money to bring anyone in. Widening their perspectives and experiences of life is essential, as these children do very little except ‘go home, have dinner, do homework, go to mosque’. To combat this the school has shortened the official day by thirty minutes to ensure they offer the pupils some cultural experiences within school time. This does mean however that the day is very rushed and there is less time to squeeze everything in.

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For this teacher, a quality arts and cultural experience is practical, hands on and interactive. It must have a high visual content because of the language barriers and be good value for money. She prefers individual practitioners to big companies as she feels larger companies don’t listen properly to school’s needs and just do what they do. This teacher would choose a practitioner if they had been recommended by another school. They tend to use the same people and places as new things are a gamble and it’s time consuming to find out about them. From the Bridge this teacher would like a directory of opportunities, particularly if they had reviews from other teachers from a similar type of school. She would like the bridge to work with artists to help them understand schools better and to be able to explain more clearly what areas of the curriculum their work will benefit. Everything has to be linked to learning outcomes and practitioners are not always good at making the links, which means the teachers have to do extra work to make these links explicit.

It would be good to create a forum where schools can meet and talk although getting out of school is costly and problematic, so it must be effective. Schools could cluster together to bring companies from further away and share the cost of travel and accommodation. Funding information would be useful but it would have to be quick and easy to access.

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Relationships Between Arts and Cultural Organisations and Schools

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A key remit of the Bridge organisation is to help schools identify and access arts and cultural opportunities and help cultural organisations bring the experiences they offer to more children and young people. This section gathers a range of perspectives on the issues, challenges and benefits of partnership working between schools and cultural organisations that result in effective learning outcomes for children and young people. We also offer some actions we will take to support effective partnership working between these sectors. It is no exaggeration to say that these sectors live in different worlds and one of the biggest challenges in bringing together two sectors used to different realities, terminologies, concepts and pressures is developing a shared language that enables meaningful collaboration to follow. Good practice requires a two way flow of listening and dialogue.

Accessing one another Supporting arts and cultural organisations to find and access one another is only the beginning. But it is one of the biggest challenges. Cultural organisations often find schools difficult to make contact with. Many more teachers have email now than they did a few years ago but it can still be hard to access the right email address and ensure information reaches its destination and is not lost at the reception desk. The majority of arts and cultural organisations engaged with thus far want access to schools simplified and opened up. Schools say they know there are brilliant people out there but they don’t have enough time to research the options available to them. We know that teachers don’t have the time to spend hours researching provision so we have to make it as easy as possible for them to access. Teachers often live away from the immediate area and so may not know what’s happening locally in the community in relation to cultural opportunities.

Relationships Between Arts and Cultural Organisations and Schools

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Selecting provision When asked specifically about the arts, schools valued a wide range of art forms; music, theatre, dance and visual arts were the most popular but their perception is that affordable provision is not easily accessible. Arts organisations, with the support of the Bridge, need to get better at positioning themselves as an invaluable resource to schools. The most common criteria affecting school’s selection of external provision are value for money, positive experiences of working with them before, their expertise of a particular art form and their capacity to link their work to the curriculum. Some schools will only use practitioners they have worked with before or who come highly recommended from schools similar to their own. They say quality varies greatly and if you don’t know the person or provision

There was a strong view in one arts officers network that some schools are favouring price over quality when bringing in arts and cultural practitioners, having an unsatisfactory experience and then abandoning arts and culture altogether. Reference was often made to the learning and value of the brokerage process developed through the Creative Partnerships programme; encouraging cultural organisations to diagnose needs and broker a bespoke response is perhaps the most effective way to engage schools. However, some cultural organisations working in the current context struggled to see how this would be possible with increasingly limited resources impacting on capacity so strongly. Schools may be more confident in approaching arts and cultural organisations they don’t have historical connections with if they can trust providers have attained certain standards. Henley suggests this should align with how Ofsted assesses whether learning is of a high standard and believes this would help heads be more confident in trusting they are spending money wisely and their investment will have significant impact. Some teachers applauded this idea. Others said they would still want recommendations from a school or another head they knew locally.

It’s a lottery as to what you’ll get. People market themselves so well but often it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just words.

Relationships Between Arts and Cultural Organisations and Schools

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Money The schools surveyed in the All About Audiences school survey had all spent something on external arts provision in the past year but 56% spent less than £1000 and 41% said they would spend less money next year. Only two schools said they would spend more. Two thirds of schools surveyed by All About Audiences had engaged with an arts or cultural organisation in the last two years. For 92% of schools the most common way of connecting was through a one off workshop in school or a visit to a show, exhibition or event. Two thirds of schools had worked with freelance arts practitioners and a third had employed freelance practitioners for a month or more. This is by no means a representative sample but it does highlight a particular challenge for arts organisations. It appears that the schools most open to engaging with external arts and cultural provision are much more likely to employ a freelance practitioner for an extended period than engage with an arts or cultural organisation for the same length of time.

Relationships Between Arts and Cultural Organisations and Schools

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Relevance to the curriculum and learning outcomes Schools want to work with arts and cultural organisations who can provide a clear offer tied to pupil learning outcomes. They also want organisations to be flexible about tailoring their approach to school needs and want to work with practitioners who are keen to develop dialogue with teachers and are open to joint planning approaches. Schools therefore need to take responsibility for articulating these needs clearly and be explicit about required learning outcomes. Cultural organisations must ensure their activities are fulfilling the requirements of schools, by ensuring their offer supports classroom learning and makes explicit links to the curriculum and supports learning outcomes. Organisations need to take time to understand the market and work hard to keep up to speed with any changes in curriculum focus. Understanding the pressures schools face can help organisations target their offer accordingly. If schools are under pressure to improve literacy, numeracy and wellbeing, then a programme supporting teachers to meet one or more of these needs may be welcomed with open arms.

Museums and Galleries hope that their potential for cross curriculum appeal based on the breadth of their collections, staff resources and buildings can be made known to schools and in the wider cultural sector. It will be seen in the section on partnerships that people were excited by the possibility of collaborations across the sector to do this. They also hope that their relationship with the Bridge will help them understand Arts Council England and its aims and priorities.

Relationships Between Arts and Cultural Organisations and Schools

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Practical challenges Some schools look to national institutions such as the RSC rather than local providers because they believe they are more geared up for sending a touring company into schools. Some teachers say provision has to come to school as it is too difficult to take pupils on external visits. Transport and the associated expense, risk assessments and other paperwork, the time it takes to organise and not being allowed to take pupils off timetable are all given as significant reasons for not taking pupils out of school. For many cultural venues and sites this is problematic as they believe taking provision into schools reinforces the negative perceptions many children form from a first experience of culture; ‘the visit to school.’ They want young people early on to form positive memories and experience imaginative encounters with cultural learning experiences in incredible settings outside the classroom.

Solutions to some of these challenges were offered from many organisations to help with paperwork and bureaucracy including downloadable risk assessments, model documents on websites , pre visit activity sessions along with ideas for INSETS. Example were given where the school can justify the cost of a coach because cultural organisations have collaborated to present fantastic combined experiences that last a full day and link with specific curriculum topic areas.

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Models of partnership working There are many models of excellent practice for partnership working between cultural organisations and schools which should be shared more widely. In simple terms, arts organisations and schools need to work more closely together. Programmes designed around ad hoc short term interventions will not sustain cultural organisations in the longer term. Instead programmes need to be developed in response to the real needs of schools, linked to the curriculum, shaped by teachers and pupils and aligned with the school calendar. If arts organisations liaise effectively with a number of schools who can be clear about what they would like to buy, perhaps a year ahead if necessary, then if that package is of high quality it follows that other schools will be interested in this package too.

One gallery has set up a popular bi-monthly primary school art teachers network while a city based theatre company has regular secondary drama teachers gatherings. At this gathering one teacher suggested more schools would book theatre trips if they were scheduled to run at 4pm so they could be brought to the theatre straight from school. This way pupils wouldn’t have to go home and then come back again and everyone would be home by mid evening. This, coupled with programming appropriate performances at the right times in the school calendar in response to teacher feedback, has been attributed to the massive increase in ticket sales from schools. Despite all the challenges, many cultural organisations believe working with schools rather than in informal settings can have greater impact on children and young people because they are a ‘captive audience.’ With out of school groups it can be very difficult to establish contact with a group that has the stability to develop work over an extended period of time.

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Partnering schools and cultural organisations We are interested in developing a programme where schools and cultural organisations partner up, rather like a twinning programme but with schools and organisations selecting one another freely and hopefully developing meaningful and long term bonds. We would like to explore with small groups what this might look like if organisations and schools were twinned and made space to build a relationship based on open and honest dialogue. These would be reciprocal relationships wherein arts organisations gather a deeper understanding of school needs and valuable feedback on recent initiatives, while teachers share and gather ideas for curriculum innovation in the arts.

For cultural organisations it could be an opportunity to get to grips with the language of learning outcomes and the pressures schools face, a space for artist residencies or research and development, an opportunity to gather tips for ‘selling’ packages to other schools and an opportunity for audience development through engaging directly with more parents and families. For schools it could offer access to the use of a venue as a performance, access to new practitioners and CPD opportunities and real world opportunities for pupils to connect with a professional cultural organisation. As these relationships develop a deeper understanding of school needs emerge, resulting in higher quality programmes and increased business.

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Bridge key priorities in year one Information – Create a comprehensive information and brokerage service to schools, working closely with a wide range of arts and cultural providers and existing networks to cohere and signpost provision and make it easier for schools to access. – Raise awareness within schools and youth settings of what local cultural organisations can offer. Encourage schools to make better use of what is geographically close to them. – Support arts and cultural providers to tailor their offer to the particular needs and priorities of schools through highlighting good examples and signposting. Brokerage – Explore how genuine dialogue can take place between schools and arts organisations as a basis for developing new models of engagement that lead to sustained creative and cultural provision for children and young people and report back on this. – Support schools in developing their ability to engage with cultural practitioners and cultural organisations and become effective commissioners with a more sophisticated understanding of quality and value for money. – Support best practice through signposting resources on our website such as forums, case studies, ‘top tips’ and ‘how to’ guides. Networks and events – Stage annual marketplace events, coinciding with the school financial year, in which schools can meet providers for a non-committal face-to-face conversation. This is viewed positively by schools as an efficient way of meeting people face to face and making contacts for the year ahead. – Offer opportunities to share innovative partnership working ideas across networks and at specific events. – Support existing Arts and Culture Networks run by arts and cultural organisations for teachers and extend, encourage or introduce new networks where these are lacking.

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A model of partnership working A rural secondary school in Lancashire has a strong partnership with a local performing arts venue and the extent to which young people are engaged in influencing activity within this organisation is impressive. The venue facilitates a forum of young people (in school hours), supported by four local high schools. This forum strongly influences what is delivered by the venue so that the programmes can be genuinely seen to represent young people’s ideas and curriculum needs. For the venue it’s a short term guarantee that tickets will be bought for current shows and a long term audience development strategy based on customer loyalty. For schools it’s about connecting outward, having genuine ownership and a real world connection with professional theatre.

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Ideas from the cultural sector focus groups for engaging schools – Agree organisation specialisms and do less but do it better, co-ordinate offer across organisations and agree who and where to target so we’re not all hitting the same schools. – Drip feed schools with information, promoting through lots of key partners. – Bring schools together for creative events and build on the relationship developed from these shared experiences. – Work with the highest quality artists to develop shared programmes of training for schools. – Get schools and arts organisations to work together more strategically as peers sharing skills. Encourage skills exchange and a mutual support mentality.

– Schools need to be involved from the start to take ownership. Find out from heads where they see arts and culture fitting into their school working day. It has to start with the needs of the schools rather than what we think fits. – Phone up teachers and build the personal relationship. Make sure they have the right information to hand, make them feel they are part of something bigger that they can contribute to. – Have a network of heads and teachers but look for ways to keep information flowing to the wider staff network. – Use Arts Award as a vehicle to access schools; accreditation opportunities often engage heads. – Offer short twilight sessions in inspirational cultural venues or informal sessions around a theme, rather like a book club.

Relationships Between Arts and Cultural Organisations and Schools

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The Creative and Cultural Sector

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In this context the creative and cultural sector encompasses individual freelance practitioners, small to medium enterprises and larger cultural institutions. It includes arts organisations, museums and libraries, and organisations specialising in heritage and film. The bridge will play a key role in providing support to the arts and cultural sector, both in terms of providing a regional overview to support strategic programming and in terms of providing constructive challenge designed to drive up quality. Arts and cultural organisations are asking for varying levels of support, from engaging schools, families and wider communities to creating relationships with venues and helping schools raise money. Our key aim is to bring more young people and arts organisations together in meaningful ways.

Strategic landscape The picture is wide and varied. The publication of the Henley Review of Cultural Education and the government’s positive response has provided a recent boost to the cultural sector. However, many organisations across the arts and cultural sector have been severely affected by budget cuts. Others will have more money this year. Cuts and reductions in funding mean some organisations may cease working with children and young people. The recession continues to have an impact on organisations dependent on ticket revenue and/or commissions. The most anxious arts organisations are those who were unsuccessful in their bid to become an NPO.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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National Portfolio Organisations For many NPOs, their work with children and young people was a key element of their successful funding application and so their provision in this area will either remain stable, increase or in some instances become a significant strand of their work for the first time. For others, their provision for children and young people will remain the primary purpose of the organisation and they will use ACE funding along with other confirmed funding streams to support their work. Some organisations feel that becoming an NPO will create a perception they have plenty of funding and will make it harder for them to bring in additional resources. NPO’s are no longer able to bid into Grants for the Arts and for some NPO’s this had accounted for up to 50% of their funding in the past. This is causing concern for some. Others are worried about their own lack of skills in applying for and finding funding, coupled with a lack of time and resource to seek funding opportunities. Others cite lack of marketing support, expertise or budget as key issues.

Impact of local authority cuts The decreased capacity of local authority officers, arts development teams, neighbourhood and renewal managers and youth support is not only impacting directly on the targeted services they deliver but also on the capacity of cultural and community organisations to reach out to wider audiences. These organisations are finding it harder to attract match funding to contribute to grant applications and partnership projects without local authority support and organisations who have historically been commissioned by local authorities to deliver services for children and young people are finding it difficult to plan ahead. The high turnover of staff due to cuts and restructuring is making it difficult to sustain relationships and continuity. In reality people have relationships with other people rather than with organisations and when a particular champion of an organisation leaves a local authority, for example, it can feel as if the partnership had never existed. It is widely recognised that local authorities are no longer a route to access schools and there is no longer a direct conduit through the local authority between schools and other organisations. Organisations are finding it more and more challenging to contact schools and very time

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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intensive. With the loss of LEA advisers and disappearance of school clusters, it is virtually impossible to contact schools en masse and the economies of scale that made block bookings possible have been lost. In some instances arts and cultural organisations may now be competing with newly independent, ex-local authority school improvement providers for school commissions. However, as educational settings will no longer receive school improvement services from the local authority there are real opportunities here for cultural organisations themselves to become training support providers. Arts organisations, museums and libraries are following many of the traditional engagement paths, focussing on young people with economic deprivation, disabilities, offending behaviour (including imprisonment), addictions

and substance abuse, BME communities or simple lack of engagement. Meanwhile, local authorities are either pursuing an ‘everything for everybody’ model in which their residents can try everything regardless of targeting or services have to be so minutely targeted that there is no room for development. There may be some support the Bridge can offer in reconciling these two approaches as the local authorities are in many cases commissioning or funding the arts organisations to deliver. Some said that arts and cultural organisations need to get much better at using the funding that is available from Children’s Services and health services to deliver real measurable outcomes, offering a more rigorous approach to planning and measuring impact, and with a greater emphasis on professional standards and quality assurance.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Partnerships with schools Arts organisations are saying there is a big slump in bookings from schools and that schools are being thrifty with what they have because they are still waiting to hear about future funding and the full extent of the long term cuts facing them. The consensus is that schools have less money to spend on external partners and it’s harder to work with them because they’re ‘so burdened with targets.’ The end of Creative Partnerships funding has had a big impact on some organisations in terms of reduced income. There are less requests for support with after school provision too. Some cultural organisations say persuading schools to connect with a fully subsidised free offer is challenging enough and often impossible. At some point cultural organisations will have to decide whether to focus on a strategy that engages with as many schools and young people as possible or whether to offer more meaningful relationships in fewer settings. Some organisations are currently feeling the tensions between these two approaches. How this plays out will of course depend on how the market emerges, which at this time is difficult to predict.

The impact of reduced funding on direct work with children and young people Reduced funding within arts and cultural organisations has resulted in reduced staff, particularly for outreach work and this is impacting on capacity to deliver long term sustained work with and for children and young people. Nearly all arts and cultural organisations have a specific strategic objective around access and inclusion. But as the money recedes, special projects delivering access work as outreach are seemingly being replaced with partnerships for imaginative projects in the museum, gallery or theatre itself. There is a perception that most of the funding streams open to the creative and cultural sector now are very project focused. Individually funded projects often provide irregular bursts of activity, making it more difficult to offer sustained activity for children and young people over extended periods. It is felt that outreach work cannot be funded effectively through short term project funding and core costs are now rarely available to fulfil the purpose of outreach. There is more about this in the Engagement section of this report.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Many funders appear to be pushing for numbers over quality. For some arts organisations, the sheer diversity of funding streams they are managing means that projects have such a variety of goals and audiences that any overall offer for children and young people has been considerably diluted. For those working within the constraints of a commercially operated venue it is proving difficult to ensure that provision for children and young people is prioritised. One organisation commented;

Some locally based arts organisations are now being asked to deliver their offer across a much larger geographical area to widen their reach. There are concerns that capacity challenges will mean this outreach offer is in reality spread very thinly. There is concern that the organisational vision, objectives and integrity of the work of arts organisations is being compromised by the necessity of becoming more funding led. Some organisations are finding it difficult to shift gear and become more pragmatic when it comes to fundraising. A considerable number working within arts and cultural organisations said the sector needs to be less precious and get on with the real business of making a meaningful difference to lives by addressing the needs of their participants. This may require prioritising a social or community vision over an artistic vision in order to access public funds. One individual described it as

Without ongoing provision such as a youth theatre or orchestra and with irregular events aimed specifically at young people it is hard to find meaningful ways to engage them other than as an external audience. It is hard to interest them through social media and it is particularly hard to connect with young people whose parents are not existing users of the venue.
There are a large number of private providers offering drama, dance & music provision of varying degrees and quality. This can be quite expensive and many families cannot access this type of provision. Some organisations express concern that they are in competition with these providers who ‘market themselves all over the place.’

Connecting authentically, creatively and passionately with the people who have the most to gain from the amazing opportunities culture offers.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Engaging with young people Many organisations cite a significant increase in participation rates when they go into local communities and meet young people in the environments they inhabit. There are many successful models demonstrating how important it is to engage audiences by meeting them on their own terms. For example, the Rural Touring Network, who has a thorough understanding of the profile of rural communities, has been successful at building audiences by visiting secondary schools, building relationships with the head of performing arts and offering taster workshops in advance of performances and. Last year only 27% of their work was specific to children and young people but 95% of it was suitable for children and young people. Teenagers often want to engage with work created for an adult audience rather than with something designed specifically for them. Some cultural organisations could be much better at communicating with schools and young people digitally and make better use of social networking which is very young person friendly and much cheaper than print and flyer distribution.

Some arts organisations recognise they could be better at extending and developing the skills and confidence of their staff in engaging with young people and making them feel welcome. Venues, particularly museums, need to encourage the feeling of ownership of a local resource that many visitors may have; several cited examples of visitors demanding displays they remember from childhood should stay the same. Work for, with and by children and young people can often be devalued or seen as inferior. Two theatre companies talked about marketing shows involving children to downplay the young people element in order to sell tickets. Young people are sometimes seen as ‘a desirable demographic to work with for funding streams.’ Others said there is no point trying to be all things to all people; ‘Do we always have to chase everybody? It dilutes the offer.’ Another commented:

Make sure your door isn’t closed, but don’t worry if they don’t go. The sector would be better off seeing themselves as a menu that audiences go to as and when suits them and their time of life!

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The freelance workforce There are concerns that the emphasis on NPO’s by Arts Council England and potentially by the Bridge may destabilise the freelance market. This coupled with the end of Creative Partnerships, which relied mainly on freelance practitioners to deliver creative learning programmes, means there are fewer projects around to keep practitioners in work and it is possible particular expertise and specialisms may be lost. There is also concern that moving forward there will be inadequate investment in the ongoing skills development of creative professionals and in young people wanting to gain professional experience. There is a collective responsibility for arts and cultural organisations to continue investing in the development of existing and emerging practitioners as they often depend heavily on freelancers to deliver their programmes.

We all need and value the freelance workforce, we know that freelance practitioners bring innovation and creativity and fresh approaches and we must collectively do what we can to support this workforce. Perhaps arts organisations and organisations like Curious Minds could invite freelance practitioners in to access training opportunities alongside their own staff teams around areas such as project management and budgeting, reporting and evidencing impact, and safeguarding for example. Some arts organisations are saying it is harder to retain good freelance practitioners as there is less work to offer them and they are either leaving the area or the business for good. We will ensure that continuing professional development and networking opportunities are opened up to freelance practitioners as well as arts and cultural organisations wherever possible.

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Breaking down cultural barriers There continue to be very real class barriers in the arts, creative and cultural sectors. Elitist attitudes still pervade the sector as a whole and a great many families believe culture is ‘not for them.’ The reality is that community arts is still perceived as a poor relation to traditional arts institutions and a significant percentage of the largest grants are still directed to arts organisations whose principal client base is drawn from the educated middle classes. If the sector harbours a genuine desire to develop ‘family capital’ there needs to be a massive shift in attitudes and a good hard look at both how it presents itself and how it is perceived. Within the sector there was a sense that some of the larger arts and cultural organisations contribute to the perceptions of elitism in the way they showcase themselves as institutions.

Safeguarding procedures Many organisations feel that the CRB process could be radically simplified and overhauled. There was suggestions of a ‘passport’ system so that each school, arts organisation and Local Authority does not have to continually check practitioners anew which is costly, time consuming and overly complex.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Learning for arts and cultural organisations In the current climate there is very little space for short term ad hoc initiatives based on what arts and cultural organisations want to do. Publicly funded organisations in this sector need to acknowledge that their function must be sector and need led rather than organisational offer led. Too often there appears, and this is noted by the cultural sector directly, a focus on the self preservation of charitable organisations at the expense of the individuals and communities they are there to serve. Stronger linkages need to be built between education departments and programmers within large arts organisations. Programming staff should work more closely with education staff in programming work so there are opportunities to ensure the work relevant to children and young people aligns meaningfully with the school calendar and that opportunities for extending the reach of the work can be built in. This isn’t always easy to achieve as funding contracts and organisations have to prove their worth by serving wide audiences. Many organisations could work harder to ensure their offer is as open and accessible as possible, either for targeted groups to access more readily or for those who do not often access arts and culture. Within a few clicks the offer should be clear and easily understood so that young people, families and schools know exactly what is available for them to access.

There is a lack of coherence, cross marketing and signposting between providers. Curious Minds will play a key role in seeking to cohere this offer but everyone needs to take some responsibility for this. It is felt that if the sector were more united in its approach and had a clear set of shared principles and ideas that the case for arts and culture would be more coherent and therefore have more influence. The arts and cultural sector is resilient and people remain highly motivated. Some cultural organisations are designing programmes now to meet outcomes wider than the traditional curriculum and are focusing on health and emotional well being, for example. There are opportunities for organisational development too; for example, reconstituting as a not-for-profit organisation to access a wider set of prospects. Some existing arts organisations are branching innovatively into new art form areas; for example, one theatre company is branching into digital animation and has invested in a good quality camera and mobile studio. They believe this will offer more opportunities for outreach work and they would like the Bridge to help them by promoting taster sessions.

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Key Bridge priorities for year one Funding – Partnership investment and business development – support organisations to respond to new opportunities and broker partnerships that bring new money into the region – Develop the capacity of the sector to work closely with other civil society partners to achieve increased levels of investment through local authority commissioning and consortium bids, for example

Communications – Offer regular updates to arts and cultural organisations on changes to education policy and flag up their potential relevance – Support arts and cultural organisations to get information out to the right places and use social media as a key marketing tool – Support organisations with advocacy, raising awareness of organisations’ skills and expertise, demonstrating that the work has meaningful presence and is making a measurable difference to their audience and/or the communities in which they are located – Support organisations to measure and demonstrate their worth through region-wide evaluation or research

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Activity – Explore using the role of the bridge organisation as a regional body to offer ticket deals to schools en masse that would otherwise not be feasible – Encourage arts and cultural organisations to widen the cultural experience they offer to access more young people and to prioritise more work aimed at families – Support the expansion of Arts Award in museums and libraries – Signpost the offer available to young people at museums, libraries and heritage settings and support these settings to develop their marketing through social networks

Networking and workforce development – Create opportunities for libraries to connect with other arts and cultural organisations and educational settings in the local area and share ideas and successes around creating sustained engagement with young people and families – Workforce development and knowledge sharing Provide opportunities for arts and cultural organisations to come together and pool resources to offer work based learning around key functions such as governance, pedagogy, evaluation and safeguarding – Convene seminars to help arts and cultural organisations address key questions such as: How do we meet young people in the first place? How do we work with the local authority to link to children and young people? How do we build relationships with family and significant adults that young people engage with?

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Museums and heritage settings Funding The loss of Renaissance funding is a huge concern for museums who were key partners in the wider hub. For example, the reduction of a three person learning team to a single person in one museum means a massive reduction in what they will be able to provide for children and young people. Others are worried about the loss of training & networking between museums and galleries that was provided by Renaissance.

The funding cuts are putting pressure on Education and Learning teams in museums to income generate and the quality of programmes varies greatly. There seems to be considerable duplication and competitiveness across and between museums based in the same area. While some schools will always choose to work with a museum on their doorstep that they can literally walk to, most schools will need to use transport to access even a relatively local museum. Some schools feel the current offer is confusing and would prefer a more streamlined offer wherein they could understand the distinct specialism that each museum offers.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Curriculum There are concerns that Arts Council’s focus on the arts will mean that many museums wider offer of cross-curricular learning and teaching across the curriculum is neglected. Many of these organisations offer very specific curriculum focused work. One museum supporting the teaching of Science, for example, would want to promote science based accreditation for young people rather than Arts Award. There were concerns that diminishing staff capacity and funding uncertainty, with few opportunities for Research and Development, may mean that experiences will suffer for being safer and that organisations may revert to basic programmes; e.g. tours and basic object handling rather than living history or artist led sessions.

While the quality of the collections are of course important, it seems that Education Officers sometimes underestimate how much teachers benefit from working directly alongside them and having direct access to their expertise. Museums provide unique opportunities for children and young people to visit places of specific interest, but with the ever increasing cost of transport and other logistical challenges, schools are bringing pupils out of school less often. Some museum staff believe many parents think of museums as a school activity and not something they would do at weekends.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Engaging with young people and communities Many settings feel it’s hard to access young people to tell them about what’s available with such limited marketing budgets and are struggling to combat the age-old perception amongst young people and their parents of museums as places with ‘old dusty objects.’ Many organisations have ‘priority audiences’ in addition to children and young people; this can result in conflicting priorities for resources.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Libraries Libraries have massive potential for reaching more children and young people. Library Services are usually embedded within local communities and often link schools, cultural organisations and communities together. Those who don’t access cultural institutions often feel at home in libraries. Libraries are also great sources of information and places where local arts and cultural provision can be promoted. Libraries see themselves as a key resource to support schools to improve standards of literacy. Many libraries acknowledge that digital technology is forcing fast paced change and sometimes feel they need support in keeping up. Finding young people to engage with libraries on a sustained basis can be challenging and staff may have limited experience of engaging with young people. Get It Loud In Libraries has been a particularly successful initiative in Lancashire which puts bands on in libraries to get more people through the door and dispel the perception that libraries are outdated and have too many rules.

Evaluation suggests that 60 - 80% of the people who came to the gigs, mainly young people, had never been in a library before and there have been 27,000 new library users largely attributed to this project.  Young people have been involved in all kinds of ways beyond being audience members such as shadowing technicians, coordinating publicity, media and design, and running refreshment bars. Get It Loud In Libraries has not been cheap to run and the reality of getting local libraries on board has been challenging but it provides a brilliant example of how cultural spaces can be used in innovative ways. Historically there is no particular remit for librarians to use arts as a vehicle for engaging children and young people but many do as they have found it so successful. Sleepovers in libraries have also been successful, using games and activities to give children the opportunity to try out all types of library resources, honing their library skills in an effort to win a themed scavenger hunt. The evening creates a special bond between children and the library and leaves a strong impression because children see the library from a different perspective.

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Another example is a film and animation project with schools funded by the BBC to produce films for their local libraries that show other young people how libraries have changed. The films promote two digital media spaces in local libraries that were developed three years ago and are being under-used. Some libraries in the North West have embedded Arts Award into their programming for children and young people, others have started to but most don’t yet offer this. There are examples of great practice where Arts Award has been embedded via a dedicated youth worker post funded by the local authority. Other exciting initiatives include a library currently being refurbished that will include two spaces for artist residencies to take place. Libraries have massive potential for becoming cultural community hubs and family learning opportunities are huge.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Music Hubs Many music services face average cuts of around 60% over the next three years. Some music services are adept at offering provision in line with young people’s preferences; one music service described how X-factor and Rock School type competitions take place alongside brass bands, choirs, orchestras and ensembles. Most music services are confident that every child on their patch currently has the opportunity to experience high quality music making and performing during their primary career, with plenty of well signposted progression routes and buy back from every school in the borough. Many music services also run excellent outreach and out of school provision in community venues. All are very conscious of the significance of the outcome of the pending music hubs application process.

The establishment of Music Hubs will represent a seismic shift in how arts and culture is provided to schools and children and young people in general. It appears some local authority music services do not fully grasp the implications of the Music Education Plan and the market-led context they are now working in while others realise this is an opportunity to develop a business market and are taking steps now to build a high quality, cost effective service that will be schools’ number one choice three years from now and able to pay its own way. The most business minded music services are inviting schools to view Music Services sessions so they can gauge quality just as they would through observing a lesson by a peer. This is an excellent example of a way to engage with schools on their own terms. During the last six months Curious Minds has connected with most of the Music Hub networks as they developed their sub-regional music bids for Arts Council England. Where we have seen good practice and great models of sustainability we have endorsed these networks and consortia fully. Some Music Services have partnered up to offer a joint service (which could potentially offer robust competition in a few years time) and others have bid independently in the hope of preserving their existing service.

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These consortia have agreed with Curious Minds how important it is to gather intelligence on the needs, interests and perceptions of children, young people and schools around arts and cultural opportunities. All potential Hubs have agreed to establish an information sharing agreement with us and to align our information gathering activities with theirs, thus minimising duplication and extending reach. Once knowledge has been processed we will work together to agree a coordinated response to what stakeholders in sub-regions and region-wide are seeking. We have also asked successful Hubs to present their new models and approaches to us in the hope these models may prove transferable to the improvement of arts and cultural provision across the North West more generally. We have also agreed to work together to broker connections between the wider arts and cultural offer for children and young people across the North West and the Hubs.

We will encourage successful Hubs to embed Arts Award within their practice and models of engagement. Arts Award will increase Hubs scope to offer accredited outcomes for the children and young people who take part and we believe this will consequently help drive up engagement. We will help Hubs adapt existing activities and design new programmes that use Arts Award effectively and maximise the number of young people who have their portfolios successfully moderated. Similarly the Bridge will engage with Hubs and advise them on how to maximise the fit between a Music Hub offer and the Artsmark kitemark for schools. We believe this will help drive up engagement with Artsmark and will support schools in communicating to parents, Ofsted and the wider community that their work is of the highest standard. We want to ensure that children and young people, especially the most disengaged, have sincere and meaningful opportunities to exercise their voice and leadership across Music Hub programmes of work. Curious Minds have the empowerment of children and young people as decision-makers as a core principle and the Bridge will be an invaluable source of advice and signposting to best practice for the Hubs.

The Creative and Cultural Sector

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Collaboration and Partnership Working

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Collaboration, done well, has much to offer, not least because of the economies of scale, added value, diversity of practice and higher professional standards that emerge from effective collaboration. There is a real complexity involved in ensuring successful partnership development and collaboration and a need for a deep and practical understanding of the challenges and opportunities involved. There is sometimes tension between commissioners, funders, deliverers and artists. The bridge organisation has a role to play in providing that conduit between national policy, funders and regional providers right through to educational settings and grassroots organisations. Collaboration in 2012 Collaboration in 2012 requires collective will. It requires a clear picture of what each partner brings to the table, honesty and trust, a willingness to acknowledge where the gaps and duplication are and a fundamental desire to put the needs of children and young people first. Streamlining and minimising duplication of resources means more money can be spent on working directly with children and young people. For young people, good collaboration between providers means increased progression routes, a more diverse offer, access to more resources and more opportunities for showcasing work.

These are challenging times but there are also real opportunities to evolve our own practice and work together collaboratively to achieve strategic objectives. Communicating and co-ordinating the offers of different partners collectively, offering complimentary programmes in the same geographical areas, and signposting from one offer to the next are all examples of innovative collaborative practice. Collaboration is not only more important but also more under threat than ever. There are instances of insincere and unequal partnership working with some organisations’ specialist expertise being exploited by others to attract funding. Many organisations feel like they are competing with colleagues for funding as they struggle to cover core costs. Some felt there was very little genuine information sharing between organisations at this time. The competitive climate means we must work hard to break down silos and barriers and build up trust.

Collaboration and Partnership Working

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Pooling resources Many cultural organisations are pooling and sharing physical resources and venue spaces and working together to prepare joint funding bids while some are in the process of full mergers. Two organisations in Manchester are merging within a single new building which will enable the interplay between youth theatre and youth filmmaking to be explored. People are talking collectively about focusing on ‘less but better’; agreeing what’s working well and really focusing on it. The larger supporting the smaller Larger organisations can offer office space, administrative support and resources to smaller peers, collectives or freelancers along with mentoring support to ensure the cultural ecology continues to thrive and remain diverse. There are also working models in the region where a properly constituted larger organisation agrees to vouch for and take legal and financial reporting responsibility for an unconstituted smaller community organisation. There are worries that small arts organisations will find it increasingly difficult to exist in isolation and that the Bridge could play a role in developing a series of consortia to work together who can find a way to thrive through collaboration rather than competition.

Partnership working Ultimately getting better at partnership working is about ensuring the best possible deal for children and young people. A successful partnership pools resources to develop expertise and produce something new. A successful partnership must have mutual benefits and desired outcomes for all partners including children and young people. This may be shared aims and objectives or an exchange of expertise. It requires clarity of roles, objectives grounded in action, enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and a commitment of time. Many organisations are now using partnership links to develop their offer across the sub region or region. Similarly, cultural organisations are working together to share skills between providers. There are some good examples within the region of independent cultural organisations located in close geographical proximity with very different specialisms offering a joined up vision for children and young people’s provision. Another model involves a series of arts organisations in a city centre collaborating to offer Arts Award between them. There is an ongoing role for the Bridge in showcasing good examples of partnership working and collaborative programming.

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While it’s important for organisations to have their own purpose and individual offer there is much to be said for a more joined up approach, working individually but as a collective to connect the dots by providing individual services to bridge the gap of need. There are key conversations to be had around ways in which more organisations and venues can work together to provide opportunities that will engage and appeal to the interests of the young and how we can increase the participation of children and young people who do not normally engage in cultural activities. The Bridge can carry out scoping studies that draw together great practice in the region and share this at seminars. According to many, the sector as a whole should look to work together to provide a complimentary offer with a wide variety of experiences available, working in parallel with those offering individual cultural art forms. Young

people should have access to a broad range of connecting opportunities that build upon each other and stretch them, constantly redefining their sense of what’s possible and continually raising their aspirations. There should be a ‘continuity of care’ across providers so that each experience for a child or young person builds on the last, in response to their own interests. Organisations should be willing to pass participants and projects on to the most appropriate provider and accept some will be better than them at certain things. That said not all offers between arts and cultural organisations are necessarily compatible. Rather than being critical or looking down on another organisations’ work it is important to acknowledge the breadth of provision within the sector that makes for a varied offer. Consortia should be developed because the offers complement, not just because two organisations are sited on the same geographical patch.

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New partnerships and cross sectoral collaboration There is real appetite for new introductions to form fresh partnerships that inspire, provoke and challenge and are based on collaboration rather than competition. It was also suggested the sector could get better at building partnerships in readiness for opportunities to come up, rather than trying to build them into a two to three week commissioning window. The strongest message coming through from cultural organisations was the desire to develop new relationships and collaborations beyond the sector, particularly with voluntary and community providers and agencies. Opportunities to open new conversations and develop cross sectoral networks will be greatly welcomed. Much of this is due to the increasing emphasis on devolving commissioning and decision making to a local level. The voluntary and community sector as a whole will engage much more with the delivery of local education, children’s and cultural services and new partnership agreements between voluntary, public and private providers will be needed to make this work.

Some felt that arts organisations have little to teach each other and that the emphasis should instead be on learning from schools because it is schools that commission them, and from voluntary organisations who have different approaches to engaging young people and accessing funding. It was suggested that mentoring opportunities between cultural organisations and schools and between cultural and voluntary organisations could be very beneficial. There are arts organisations currently working with voluntary, community and faith sector organisations both to upskill them and to benefit from their specialist expertise. Cultural organisations recognise that voluntary and community organisations are experts at bringing communities together and engaging them meaningfully. In time, working together more collaboratively could mean the voluntary and youth sectors playing a much bigger role in enabling more young people to access cultural engagement through referral and signposting to appropriate providers.

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The mixed economy We should continue to value the mixed economy in which we work – sole traders, cultural organisations, public sector bodies and national agencies all have skills and expertise. In this environment it is ever more important to remember everyone has something to bring to the table. Key Bridge priorities for year one Collaboration – Act as a broker, enabler and facilitator to develop a sustainable cultural ecology for children and young people and offer appropriate challenge. – Bring people together to network and forge new partnerships in the role of honest and transparent broker. – Stage a series of sub-regional stakeholder evening events bringing together high-level local authority decision-makers with the chief executives and directors of creative and cultural organisations to discuss opportunities for more effective collaboration. – Assist the honest brokerage of new partnerships and collaborations beyond the sector and facilitate interaction between sectors. – Explore models of cultural and community organisations working together collaboratively and pooling resources and expertise to engage children and young people at entry point – connect more widely with faith groups, the police, NHS primary care trusts, youth services, clubs etc. – Set up consortia partnering with third sector support agencies and small grass roots organisations. – Resource the development of new organisational clusters exploring collaborative art programming or other models of delivery. – Cohere opportunities for strategic and thematic joint delivery across local and regional areas. Showcase work in different settings and explore the commonalities across the region.

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Networks and Networking

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In the Free Dictionary, networks are defined as ‘extended groups of people with similar interests or concerns who interact and remain in informal contact for mutual assistance or support.’ Networks can be anything from a formally constituted body that meets monthly to a one off networking event. There is real appetite for active, value-adding regional and sub-regional networks and networking opportunities that enable new relationships and partnerships to be forged, practice to be shared and challenged, advice and support to be accessed and learning to be disseminated. These networks are also vehicles for driving up quality and excellence and minimising duplication of activity. Our main purpose in supporting networks will be to develop a connected and coherent cultural ecology across the North West that directly benefits children and young people.

Our first priority will be to map existing forums and their rationale and communicate clearly with existing network coordinators to be sure we don’t duplicate a well established offer that is relevant and fit for purpose. We want to develop a cross regional networked response and support the current infrastructure by drawing on existing networks, communication mechanisms and delivery partnerships. From here we will look at how local partnerships and networks could be improved and how new partnerships can be created to connect young people, schools & communities with arts and culture. Having identified what is working well and where the gaps are we will also make connections with other structures and networks. For example, if there is a sub- regional local authority led forum with a focus on children and young people, we may seek to propose a sub group with a specific focus on arts and culture for children and young people.

Networks and Networking

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Sub regional and pan regional networks Sub regional networks are most useful for providing opportunities to link current projects and activities and coordinate and cohere local organisations’ offer. As one representative put it, ‘it’s an opportunity to get the house in order’ before inviting the wider world in. There are interesting models to explore where local networks of schools, support agencies, museums, galleries, libraries, arts organisations and the local authority come together within a particular locality to coordinate and share responsibility for promoting a local offer with one clear voice. Pan regional networks are most useful for bringing in a regional dimension and harnessing different perspectives and experiences. They provide opportunities for meaningful debate around current themes of importance and opportunities for sharing good practice within the region, nationally and internationally. These do not have to be formal networks with traditional Terms of Reference; instead they can be a series of open seminars, each with a clear purpose and focus. While face to face networking is still seen as important by many, technology should be used to good effect to enable more people to connect digitally through video and podcasts so that current debates within the sector are captured and can be shared more widely.

Where it will be useful, thematic working groups can be established with a commitment to take something specific forward for an agreed length of time. There is no need for the Bridge to necessarily lead these groups, they could be led by a range of organisations from across the region but there is a role for the Bridge to play in cohering and bringing such groups together. We hope to seek out examples of best practice from both the near and distant past and disseminate this learning as widely as possible. We want to ensure maximum return on investment from the resources already invested in the regional arts and cultural offer for children and young people. Some felt that while case studies are useful we need to focus on ‘making it work on our patch in our own context and celebrate this for ourselves.’ Essentially, case studies should be designed to inspire rather than encourage replication. We want to ensure all networks are as open access and inclusive as possible. Individuals and organisations should be able to come and go fluidly within and across these networks. Our focus will be on working to develop a cultural ecology of equality where as many voices as possible can be heard, including those of children and young people. Most importantly there should be an ongoing honest assessment of the benefit these networks or groups are bringing to children and young people.

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The Culture & Achievement North West forum described how creating a platform for discussion and information exchange had led to increased responsibility of and ownership from membership to drive the network, shifting the relationship with Curious Minds from leader to facilitator. Some in the North West feel there is plenty to connect with professionally already, others are asking for networks to reduce isolation, to provide independent advice on better signposting around young people and to be a critical friend. They would like motivational meetings and exciting seminars and a dialogue around quality. A few organisations did express frustration that they spend a large amount of time networking and trying to generate attention and interest but are never approached.

Cross sectoral networks There is a need to make room for both sectoral and cross sectoral conversation. Cross sectoral networks are less common and there is much interest from the cultural sector in networking with non arts based voluntary sector providers in areas such as health and social care and with successors to SureStart. There are also clear opportunities to support the third sector in developing their offer through intelligent networking. Networks as business development support for smaller organisations One larger network spoke of how it could support business development for smaller arts organisations by brokering direct relationships with schools and head teacher forums; this would allow the smaller organisations to concentrate resources on delivery rather than generating and nurturing contacts. This is something to explore. However, we also hear that when networks are driven by larger institutions this can sometimes lead to certain approaches and outcomes which may not ultimately be a reflection of need from the young person’s perspective.

Networks and Networking

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What do individuals want from a network and networking? Ideas from the Culture & Achievement North West forum An approach – A joined up and more coordinated offer for children and young people, in this context around progression routes. – Collective leadership and advocacy for arts, culture and creativity in the new landscape. – Constructive challenge. – A regional approach – ‘looking over the parapet’. – Inspiration. Information & knowledge – Opportunities to link current projects and activities and minimise risk of duplication in the same area. – Exchange ideas for best practice & co-production, such as discovering what other organisations are doing to develop young audiences in terms of progression. – Learning from case studies. – Exchange & dissemination of practice, policy and strategic developments – an opportunity to keep up to date with new developments in the sector and share ideas for how we respond to them. Networks can offer a summary and contextualise changes within the region or a particular sector. – Forum for gathering evidence of need on a wide scale and being able to position an individual offer against the wider sector to address gaps. – Use networks to ensure the learning from Find Your Talent is embedded within the sector. People – Focus on children and young people rather than institutions, politics or jobs. – Networking for potential collaborations. – Meeting others with different levels and breadth of experience. – An opportunity to put faces to names and connect with like minded colleagues. Reflection – Space away from the day job, space for thoughtful reflection and sharing.

Networks and Networking

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Key Bridge priorities for year one – Review rationale of current networks and networking opportunities and check for duplication. – Offer clarity around purpose of distinctive local, sub regional and regional networks. – Offer clarity for stakeholders and participants and develop stronger brands for continuing networks, ensuring each brand understands the remit of the others. – Promote relevant networks and look at establishing new forums or hosting events where necessary. – Provide access to other sectors and other children and young people’s networks. – Support the promotion and celebration of information, ideas and good practice. – Involve young people meaningfully in network events. – Facilitate opportunities for international working and exchange. – Host an annual public facing event to share and disseminate developments, practice and learning across the North West region. This will sit alongside a series of sub regional events celebrating the achievements of each sub region and providing opportunities for more focused networking.

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Information and Communication

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Cohering and simplifying The creative and cultural landscape is characterised by complexity, a lack of coordination and unnecessary duplication. There is clearly a real need to streamline and simplify the mechanisms that facilitate children and young people’s participation in arts and culture. A significant part of the Bridge role will be to develop a more joined up approach which will identify gaps in delivery and minimise duplication. The challenge Young people are asking for more information about arts and cultural opportunities, schools are asking for easy ways to access information in one place about what is available in their area and arts and cultural organisations are keen to increase the reach and visibility of their offer to schools and young people.

They all agreed the internet would be their preferred method of accessing information about art and culture. A young person from Merseyside said;

It would be good to have one place to look to find out what we can do, not to have to look on all these different web sites.
YouTube was a big influence for many young people in exploring potential art and cultural experiences. Many of the young people had turned to YouTube for ideas and tasters of what they could take part in. Another young person in Lancashire said;

Children and young people from all areas, both urban and rural, described the difficulty of ‘not knowing what is available.’ Arts and culture should be advertised more, ‘at schools, on the internet sites that young people go to, on buses.
Young people in Merseyside said:

There could be loads of good stuff on, but if we don’t know about it, it’s not worth anything’ and ‘The best way to let us know about things is online, through Facebook and sites like that.

With some things you have to search and search on the internet, go through links and web pages and loads of different things to find a website just to go to a gymnastic club or something... if they handed leaflets out and then you could just use a web address or something... well you’re straight there, it’s so much easier to find. And you feel more... well it kind of appeals because you haven’t tired yourself out like trying to find it.’

Information and Communication

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Below we lay out some of our initial ideas for sharing information about the cultural offer across the North West region. Providing information on key venues and providers In essence this would offer a brokering service for schools, teachers, parents and young people to enable them to more easily gain access to wide range of services offered by organisations in their area, detailing what is available in each local area and bringing together in school and out of school activities. It is likely to include information around programmes and events appropriate for children and young people at arts organisations, theatres, museums, galleries, historical houses, libraries and rural touring venues. It would also promote arts events, festivals and large scale events in the region along with providers of regular week in week out arts and cultural activities or groups situated in local areas. Ideally information should be searchable by art form, distance from a particular postcode, age group appropriateness. It will act as a first point of contact for the North West in relation to the arts, culture and young people.

This may involve working with partners to share responsibility for publishing information on their services through a single online portal. However, the feasibility of the Bridge being able to promote up-to-date information on the cultural offer was raised by a large cultural organisation that offers 200 free-to-book workshops to schools with a designated call centre managing demand. Instead of attempting to upload a fully up to date programme of every activity taking place across the North West online ourselves it was suggested we should be supporting organisations through effective signposting and promotion, such as providing a brief example of the offer upon our portal and linking through to that organisations website or contact details. This way we would develop a network of quality information and advice and be a centre point for information sources from other organisations, linking, signposting and directing rather than aiming to catalogue everything. This level of information will not only provide an invaluable resource for children, families and schools but arts and cultural providers will be able to use the information themselves to build a more thorough overview of the activities available, a first step towards supporting and encouraging greater coordination between providers to ensure a more effective offer.

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Signposting young people and families to opportunities If school websites were to link through to the portal described above this could encourage young people, parents and teachers to access information more readily. Parents, particularly of young children are the key gatekeepers to the cultural offer and don’t themselves know where to look to find out what’s available. We have to work hard to make the information as readily available as possible. Similarly, if arts organisations engaging young people were to direct them towards the portal, young people could look for ‘more like this...’ There is also a need for online resources offering information and guidance to young people on funding, courses, accreditation options and career routes within the arts, cultural and creative industries along with information on initiatives such as somewhere_to. If the portal is useful and speaks in the language of young people it will be used, accessed and will grow in influence. School, young people and Arts Award advisers are also asking for relevant resources such as ‘Get into live music’, ‘Get into theatre’ and Creative Choices to be signposted.

Quality assurance This is a key question to address. If service users access the provision and have a poor quality experience then trust in the portal will begin to erode. We will begin by featuring organisations funded by Arts Council England as NPO’s, Major Partner Museums or through Grants for the Arts, along with museums and heritage organisations funded directly by the DCMS. We will also consider including programmes and organisations which are receiving strong peer reviews from young people, schools and the public alike. One 15 year old boy in Merseyside told us he wanted to do break dancing but feels he has not found a group he would want to go to yet. He cares a lot about the quality of the provision and puts a lot of importance on seeing ‘good reviews’ before he tries anything new. This was echoed by young people from some of the other areas. ‘I’d rather not waste my money on something I don’t like,’ said a 15-yearold boy about one potential dance group.

Information and Communication

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E-bulletins We will promote available provision through fortnightly / monthly e-newsletter linking to the best of what’s on and showcasing different arts organisations and practitioners. We will aim to raise awareness and profile of the great work that is taking place and the opportunities young people, schools, families and other arts and cultural organisations can access and learn from. We will inform all providers of print deadlines for press releases and opportunities for their work to be profiled. A main feature shall be a guest blog where arts and cultural organisations, school leaders, young people and community organisations can discuss their work and the current landscape that exists in the North West and beyond.

We know that Arts Award advisers and other freelance practitioners working with children and young people would also appreciate regular updates via e-bulletins. A number of Arts Award Advisers say they currently use tourism or local What’s On websites to try and keep abreast of local performances, exhibitions and events. They would appreciate a joined up resource that would help them plan arts and cultural visits for young people conducting their Arts Award qualification.

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Setting up a regional database of quality assured artists and freelancers One teacher said to us;

It would be brilliant if there was a national database. You need something like a Michelin Star process.
Another school suggested that something akin to an online arts notice board would help schools access the breadth of the cultural offer. Although there was concern about duplicating existing models such as Artists In Schools and ‘theartsroom’ database in Greater Manchester which are well used and trusted, we feel there is a role for the Bridge in establishing a resource for schools and working hard to promote it too. Our resource will link to trusted practitioner networks online and offer our portal as a cross signposting and referral point to what already exists. Rather than duplicating networks and databases we will bring them all together in one portal. Our job is to ensure that schools can visit one portal and be signposted to everything available in their area in just a few clicks.

We will expect certain minimum standards of the directories we signpost to. For example, we would expect each provider to describe what they can offer in specific terms and plain language, be Enhanced CRB certificated, have an adequate level of public liability insurance and come with reviews and recommendations from other schools. One cultural provider challenged; “There are so many ‘one-stop shops’ already. Why are teachers not using these? What do we know about these? How can the Bridge offer be different?” This is something we need to explore through further teacher consultations. All too often teachers just don’t know about these websites. They need to be reminded about them many times before it become a natural part of their digital routine. E-bulletins can help here, acting as a regular prompt and encouraging teachers to access specific websites.

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Digital Developments This is a real opportunity to make best use of the exciting developments in new technology and work directly with young people, schools and families to make sure our offer is fit for purpose. Young people have suggested they would like to be able to shape and contribute to digital developments through an online rating facility wherein providers can be reviewed by young people and their families. This online ‘rate your provider’ facility would be similar to eBay’s feedback rating system but in this instance they would visit cultural institutions, attend events and rate the provision available. This information could be used by providers to improve their offer.

There is also the concept of ‘Timebanking’ to explore; a means of exchange where time is the principal currency. In this context young people could receive free tickets in exchange for providing constructive reviews or attending focus groups. Providers can use the young people’s time to help them develop their offer and in return young people have free access to provision, hopefully growing the cultural consumers of the future along the way. We want to work with young people and key digital organisations in the region to make sure any portals we develop are accessible and built to fit for young people. We cannot build something without that consultation and expect young people to use it. As somebody said during our consultations; “we need to fish where the fishes are.” In other words, we need to provide a tool that sits within the digital spheres that young people actually use to interact within themselves. If young people are influenced primarily through social networking and peer referral and are unlikely to visit a new ‘website for young people’ then we need to take this into account.

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Promoting provision outside the digital sphere When connecting to the cultural offer, families, particularly parents, still access much of what is available through local papers, mail shots and local radio and television promotion. Many young people described how much parents, both their own and their friends’ parents, impacted on their exposure and attitudes towards art and culture. The young people said that they would like help understanding what they could gain from taking part in more art and culture. They would also like information of what, where and how much along with the benefit of what is on offer to be better promoted to their parents to encourage more positive attitudes.

Key Bridge priorities for year one – The Bridge to act as a coordinating body that provides coherence to the creative and cultural offer by positioning ourselves as a first point of contact for young people, schools and families. – The Bridge to keep people abreast of flagship projects and programmes as they emerge. Current examples include the Cultural Olympiad, Preston Guild, and the Gang Crime Agenda. – Fortnightly e-bulletins for providers offering summaries of key news stories, policy developments, initiative updates and a roundup of what’s on will be a key part of our offer. – Information sharing should be internal and external within the arts and cultural sector. – Signpost rather than build new databases where possible – support rather than duplicate. – Involve young people who have grown up using the internet to help us work out how to position our digital offer.

Information and Communication

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Key priority areas from the young person’s consultation report around information and advocacy – Embedding art and cultural experiences into the everyday contexts that young people find themselves in, so they can have more impact on and relevance to their lives. – Being inspired by young people’s everyday lives and interests when designing art and culture: for example the world of MMO computer games, the Mighty Boosh, Harry Potter, school, other teenagers and their specific local area. – Better and clearer marketing and promotion of services through the Internet, which seems to be a young person’s preferred mode of receiving information. – Using YouTube, Google and Facebook to promote art and culture, and developing facilities for online reviews to help young people decide what to take part in. – Better and wider marketing and promotion of services and the benefits of art and culture to parents and carers on buses, radio, TV; days to share information about jobs in art and culture.

– Enabling children and young people to share information about art and culture with each other, rather than only receiving it from adults. How could schools play a role in helping children share information about art and culture with pupils from other schools, to widen their awareness of what is on offer? – How we communicate with young people: is it important to ask them to separate what they think from what they feel when they experience art and culture? Is it right to ask young people to deconstruct their experiences, rather than just allowing them to ‘soak them up’? – Exploring methods for measuring, tracking and keeping an up-to-date understanding of young people’s feelings as they engage with art and culture, prioritising their needs rather than the needs of adults and organizations.

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Engaging Young People

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All children and young people have the right to receive the highest quality arts and cultural education both in and out of schools, in formal and informal settings. Our primary purpose as a Bridge is to enable more young people to see and experience great work that enriches their lives, and increase access to experiences they would otherwise not have had. Our role is to increase access and parity and ensure young people can access cultural experiences regardless of geography or financial circumstances. Participation in creative and cultural experiences is for many young people a key factor in ‘turning the corner’ in difficult circumstances. Participation builds skills, resilience, emotional well being, friendship networks and social capital; all essential components of a successful life.

There are economical, logistical and psychological barriers to engagement. Despite much fantastic work taking place across the region there are still many young people and their families who do not feel the arts or culture are for them. There is real concern that in the current environment the most disconnected and disengaged will become even more so. The inclusion agenda is more relevant than ever, yet outreach of this sort takes intensive and patient effort and this is vulnerable in an era when arts and cultural institutions are struggling with funding cuts and stretched capacity. In the last ten years there has been a vast increase in the supply of cultural opportunities for children and young people but evidence suggests this has not changed the proportion of children and young people engaging; the same young people are simply engaging in more activities. There are huge inequities in cultural participation and this serves to reinforce broader social inequities. If choosing not to engage is a positive choice this is fine but we must be comfortable this does not stem from difficulty of access or lack of awareness of the possibilities.

Engaging Young People

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Children and young people now are living and learning in a period of economic instability and social change. Young people tell us they are worried about poverty and unemployment and have little faith in politics and related structures. The ‘recession’, or the notion of the recession, has an impact on young people’s perception of what is available to them. There are real fears that only the most tenacious children and young people will be able to engage, access and progress through a range of cultural opportunities. However evidence suggests that the biggest obstacle to young people engaging with art and culture, particularly those with emotional and behavioural difficulties or mental health problems, is lack of self confidence or lack of awareness and appropriate support.

Perceptions Young people’s perceptions of art and culture are as diverse as our own. The terms ‘arts’ and ‘culture’ are seen as elitist by many. The language of aspiration and improved outcomes is not the language young people use. Perhaps we need to start by developing with young people a shared understanding of what is meant by arts and culture and challenge our own received ideas about these terms. The most common ways young people described their engagement with culture on a regular basis were through dance, particularly street, ballet and tap, going to the cinema and individual music tuition. For others, it involved watching television and sport. The cinema has massive cultural importance for many young people. The cinema is often the first venue a young person will visit ‘under their own steam’. One young person said there should be more small local cinemas and they could be hubs for young people to engage with other art and cultural forms. This may be particularly pertinent in rural areas.

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Ensuring relevance There is a real shift taking place across the cultural sphere from the idea of the audience as the consumer of culture. It’s now much more about ‘the art of with, rather than to or for’ and in this context we can see young people are interested in participating in and collaborating with others to make culture. The digital age is enabling consumers to access and manipulate products in different ways. Music, films, newspaper, broadcasting, playlists, peer reviews, comparison websites and social networking sites are personalized to our needs and encourage us to offer feedback as we go. The arts and cultural world need to embrace these ways of thinking more readily, both in terms of their digital offer and more widely in terms of the ways in which they seek to engage audiences face to face. Young people sometimes say they can’t see their own lives or views represented in the provision they are offered. Stories are not always told in a meaningful relevant way, there is often a perception that ‘it’s not for us.’

Young people can find it difficult to understand what is really on offer, even a taster or ‘inspirer session’ does not always get this across. Our role is to ‘offer opportunities for people to find their thing’ but we also need to think more deeply about what really motivates young people to get involved and the benefits as they see them of getting involved. The word ‘boring’ came up a lot in our discussions with young people. ‘I don’t do it, because it’s boring’, ‘I stopped doing it, because it’s boring’ and ‘I wouldn’t go there, because it is boring’. However, young people also expressed a strong desire to get more involved in art and culture in their local areas. They discussed the idea of taking responsibility for making sure art and culture didn’t become ‘boring’. They understood that it was a two way relationship between the provider and themselves and understood the need for patience in the process of creating something new. A young Merseyside man said he became very bored and frustrated when filming a scene over and over again to create a film, but he understood that he needed to do this to achieve his goal. There are also specific issues around the low expectations or aspirations of young people amongst parents and teachers, coupled with a lack of ambition and understanding of what’s possible in many cases.

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Accessibility Many young people said they don’t know what’s available other than at school. Others said they don’t like going to a place they don’t know or feel unsafe going into a community they don’t know or trust. Young people in Oldham said they were nervous of going into Manchester as it was ‘unfamiliar’ and they encountered ‘aggressive behaviour’. It emerged that this was fear that people were not going to be like them, that diversity would not be welcomed and that there would be racism or discrimination. Young people in Hulme shared the ‘fear of not fitting in and feeling uncomfortable’ and described worries about bullying and ‘appearance issues, struggling with self-esteem.’ A young Kurdish man from Merseyside said the biggest barrier to him accessing art and culture was the fear, ‘what if I fail?’ The fear of failure and embarrassment was echoed by young people from all sub-regions and lack of confidence was a recurring issue. Young people don’t always understand how to behave or what to do in certain environments if they haven’t been exposed to these experiences from a young age. They are afraid of being told off and have often inherited an anxiety or ‘don’t touch’ mentality from their parents.

Provision is often not available when young people are free to access it; for example, one music service acknowledged there was no provision at all in the evenings or at weekends. Another music service does have after school provision but young Muslims are unable to access it because they have to go to mosque straight after school. One young person said more activities should be available on Friday and Saturday nights when young people are most in need of something to do and most at risk. Some young people living in rural Cumbria said there were never enough other young people interested in what they wanted to do and so it wasn’t offered. Many young people said the pressure of homework gave them little time for art and culture. Time is a particular issue for young carers and Muslim children who attend mosque and for children working weekends or evenings, on their parents farm for example. Young people in Oldham said that parental permission was a barrier and that organisations needed to build a stronger relationship with their parents so there was a level of trust.

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What are arts organisations main ways of engaging with children and young people outside of the school environment? – Through youth groups and youth service – Focused marketing campaigns and advertising – Peer referral through existing youth groups – Outreach programmes – Family oriented days and activities – Social networking including Facebook & Twitter – Through health and social care settings and their programmes – PRUs

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Money and geography We need to work collectively to do what we can in the current climate to make art and culture affordable or free to young people; one young person suggested some kind of pass that could not be forged or copied that would allow them to access art and culture for free or at a reduced price. Although many art and cultural venues are free of charge, travel costs in particular can make visits difficult or impossible for young people, especially those from disadvantaged families in rural parts of Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire or living in urban areas far from the cultural hubs of city centres. Many young people told us there should be more cheap public transport. Others described the availability of transport as an issue, both in rural and urban areas, particularly if they don’t feel safe travelling at night or if the bus times are irregular or the journeys are too long. Pendle has found a way around lack of buses and trains by staging events on a Saturday afternoon so they finish around 4pm before public transport finishes. Even in the city there are real barriers around mobility; for example, getting across Manchester and the associated costs of this. Young people from rural Cheshire felt they lived a long way from any art or cultural venues of interest. Because of this distance, money and lack of time was a substantial contributing factor in young people not visiting as many

venues as they would like to. Some young people are very aware that where they live limits their art and cultural opportunities. Young people from Burnley said they have visited and accessed art and culture in big cities and know what they are missing;

Burnley’s limited to certain things, whereas Manchester’s like whoa! And I haven’t even visited the whole of Manchester.
Other young people are not aware of what they are missing, particularly children living in quite isolated, rural areas. For young people in Cumbria, transport and distance from large cultural hubs is a huge barrier to their engagement with art and culture, although this in itself is not necessarily making them unhappy as most are unaware of what they are missing. Many young people said ticket costs were a major barrier, particularly if their siblings want to go or join a group too. Some arts organisations offer free tickets to young people and also fundraise to cover the costs of young people’s travel to events. The costs involved can be small but make a significant difference to the young person. On the other hand some youth theatres have had to introduce a charge to young people to keep them going and this is having an impact on attendance with low income families.

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Specific issues facing rural areas – Finance, access and transport are major issues in rural areas. – Poor transport links to towns and communities.  A struggle to take activities out into rural areas.  – Due to lack of funding work is often based in central locations, therefore not reaching the more rural communities. People are expected to come to town centres to access provision.   – Rural communities are audiences that arts organisations wish to re-engage with. Currently they don’t feel in touch with the rural community. – A perception that rural areas often lack ‘quality’ work or resources. – Young people who will become future creative leaders tend to migrate away from the region once they become adults.

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Space Lack of access to venues for activity in local communities is a big problem; schools will not always engage or cannot afford to. One BSF school acknowledged that their state of the art facilities were rarely used because ‘it’s not done in house any more, you have to liaise and book the space and it’s very time consuming.’ Community venues can also be problematic; ‘they are managed by community associations who are often perceived to have a negative view of young people.’ Organisations could take more work into settings where children and young people already spend time and are comfortable, such as youth clubs, shopping centres, football grounds. People felt libraries and museums could open their doors more freely and more generally that programmes of activities could be more coordinated to run across voluntary, community, education, cultural and public spaces. Social clubs, youth clubs and disused shops are all non traditional spaces that could be used more for activities and performances. Some local authorities are actively continuing the practice of converting disused retail spaces into cultural spaces. Outdoor events were seen as a good alternative; here ‘people can attend on their own terms rather than a theatre’s terms.’

somewhereto_ is an excellent example of a programme working to match make young people with underused, disused and empty spaces and get people thinking more creatively about their communities. One local authority expressed frustration that so many of their own buildings are closed at weekends. For example, Saturday mornings are often a good time to engage young Muslims who are at mosque in the week after school but they can’t find a space. They say parents will bring their children if there is somewhere they can have a coffee nearby or the sessions are long enough for them to go home and come back later to pick their children up. Young people in Cheshire said there was no venue in Chester city and very few creative facilities across the county. There are plans to establish a new cultural venue in Chester by 2015 and build an associated youth theatre community around it before then. Other areas lacking venues are working to attract capital investment to put something sustainable in place.

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Some theatres are starting to host more touring productions for children and young people which could see them becoming more of a hub for arts and culture within their communities. Some have floated the possibility of cultural venues entrepreneurially stepping into the gap left by the closure of Sure Start centres. It was suggested we could focus on encouraging place based activity across sub regions to link more explicitly with provision in large city based organisations; in essence we should take the cities out to isolated areas.

Co-construction Young people want to be respected as curators, critical consumers and creators of cultural learning, they want to input into the services and structures surrounding them and they want opportunities to lead and advocate for what they want. There are excellent examples of programmes being delivered with, for and by young people and their communities. The best quality arts and cultural services proactively involve young people as co-constructors of the experience, engaging them in design, delivery and evaluation and thus ensuring that what is offered is relevant and valued. If young people play a bigger role in shaping programmes for them then it follows they will be more tailored to the needs of children and young people. We also know that attendance at events is greatest when they have been planned by young people themselves. Children and young people should continually be encouraged to be decision makers and producers of culture in their own right and to understand the value of this so they can play a role in advocating and campaigning for this approach more widely. We have to build demand from children and young people for high quality opportunities otherwise it will always be about us doing work for young people rather than with young people. Young people can

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help providers understand what availability, inclusivity and relevance means to them so that programmes really can be personalised to the demands of young people and their needs, aspirations and ideas. Young people should be able to expect and demand no less. Young people feel their work is not always respected; ‘young artists’ engaged with one cultural organisation in Manchester spoke eloquently about not being seen as artists in their own right; they felt that the term ‘young’ designated them as an outreach outcome rather than as an artist on a par with any other and this felt to them like a devaluing of their work. Ultimately we want to make sure that young people’s voice is brought into every debate to give it credibility and authenticity. Young people really want ‘a relationship’ with an organisation, not a series of one off interventions. One suggestion was that the Bridge retain a small `risk fund’ to get trusted organisations to carry out utterly collaborative `risky’ projects with young people to explore models of genuine co-construction in action.

Organisations also spoke about ensuring mechanisms are set up to systematically listen to young people through focus groups and creative consultation events and to use existing young people groups such as Youth Parliament. Cultural organisations reminded us that the arts are an excellent vehicle for engaging around all sorts of issues. Agencies such as the NHS, Youth Services, Fostering Agencies, Social Services, and the Police are often seeking young people’s opinions. There could be a role for the Bridge in matchmaking between these services and arts organisations who successfully elicit the opinions of young people, but are struggling to bring them to those who can actually make the decisions which will improve their lives. There are ways in which the work could be woven together to ensure that young people have a genuine platform and a reason to create.

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Digital technology The constantly evolving digital landscape offers significant opportunities for children and young people to access culture in new and exciting ways and to communicate with their peers informally through a range of platforms. Although not available to everyone, many young people do have access to high speed broadband and smart phones. Sometimes it seems that young people use technology to access art and culture because it’s the cheapest, easiest and most accessible thing to do. Or if they are nervous, shy or have had negative social experiences, it saves them from the risk of having to mix with other people socially: ‘...that’s what you do – in your free time you go on face book!’ ‘And I listen to music on You Tube.’ ‘I don’t do very much. I got bullied so now I just do it on Just Dance.’ The cultural sector as a whole is at risk of alienating themselves from younger generations by not keeping up with digital advances. Cultural providers should work more closely with the young people who have these communication tools at their fingertips to help them understand how these can be deployed to best effect to disseminate information about opportunities and events.

Digital technology also makes it easier for young people to make a direct contribution to culture – they can engage with, create and critique events, activities and products. People talk about everything and anything online; ‘let’s get young people talking about culture more.’ Although technology opens up many opportunities, some young people feel it can close off the opportunity to be part of a real community: ‘…it’s like culture changes with the time. Like before, when they didn’t have computers it was like a closer community but now that you’ve got all the technology it’s kind of changed the culture completely.’ Some rural schools say that digital technologies are sometimes seen as a substitute for face to face cultural interaction with their young people. They were worried that digital advances could be used as an excuse not to bring provision out to rural areas and they wanted to make the point that a lot of young people don’t have access to the internet.

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Profiling young people’s work Young people and children are immersed in a world full of high quality media, advertising, film, fashion, design, music and performances. They want to show what they have achieved and offer something to the world of their own. Technology can offer a great platform for children and young people to profile their artistic work. Online cultural portfolios offer a safe space in which children can document and exhibit their work, curate the work of others and solicit comment from their peers. It can also help ensure access to great arts and culture for young people in rural communities who would otherwise remain disconnected from the offer. In addition to virtual platforms we need to find more physical platforms for young people to perform, exhibit and celebrate their art, particularly the harder to reach or those living in rural areas. Young people want opportunities to be seen and to feel like professional artists; they want to perform in a professional venue or exhibit alongside other local professional artists. Much of this work happens in small pockets and we need to find ways to ensure young people have opportunities to perform in prestigious places too.

Engaging the ‘middle ground’ Many described the challenges associated with engaging the ‘middle ground teenagers’, those who would not currently be classed as hard to reach but who are possibly at a ‘turning point’. Typically they are feeling disenchanted with school and are interested in participation but don’t have any specific support or encouragement because they are neither ‘gifted and talented’ or ‘offending’. It was felt that the cuts in youth services have made it harder for these young people to access provision and they could be easily swayed in either direction. Concern was expressed that this cohort of young people are experiencing a lack of attention and are the hardest to get funding to work with. It was suggested that the arts and cultural sector might learn from the models being used by the sports sector. SportsLeader Awards and the Sports Community Leadership scheme offer models that enable young people to train as leaders, gain qualifications and respective employment, which also encourages other young people to participate.

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Targeted provision We plan to direct targeted and intensive partnership investment towards strategic work focusing on groups of young people in particular danger of remaining disengaged. In addition to children and young people from low income families. These groups include disabled children and young people, children and young people from black and minority ethnic communities, looked after children, young carers, young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and young people within the criminal justice system. We recognise there are specific challenges in accessing cultural education for these young people and others outside mainstream education and training. There are arts and cultural organisations and agencies within the North West who have national expertise in working with each of these groups. We will work with these organisations to develop improved coordination of services and closer collaborative working.

Supporting young people with additional needs Cultural organisations should continue working together to share ideas for developing a positive, welcoming and inclusive environment with clear policies about how to tackle racism and other forms of prejudice. We should look at supporting arts and cultural providers, many of whom are volunteers or low-paid workers, to develop more inclusive policies and provide staff training about how to accommodate young people with additional needs. For example we spoke to some young people with additional needs who have all had negative experiences of youth provision. They receive a high level of support in the school environment but if they were to join a local drama group they would be unlikely to receive additional support and class sizes would be four or five times bigger than that at school. It is important to provide support that does not alienate the young person or dictate to service providers.

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Many organisations don’t have the resources for ensuring their programmes are accessible. An organisation can’t advertise something as accessible if they can’t provide sign language and signers cost £30 an hour in addition to travel time. With tight budgets access is available for ‘most’ performances and activities but not all. As one director put it; “in my opinion, that’s not good enough.” The Bridge could play a role in supporting organisations to offer access such as Braille and signing, perhaps even having a pool of people that the sector could dip into so that access is always available. Many creative and cultural organisations would benefit from developing a deeper understanding of how to engage young people with additional needs. One organisation specialising in disability awareness spoke of the low aspirations and expectations that parents of disabled children can have.

Bridge priorities – An ongoing programme of research through focus group discussions with young people on their needs and interests to support more effective outreach and audience development. – Work with schools, arts and cultural organisations and local authorities to open up opportunities for children and young people to influence programmes, policy, strategy and operational practice in a meaningful way. – To model this ourselves through exploring meaningful ways for young people to engage with Curious Minds over a sustained period. Plans are in place to recruit a team of young Creative Associates. – Organise events offering exchange between organisations in the cultural and third sectors and connect with networks. – Provide opportunities for arts organisations to share models for engaging the hardest to reach young people. – Explore ways to track the impact of young people’s engagement in arts and culture.

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Engaging Families

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We know that engaging parents and families is one of the most important factors in engaging children and young people and we believe that arts and culture make a significant contribution to strengthening family capital, raising aspirations and breaking cycles of deprivation. For many, the support of their parents equates very simply to the difference between participating and not participating. Parents and carers perceptions, their own engagement in and support of arts and culture were seen to be a significant predictor of the likelihood of a child’s participation. Parents and grandparents who have no prior experience of engagement with arts and culture are not in a position to demand or guide opportunities for their children. Parents also affect how a child participates - one example was given of an aspiring young musician having to exchange her trombone for a cornet as the latter would ‘clutter up the house less.’

The ‘significant relationships’ in children’s and young people’s lives have a big impact on their engagement. One young person in Merseyside described the happy memories of her dad teaching her a couple of Beatles songs on guitar which led to her learning to play the electric guitar. Another young woman in Manchester described how her Mum had helped her set up her own radio show and get funding to write her own play. Young people also told us how significant their friends’ parents were in enabling them to experience new arts and cultural experiences. Independently, children from all backgrounds cited various interactions with arts and culture in the context of the privacy of their own bedrooms. Many play instruments, draw, listen to music and watch films. Young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds were less likely to cite creative experiences in relation to encounters with high art or cultural institutions, but still recognised a lot of their self-directed activity as being cultural.

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Economic barriers One of the most frequently cited barriers was economic. This is seen to be worsening as family budgets get tighter. It was pointed out that for some, £3.50 spent on a music club would have to be weighed up against the cost of a dinner or breakfast club for their children. A young person from a relatively affluent family describes the problem of money;

This person is lucky to have parents who can afford to pay for some art and cultural activities and values the activity enough to find the money somehow; this highlights how difficult it must be for children and young people from low income families or with parents who have never engaged with or valued art and culture themselves. A museum representative said they found it easy to motivate children to attend activities and shows but ‘it’s parents that actually decide’. Even free activities involve the cost of transport and refreshments. One organisation said that even free activities are mostly attended by children from middle-class families whose parents can and will drive them to and from sessions. One local authority representative suggested that making activities free can sometimes be

I didn’t want to stop dance classes but I had to discuss it with my parents and I said, if it’s costing too much I can lose a couple of them and they said no, we’ll find a way to do it so... But it does still come into your mind when you think about it, not obviously when you’re dancing but when you look at how much it’s costing you with shoes and leotards and skirts and costumes and things like that. Then you really think, well this is mounting up to hundreds and hundreds of pounds.

A double bind: if sessions are free they’re not valued and people don’t turn up; if they are charged for, people can’t afford it and don’t come.

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Perceptions and influences Some of the barriers described were largely perceptual. Parents who see themselves as having little engagement in ‘the arts’ may consider ‘it’s not for them’, which reduces their likelihood of being supportive and can influence their children’s attitudes too. Organisations felt some parents might want to engage but lack confidence in taking their children to new places, fearing they might not be welcomed. An example was given of parents being concerned about young children being noisy in a gallery. Others might have historical associations of buildings or areas; an example was given of Salford Quays still being seen as ‘a working area for men, not a place for families or for leisure.’ Other parents wish to protect their children from possible negative influences; for example, Muslim families may not allow children to participate unless they are confident the activity is appropriate and respectful of their beliefs. According to teachers at the SEN focus group, parents of disabled children sometimes have low aspirations and expectations of their children, which may prevent them from participating.

Engaging more families Some suggested that low income families and those from rural areas should be offered support towards travel expenses to help them visit venues that are of interest to their children. In Canada this has been addressed with incentives such as tax credits for those engaging in arts activities. It was noted that cultural venues offer competitive prices when compared to typical leisure offers such as the cinema and bowling which families might be more likely to engage in. It was felt that this could be a route to growing family audiences through better marketing campaigns. Many said that high quality provision has great power to retain participants once they have persuaded people to walk through the door. Familiarity is a useful hook; for example, one organisation used the familiarity of Red Riding Hood as a key to get audiences in, but the piece was still challenging and unusual, and able to broaden the horizons of the audience. It was felt that arts organisations should offer more ‘family friendly’ events which are specifically designed to welcome all members of a family. Joint family activities which offer quality experiences can contribute enormously to building family capital and the Family Learning Agenda. Schools could also extend their cultural visits to invite the families of their pupils. Intergenerational work involving Grandparents was seen to be an area warranting further exploration as grandparents often care for their grandchildren during the day.

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Engaging the hardest to reach There is widespread agreement that targeting provision at low income families and children and those unable to access arts and culture independently should be a shared priority for the sector. Many feel that, despite much funding being targeted at engaging the hardest to reach, provision is simply not getting to the core. Some organisations acknowledged that when resources were inadequate or timescales short they will involve the ‘usual suspects’ to ensure the success of a project. Genuine engagement of the hardest to reach is very difficult. Increasing supply of the current cultural offer could simply mean the same people access more so it’s recognised that we need to think differently to do this successfully. However, a targeted offer must also be careful not to stigmatise those that participate. The ultimate aim must be for all people to feel welcome and able to access all provision, not just that which is specifically ‘for them’. There are invisible boundaries that exist which organisations may not perceive but communities do. The hardest to reach communities form very tight-knit groups. This can prevent

communities crossing geographical boundaries and organisations often find it very difficult to take their work out to these peer groups and break down the preconceptions that exist in some of these communities. Some innovative organisations hold locality specific tasters before starting a more central programme. Starting with community interests can be useful; for example an unusual approach to engaging with the museum sector was through football for young men. This kind of outreach work is heavy on resources when compared with the amount of people it engages. Others felt that whilst barriers often exist initially, once relationships have been formed with communities they break down quickly. It is then essential to ensure there is ongoing provision which is continuous and progressive and which is difficult for any single organisation to sustain. Some felt it would be useful for the Bridge to broker partnerships with more organisations with established working relationships with the hardest to reach groups, such as the Probation Service.

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Outreach and Engagement

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Arts and cultural organisations can successfully engage young people where schools struggle, by meeting young people on their own terms and being able to offer a more personalised and targeted approach. However, only 40% of those surveyed said that working with children and young people was a significant focus for their work; others had lesser involvement. This suggests that the number and profile of children and young people focused cultural organisations is in the minority and the possibilities for genuine co-construction are accordingly limited. Only four organisations described themselves as geared up to co-deliver and create with young people. The majority of arts and cultural organisations fully understand the value of involving young people in shaping programmes over a sustained stable period. There is no point in raising then dashing expectations and many feel tasters and short term courses should not be staged unless long term follow up is in place. They know that longer term offers are more likely to offer consistent and sustained engagement than frequent short term initiatives. However, funding uncertainties mean that some organisations may have problems with programme continuity and worry that young people currently engaged have expectations that the same will be available next year.

It can be hard working with agencies that engage young people out of school hours as many of these agencies are understaffed and rely on volunteers. The consistency and resources to broker genuine partnership work and support young people are sometimes hard to maintain. Arts organisations say it can be difficult to get enough continued commitment from young people to sustain project activity. They cite academic and parental pressures, part time jobs and spending time with friends as competing priorities. In rural areas it is difficult to get enough children together in one place. They may not turn up regularly and there is a real lack of paid youth workers to coordinate activities on behalf of small local groups. Some participants expressed strongly that the relationship with the young person must come first and is key to successful engagement. Key Bridge priorities for year one – Identify organisations working particularly successfully with the hardest to reach young people and work with these organisations to share the detail more widely of what’s making them successful. – identify networks that already exist amongst those working with the hardest to reach outside the cultural sector and look at how we can access them to learn and use these networks to create a flow of information between and across sectors.

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Early years Early years engagement can engender a lifelong interest in the arts. We believe that the majority of under five provision should focus on cultural and creative activities as a means to progress a child’s social, emotional and intellectual development as well as the intrinsic benefits these activities bring. The early years of life are the most significant period for brain development and it is during a child’s early years that they begin to recognise who they are and build a sense of security in their own identity. The dramatic shifts in subsidised early years provision are likely to have a big impact on the early years workforce. We are told that many people working in the early sector have little access themselves to quality cultural experiences and that the campaign to embed creativity and culture into the basic training of the early years workforce should be stepped up. That said we also recognise that many early

years professionals do engage children in creative and cultural activities and offer plentiful opportunity for children to explore their own creativity on a daily basis. Perhaps the emphasis is on increasing professionals ability to articulate and advocate for what works and why. There are many examples of fantastic collaborations between creative practitioners and early years professionals which we should seek to promote more widely. The transition between Early Years and Key Stage One deserves more focus as this is often the time when children’s access to creative and cultural activities is reduced quite significantly and this can result in levels of disengagement at a crucial time of development. 0-2s and under 5s are a significant new focus for many museums and galleries and we look forward to working with Earlyarts and other partners to bring together cultural professionals to share practice and ideas.

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Achievement and Progression

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Young people today are faced with a shifting landscape that is complex to navigate. For some, the arts and culture form part of a well rounded education. For others, they are a path to a professional career. However, navigating this path can be complex and many are dissuaded along the way. The education and cultural sectors need to work more closely together to raise aspiration, support innovation and nurture talent. We must take collective responsibility for ensuring that young people have the necessary tools, support and training to develop the entrepreneurial and professional skills required to thrive within the creative and cultural industries.

There is a sense of urgency to inspire, motivate and retain creative talent within the region, so as to grow the next generation of cultural leaders and North West artists. At the end of 2011, the Department of Work & Pensions employment statistics showed that 20.09% of 16-24 year olds in the North West are unemployed. In Sept 2011 the CBI report on skills for the creative industries highlighted considerable potential for growth within the sector and its contribution to the UK economy. However, funding for talent development is seen to be in decline and a stronger support infrastructure is required for those looking to work within the creative and cultural industries.

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Impact of the recession There are real concerns within the cultural sector that young people entering today’s workforce will struggle to establish and sustain a freelance or portfolio career. Apprenticeships, work placements and internships have always played a key role in pathways to employment within the creative and cultural sectors and are widely seen as an essential entry point. The prevalence of low or unpaid work is a long standing barrier for many, compounded by the recession as fewer families are able to support their children whilst they seek to establish themselves. Those hoping to work as freelancers face similar challenges, often limiting this opportunity to those from middle class backgrounds. The removal of the Education Maintenance Allowance and increased university tuition fees are likely to have a significant impact on the uptake of arts and cultural courses within further and higher education.

Government funding cuts and consequent redundancies or displacement have created a surplus of skilled and experienced individuals looking for work. At the same time, more organisations are cutting costs through wider use of volunteers and interns. Overall there is more competition for fewer roles making it much harder for those entering the labour market to get their first break. Many are worried that cultural organisations who do offer placements and work experience to students may no longer have the resources or capacity to do so. As such, the barriers to accessing an already highly competitive sector are growing and it is becoming harder for children and young people to see working in the creative and cultural industries as a viable option.

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Progression and talent pathways Progression routes within the creative and cultural industries can be complex, often traversing a range of art forms, providers and sectors. It is vital that young people have access to relevant and high quality information, advice and guidance so as to understand the range of opportunities and routes available. A more coherent, meaningful and connected approach to accreditation and progression across the North West is required, ensuring that young people have access to the same opportunities wherever they live. Some cultural professionals feel that young people expect to become experts within their field too quickly and do not fully appreciate the time, hard work and discipline required to achieve genuine recognition and success. Many are concerned about the current ‘cliff edge’ approach to vulnerable young people who receive very little funding or support upon leaving the Government ‘system’ at 1921 years old. University graduates often struggle with the transition from academic study to employment, finding it difficult to continue developing their practice or to establish a freelance career.

Many feel that existing progression routes fail precisely because they don’t address the journey a young person needs to make from developing an interest or gaining accreditation through to developing the required degree of skill that will enable them to generate an income. Without money from parents or connections in the relevant industry, many young people cannot make this transition. Young people are requesting support with scholarships for theatre school and art academies and a fund that young people could apply for to pay for some exams.

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Cultural employers Many arts and cultural organisations already provide meaningful progression and development routes for young people. However, these opportunities tend to relate to a specific organisation or the art form/sector it represents. We need to create a more joined up offer that supports young people’s cultural and social mobility and is more genuinely responsive to their interests and needs. Developing stronger partnerships with national agencies such as the National Skills Academy (NSA) for Creative & Cultural will help to champion and make visible the vocational options and entry points within the cultural sector. Many feel that work based and vocational learning offers need to better emulate and support real life experience so as to provide genuine insight, manage expectations and develop skills for employability. The cultural sector should provide more opportunities for work related learning outside of formal education through Creative Apprenticeships and work placements, traineeships, internships, master classes and other ‘hands on’ learning programmes.

Creative and cultural employers across all sectors should be encouraged to share models of supporting young people’s progression with a particular focus on access and inclusion. There are some good examples of structured job creation for young people within the region, including the Manchester City Council funded ‘Creative Stars’ project through which a consortium of cultural organisations are supporting 19 young people to develop and showcase their talents over the course of a year. However, funding for these types of programmes is increasingly scarce. It has been suggested that cultural employers could work with Job Centre Plus to run ‘creative job clubs’.

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Support and inspiration for young people There are a range of excellent models supporting emerging artists within the North West, many of which prioritise the development of business skills alongside creative practice: – Merseyside’s Creative Apprenticeships pilot was held up as an example of what’s possible – the first graduates of the programme all went straight into employment in the arts and cultural sector. – PANDA Youth offers networking, coaching and training opportunities for young people with an interest in performing arts. – NOISE offers online portfolios, networking opportunities and access to industry professionals that connect progression opportunities with employment opportunities in the cultural industries. – The ‘Stride’ project run by Company Chameleon and DIGM supported young male dancers to develop their own choreographic skills as creative apprentices. A cultural careers champion programme was suggested to encourage inspiring figures from the North West who have enjoyed a high-level of success in the arts to act as role models.

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Accreditation and qualifications Within formal education, the value of many arts based courses has been undermined with the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Although the Creative and Media Diploma is still available, the main modules used by schools will not count towards the EBacc, making it less likely that schools and colleges will support them. Most creative digital and ICT courses will count however, providing some potential for embedding creativity within EBacc delivery. Following the Wolf Review of Vocational Education, the Department of Education has reduced the number of non GCSE qualifications recognised in school and college performance tables for 14-16 year olds from three thousand to seventy. This overhaul aims to reaffirm the status of courses providing young people with high level skills for employability. Within the remaining seventy, there are a number of creative and cultural based qualifications, such as BTECs, which it is hoped that schools will feel more confident in using following the Department of Education’s endorsement. Arts Award will no longer be recognised within school league tables, although the Gold award continues to carry 35 UCAS points and is increasingly recognised by FE and HE as a strong indicator of project management and leadership skills. Although changes will only be implemented in league tables from 2015 many expect to see a significant shift in courses offered from September this year.

The ongoing Government review of Apprenticeships and the new Youth Contract provide a range of opportunities. Liverpool Community College and Salford College lead on the delivery of Creative Apprenticeships within the North West and we are awaiting further information on the introduction of regional National Skills Academy hubs. The Bridge will continue to encourage and promote opportunities for young people to gain recognition and accreditation through their engagement with arts and cultural activities. We will also work to ensure better integration of vocational learning schemes such as Arts Award, the Creative & Media Diploma and Creative Apprenticeships across the region so that as many young people can access them as possible. Links with Higher Education There is a clearly articulated desire to build stronger partnerships, research labs and action research projects with Higher Education – something the Bridge could facilitate with its strategic links. More graduate placement schemes and the possibility of graduate apprentice posts have also been discussed.

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Careers information and guidance Although a number of resources have been developed nationally to support careers advice for the creative and cultural industries, public awareness and use of these resources is generally low. All young people within the North West should have access to high quality information, advice and guidance about creative and cultural career opportunities and support in finding relevant work experience, where appropriate. Many feel that more needs to be done in raising awareness of existing opportunities to reach a broader audience and increase uptake, particularly amongst the most hard to reach young people. Parents, schools and careers advisory services were all cited as needing better access to information. However, many are concerned about raising expectation amongst young people without having a clear sense of what opportunities the creative and cultural landscape may hold within the next 5 years. Online portfolios We are exploring opportunities for online showcasing of young people’s creative work, potentially linking with current research and promotion of web based portfolios for Arts Award and other cultural programmes. We will support young people in taking their work to a broader audience, sharing their achievements with friends and family and presenting evidence of skills and experience for college or university interviews or to potential employers.

Work experience and volunteering Cultural organisations would like schools to be more flexible and innovative in their approach to work experience, specifically requesting a move away from concentrating all placements within a single week. As a solution to this particular problem one theatre recently took on twenty children for a week long ‘Behind the Scenes’ programme . Students worked 9-4pm each day, developing their knowledge of theatre production, management and administration and having the opportunity to spend a full day with a department of their choice. The theatre and the school are keen to develop this relationship further and students have already been given access to a range of volunteering opportunities. Many youth clubs, theatres, museums, galleries, and heritage settings offer opportunities for dedicated volunteers. It is vital that young people are welcomed by these organisations and given access to such opportunities. More cultural organisations should be able to articulate how they are developing young people’s skills through their volunteering offer.

Achievement and Progression

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Arts Award

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The Bridge will work to encourage and promote opportunities for young people to gain recognition and accreditation through their engagement with arts and cultural activities. We have a specific role to play in promoting Arts Award and ensuring the qualification is fully integrated with other forms of vocational and work-related learning. Areas of low engagement Participation reports provide a breakdown of moderations by local authority twice a year in October and April. Although regional uptake within 2011 has more than doubled the Trinity target, moderation numbers are still so low as to be disproportionately affected by one centre taking a large group through; e.g. in Warrington in 2010-11 101 Bronze awards were achieved; however 100 of these were achieved by one high school. Figures for Cumbria and Lancashire are countywide. As such, these statistics cannot stand alone in providing an accurate overview of engagement within a specific borough.

A basic ranking of local authorities using 2009-10 and 2010-11 moderation statistics shows Manchester and Liverpool achieving the highest number of awards, with lowest uptake in: – Cheshire West – Cheshire East – Halton – Rochdale – Tameside – Blackburn – St Helens

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Strengths of Arts Award – Arts Award is special in offering a recognised qualification to young people in school and further education. – The award offers progression routes outside formal education. – The award is flexible and examples of home educated young people using Arts Award as formal framework for accreditation has been documented. – The award can act as a great engagement tool for young people in youth custody and offending. – The award is flexible enough to integrate into existing programmes of work, but works at its best when embedded rather than add on to activities. – Participation in arts and culture can be tracked with Arts Award through measurable outcomes. – The benefits for an arts organisation are the award, and promotion of the provision to young people completing their award, is a huge opportunity to develop audiences of the future.

– The process and adviser support enables a rare opportunity for some young people to have 1:1 support from an adult. Thereby enriching the lives of some young people beyond the intrinsic experience of arts and culture. – There are great examples of Arts Award being used to work with groups of young people with specific challenges – helping to develop their confidence and communication skills, because of the flexible nature of gathering evidence & documentation, this gives young people space to reflect, and ownership and autonomy over their own journeys. An almost unique experience while gaining a recognised qualification. – Arts Award can act as an intervention to improve the quality of provision and the type of provision, for children and young people. Their leadership opportunities and voice as creative commentators a rich seam of feedback unusual for arts and cultural organisations to receive.

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Challenges of Arts Award – Some arts organisations struggling to find young people to work with (especially in areas where lots of schools are already doing it). – Members of the sector find it difficult to truly articulate the value of the award to young people. – How recognisable is the award beyond the arts and culture sector? Is it respected by employees? – Schools see the award as expensive –including releasing staff to attend training, moderation fees and arts provision. – The award can be seen as expensive by arts organisations too.

– Numbers of trained advisers, across the country, who have never delivered is a clear challenge. – Now the award has not been in included in school league tables recognition it will be difficult to get schools to implement and embed a qualification that brings little benefit to a schools status. – It’s important to develop bespoke pathways which are structured to suit needs of individuals with particular individual learning journeys.

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Bridge Key Priorities – Develop a steering group for the Arts Award workforce in the region to include trainers and moderators. – Offer a series of regional adviser conferences and seminars focusing on themes such as; working with young people at risk, SEN, progression to silver and delivering gold, and Arts Award in care settings. – Create an online community for Arts Award advisers. – Support organisations (including arts organisations, formal and informal education sectors) to embed Arts Award effectively in programme and activity design. Help these settings develop good, clear and flexible way of supporting young people to engage in arts and culture. – Facilitate the wider use of Arts Award by faith, community and other non-formal and third sector organisations. – Ensure clarity between Arts mark and Arts Award. – Provide specific support for NPO’s. – Bring Artsmark and Arts Award workforces together to understand each other’s work fully. – Support young people to achieve Arts Award, specifically offering: an experienced mentor who is already progressing in the same area; people to help motivate and support them. – Develop creative ways of evidencing Arts Award– embracing the platforms and formats children and young people use in their everyday peer communications.

– Develop working groups for Arts Award advisers, trainers and moderators. – The All About Audiences survey of cultural orgs suggests museums require more information and advocacy about Arts Award programme. – 59% of Arts Award centres not planning to put any children and young people through this year and 70% never have, meaning we need to focus work and support around the qualification process from training to moderation. – We will encourage organisations to become better, and will provide the platforms, for sharing practice, connecting up individual offers and offering clarity in infrastructure of cultural ecology. – Encourage peer to peer relationships between organisations so they can learn & collaborate more meaningfully and support each other through moderations. – Support local area models of partnership working through Arts Award that encourage and enable young people’s cultural mobility and progression. – Develop advocacy and support for Silver and Gold focused on the development of leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

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Quality and Excellence

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Arts Council England is committed to raising the standard of work being produced by, with and for children and young people. It has identified the need to develop a shared approach for arts and cultural organisations to understand and compare the quality of work by, with and for children and young people whether as participants, audience members, visitors or artists. The Bridge is contributing to the development of that shared approach and will work to implement any outcomes in partnership with the region’s arts and cultural sector. Alongside this, we will work with our consultative networks in the region to identify, promote and share best practice. There is a fantastic art and cultural provision across the region but there is some that is mediocre and some that is poor. Here we gather a range of perspectives based on what children and young people, schools and cultural organisations have to say about quality.

Definitions Quality is seen by some as an abstract concept unless it is defined in relation to a specific piece of work or experience. All too often we focus on the debate rather than using our paid time to create the work itself. One view is that we should accept that as a sector we represent a diverse range of practice with different approaches, language and assumptions, and rather than waste our time saying we need to define quality we should start sharing our thoughts on it through the quality of the work we produce.

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Quality frameworks Many welcome the call to define quality and agree established, national standards for what quality looks like in practice. Curious Minds produced draft versions of quality frameworks for schools and cultural organisations through Find Your Talent. These were designed to enable all organisations and schools to have a clear understanding of what excellent provision looks like and analyse the impact and value of arts and cultural programmes for children and young people in a unified manner. We believe a set of shared quality standards across the arts and cultural sector and support to help organisations achieve them would certainly contribute to the development of quality and excellence in provision for children and young people. An effective quality assurance system would offer challenge and inspiration to those whose practice is already strong, supporting continuous improvement in all, not just those at an early stage of development.

Teachers find it easy to assess the quality of cultural learning provision and there is certainly a case to make that a framework could provide a greater understanding of and attention to quality, resulting in both improved artistic practice and the growth of business through increased commissions. For some, a framework would be a ‘useful starting point so there is actually something to debate’ while for others, artistic practice is the key and ‘frameworks cloud the artistic quality.’ Whatever framework schools or other settings might use, it will be important that it complements the Artsmark framework, which is discussed in the ‘Schools’ section of this report. To raise the bar in a systematic way we would need to introduce an additional layer of bureaucracy. There are concerns about the impact of this on those who are ‘already underfunded and overstretched’. We should trust people who are already doing great work and not reinvent the wheel. Quality artistic practice is key and Instead we should direct our energies towards enabling more young people to see and access great work and connect with highly skilled professional artists.

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Raising the profile of excellence Many say we should focus our attention on raising the profile of art and culture by celebrating great work and flagging up excellent practice. The Bridge should be a champion of quality who advocates through signposting to the best work. There should be a spotlight on great practice and opportunities across the whole region, not just the cities. People want opportunities to come together, share and experience the great work taking place across the region. There should also be platforms for exemplary individuals and organisations to talk persuasively to their peers about achieving excellence.

If everybody across the sector came together along with a cross section of young people to share an example of one programme or project they had been involved in which had been of the highest quality, we would have a fantastic bank of examples we could use to analyse what makes a ‘quality experience.’ Learning from young people Young people say they want to experience performances that are: – Professional – Socially fun – Offer refreshments – Are inclusive

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Young people say they want the chance to create art and culture through activities that are: – Well-facilitated by adults who treat them with respect, see them as equals, and know how to help them feel comfortable and confident. – Fun, hands on and stimulating, with active, equal involvement. – Relevant to their interests, and chosen by the young people themselves, although they would also like to try lots of different and varied art forms and cultural experiences, to find out what they enjoy. – Challenging, stimulating their own creativity: this level of challenge should be flexible, depending on the young people’s needs. Young people want to learn new things but not be given impossible tasks. Facilitators should pace activities to keep young people interested, making them not too difficult at first.

– Tailored and designed to their needs and appropriate for different ages and abilities. – Well resourced – children want to use state of the art technology and quality materials, and be able to have food and drink when they need it. – Respectful of how creative young people are able to be during art and cultural experiences. Young people enjoy doing, instead of just looking and listening alone and would like to spend time with artists who are interested in their needs. – Designed to enable them to share work with an audience alongside high profile artists. All the young people we spoke to in Cheshire had visited Eureka! The National Children’s Museum and spoke of it positively. Other venues, individuals and organisations could visit Eureka! or other venues and organisations recommended by young people to experience directly what made it so special for them.

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Process and product Many feel there is still a perception of the arts as a product rather than a process. There was a general consensus that art and cultural production are both the process and the product and the two have equal value. There will usually be a quality product if a quality process has been put into place. Others feel we should give equal attention to process, product and engagement. The product should be a celebration of the artistic process and successful engagement. Many said that ‘great art ‘for’ everyone’ should be rephrased as ‘great art ‘by’ everyone.’ Defining a quality arts and cultural ‘experience’ Perhaps the term ‘arts experience’ combines process and product and moves us on from the above debate. All experiences are of course different by nature but as a starting point, we would say that quality arts experiences

should be creative, challenging, empowering, inclusive, responsive to needs and able to provide opportunities for further progression. One organisation said to us:

Look at the numbers of young people coming through our doors and decide for yourselves if we offer a quality experience, no funding application form can capture the life changing impact of our work better than that.
Progression Great experiences ensure children and young people are able to progress through their participation in arts and culture. Many activities currently on offer have been described as limited and repetitious with the same entry level experiences being offered over and over again. Quality programmes have tangible learning outcomes young people can take forward and build on.

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Workforce development Many cultural organisations stressed the importance of finding funding to support a structured workforce development programme that enables the development of improved skills and professional competencies across the cultural sector. This will contribute to the continued development of meaningful quality work with communities and schools. About a third of respondents were concerned about the quality of community arts practice and feel that the process is very often at the expense of artistic excellence. Some third sector organisations are delivering arts along with a range of other activities but if it is not their key purpose they feel they are not delivering or accessing quality. Particular emphasis should be placed on supporting third sector organisations to improve the quality of arts and cultural activities they offer through links to quality arts workers and arts organisations. This would be of particular value to communities that do not have a venue or arts organisation on their doorstep.

There were concerns that individual practitioners no longer have as many opportunities to participate in affordable professional development, now that Creative Partnerships has ended. Creative Partnerships was a lucrative income stream for many practitioners but alongside this promise of work, the nature of the work required practitioners to participate in CPD and commit to developing their own practice. One local authority said that some community arts practitioners found the concept of artistic practice development. too threatening to engage with. Peer review was cited by a number of people as a good mechanism for improving quality, sharing excellent practice and regional models across the sector as well as across art forms.

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Poor quality provision Many worry that poor quality provision is worse than none at all – if a one-off opportunity to engage a young person arises and that experience is poor it may close that young person’s mind to further engagement for good. The sector has a duty to ensure that all children and young people are offered the best possible experience every time, whetting their appetite for continued engagement. Cheap or free offers from individuals, arts organisations and private enterprises that undercut other providers are now emerging and many are of a poor quality.

Schools It is very important that schools understand quality; teachers are experts at measuring impact and quality but some were concerned that in the current climate commissioning increasingly happens based on price not excellence. One example was given of schools commissioning a neighbouring authority’s service because the price was lower than their own authority. Perhaps schools could be invited to observe quality arts and cultural sessions as they are used to doing with teaching – this would be a school-friendly model to adopt. Parents should also be involved in assessing and engaging with quality. Artsmark will be a significant tool for supporting schools and other settings to achieve quality, through innovative collaboration with the best artists and practitioners working across the North West.

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Measuring impact Organisations are asking for support to measure and capture the social impact of their work. They recognise this costs money and takes time. The arts and cultural sector need to continue looking for ways to capture those light-bulb and life-changing moments which we hear about anecdotally all the time. We need to understand and find a mechanism to articulate why these moments make a difference and the longer term impact they have. It is a big challenge to measure how many young people have ‘reasonable access’ to cultural experiences, whether they are taking up this offer and whether the engagement is sustained. Perhaps instead we should concentrate on tracking the impact of young people’s engagement in arts and culture over a number of years and explore research programmes that could help us do this.

Key Bridge priorities in year one – Work with arts and cultural organisations to challenge quality constructively and offer peer support. – Champion, endorse and celebrate great work around the region across as many forums as possible. – Continue developing a strategic relationship with C-PAL. – Support organisations to measure the quality and impact of their work using existing Curious Minds frameworks. – Co-ordinate and instigate opportunities for relevant research studies around themes relating to quality and impact. – Support third sector organisations to improve the quality of arts and cultural activities they offer through links to quality arts workers and arts organisations.

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What do young people think a quality experience offers? Children and young people, like adults, have subjective perceptions of what quality and excellence means. It depends on personality, identity and taste. What matters is finding an experience that challenges, motivates, inspires and confirms your understanding of life, and helps you to cope with your feelings and emotions. Feelings, emotions and identity – One 15-year-old boy from Merseyside who loves painting (although he has experienced many barriers to broader art and culture because of his family circumstances) recognises that art helps him understand and manage his feelings:

Interactive and interpersonal experiences – Young people in all the groups said that the quality of their experience was affected by the level of interaction they were allowed or able to have and the more multi-sensory it was the better:

Art can help you find ways to represent your emotions and if you can represent your emotions then you can start to control them.
Another described how a quality cultural experience gave young people the chance to explore and express their individuality and celebrate who they are:

...There’s one in Rochdale and downstairs it’s like really interactive, like history. And then upstairs it’s like modern art, you know like those things where you put your pen in and it’s a spiral and it makes those circles? There’s a person that’s done one, that’s like the size of this wall. And you get to do one yourself and you can stick it around it. And it’s really fun and me and my friend spent lots of time in there when we got to Rochdale.
Another young person described a desire to be active:

If it’s something different like a concert or something, you don’t want to just be sat there watching them, you want to be like involved with it.

It felt like I was who I was, I made something that I wanted to make.

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Respect, equality and ownership – The quality of a young person’s experience is highly dependent on the attitude of the adults involved and their ability to foster a positive, inclusive environment: ‘Yeah, he spoke to us like adults. He spoke to us like we were people so we could make our own choices and we would be sensible about it.’ ‘Yeah but it wasn’t just standard stuff that would be like rehearsed, you know when it’s just like, you do this, you do this, you do this, and this is how you do this.’ ‘It was kind of like right OK, well what do you want to do about it? And we were just like right, OK then!’ The quality of one young person’s experience of a workshop was marred by an adult talking too much. He said he ‘would have learned more in a digital photography workshop and enjoyed it more, if the photographer had stopped talking and allowed them to do more.’

Challenge and learning – Whatever type of art or culture young people are interested in, the need for challenge is a recurring factor in enabling them to enjoy it. One 14-year-old boy who described himself as ‘alternative’, said that the art and culture he’d been involved in had been ‘too samey’. He said, ‘it was just games’, ‘there was no challenge to it’ and ‘it was not serious enough.’ He has visited many historical venues in and around Stockport on his own, because

you can learn a lot about the future from the past, and if you know about the future, then you’re on to a winner.
Progression and achievement is important for young people. They want more than the basics; they want indepth learning using proper equipment and resources, and adequate time. They want their facilitators to be professional, to manage time properly, give them choices and communicate clearly.

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Bridge priorities for year one – Develop strategic relationships with the National Skills Academy (NSA) for Creative & Cultural, supporting the cultural organisations to access CPD and Apprenticeships and fostering links with Further Education Colleges. – Promote and signpost to relevant careers information and guidance on Curious Minds website. – Encourage networks of creative and cultural employers to share their experience and models of working with young people and offering progression routes, particularly looking at how to offer access to all and not just restricting access to those who can afford it. – Work with key strategic partners to improve the quality of careers advice and guidance around employment in the creative industries.

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Artsmark

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Schools see Artsmark as an excellent tool that gives them the confidence to enable children and young people to consume, create and celebrate all forms of art and culture. Schools want Artsmark to give children and young people access to a diverse range of artists and experiences of high quality, as described in the Quality section of this report. It is thought that schools could use benchmarks such as Artsmark and Arts Award even more strategically to enhance their competitive edge, proving to parents and others that their arts and cultural offer is of the highest standard. Challenges – Reduced school budgets may make it more difficult for schools to fulfil some of the requirements of Artsmark, particularly in relation to developing partnerships with professional artists and providing continuing professional developmental opportunities for staff. Schools will be looking for cheaper or free partners and there are worries these partners may provide a lower quality offer. – More academies and secondary schools appear to be turning ‘lukewarm’ towards Artsmark as the pressure to deliver against other priorities intensifies. – Many schools see the Artsmark application as too time consuming and complex a process. This time round, Artsmark trainers were not able to meet all the needs of schools in the time available although there was a real appetite from schools for follow on support. – Artsmark trainers have raised the concern that some applicants see the ‘requirement’ to offer Arts Award as a hidden cost of the Artsmark application. – This year the ‘peer assessor’ role has often been handed from heads and senior managers to less experienced and sometimes reluctant staff. They may not be prepared or skilled enough to play a strong role in assessing other schools. – As Trinity takes on the role of delivering Artsmark as well as Arts Award for Arts Council England, the cross-promotion of both programmes whilst ensuring each brand remains distinctive will create both opportunities and challenges.

Artsmark

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Bridge key priorities for year one – Establish a pan regional Artsmark working group for the North West Artsmark workforce. – Ensure Artsmark assessors understand the broad range of benefits of Arts Award within formal education so they are confident in advocating for Arts Award and offering practical advice during school visits. – Ensure Arts Award trainers understand the role and value of Artsmark and are confident in promoting it to schools, where possible . – Work with Artsmark trainers and others to ensure schools receive sufficient support during the Artsmark application process. – Offer recommendations to Trinity based on feedback from schools, Artsmark assessors and trainers to refine the application process to be as simple as possible without compromising on quality. – Support schools to identify and collaborate with artists and organisations who offer a service of high quality.

– Advocate Artsmark to all schools and young people’s settings across the North West. Curious Minds will build on relationships already established through Creative Partnerships, work closely with Artsmark Gold schools to promote and share best practice, and make new links. However, we will give particular priority to areas with low take up of Artsmark or at risk of becoming so as local authority influence diminishes. We will therefore focus Bridge resources on Tameside, Lancashire, Rochdale, Cheshire East and Bury, where fewer than 15% of schools hold a current Artsmark award. It will be important to learn lessons from Halton, where 60% of schools have a current Artsmark award as well as areas such as Warrington, Knowsley and St Helen’s, where (respectively) 44%, 44% and 34% of schools have a current Artsmark award. It will also be important to ensure we sustain high take up in these areas. – Make best use of strong Artsmark advocates to raise the bar, promoting excellent practice and high quality partnerships.

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Funding

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What funding streams are available in the region? Ideas gathered from focus groups – Philanthropy - Role of philanthropists significant, the government is attempting to encourage more philanthropic giving. Projects involving children and young people are very attractive to businesses wanting to be philanthropic. – Sponsorship from industry & corporate social responsibility. Projects involving children and young people are popular with business looking at ways to connect with a corporate social responsibility agenda. – Charitable trusts and charities - could the Bridge have strategic level discussions with big funders like Children in Need and Comic Relief about strategic projects and multi partner cross region delivery? – Cultural Olympiad – Consortia: Matchmaking and leading consortia to bid – Health sector partners – Health and Wellbeing agendas – Private sector – eg. Housing – LA commissioning arms length services – such as Liverpool Direct Ltd – LA funding - AGMA – – – – – – – Renaissance / Heritage Lottery ACE – Grants for the Arts / Capital Funding Lottery / Awards for All Venue and trader fees Revenue from admissions/ticket sales Memberships and/or subscriptions Selling service skills of the sector e.g. expertise in technology or social media, show production, firework displays, equipment hire – Community Foundations – Political members can have very small discretionary amounts to give- £3K each for example There was consensus that cultural education provision needs to look more closely at mixed economy models and public private partnerships, acknowledging the role social enterprise can play in building sustainable businesses in the current economic climate and offering greater independence, sustainability and flexibility.

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What funding streams are available in the region? Ideas gathered from focus groups – Help and expertise in funding bid writing. Capacity building key people in the sector to become expert in writing successful bids and to become more entrepreneurial in their work. – Help arts & cultural organisations identify investment opportunities through raising awareness of what is available through e-bulletin communication. – Start to bring together consortia from across all sectors – arts organisation to youth centre to local authority – so these groups can bid for funds as a whole entity. Build the foundation of activity and then find funds for it, not the other way around. – Build awareness across all sectors so each sector knows more about each other. Done through case studies, e-bulletin profiles. Explaining what their needs, barriers and visions are. – Match make between organisations and groups. Provide the opportunity for arts and cultural organisations to pair up and build relationships – therefore setting the ground for future funding bids together. Developing mutual support and advice between them. – Be an advocate for work with children and young people in the North West and promote this with major funders. Give them the sense of “We want to be part of this movement” – Act as more than just the conduit to relationship building between sectors but actively play a role throughout the process, advising on next and new directions and an access point for support as a bid is submitted by groups / consortia. – Generating business funding through CSR .This is a very new area for a lot of organisations. How does a private funder decide where to make their investment? They need a broker. Curious Minds could speak to big companies who will listen. They could accept a large donation and trickle that down to lots of smaller projects.

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Threats for the Bridge

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What are the threats for the Bridge? Feedback from regional focus groups Geography – Is the North West region too geographically large for this work – will the offer be diluted and therefore not bring about any real change? – Size and diversity of the region threatens local knowledge – is there a need for sub regional officers? – Will the number of arts organisations in the region make it difficult to co-ordinate a strategy? – Are the different sub regional agendas too diverse? Is there an assumption one size fits all? – Complex geography – Urban deprivation and rural isolation – Localism – young people themselves verl locally focused and not interested in the bigger world – Some museums are very building/collections focused which can mean a lack of opportunities to collaborate – can be parochial in focus – Diverse population-deprivation both rural and urban – Focusing on the regions rather than just the cities

Communication and attitudes – Is the concept of a bridge tokenistic? – Without much project money how can you do and not just talk? – Managing expectations – Arts organisations – initiative overload and cynicism – Single site museums and non Renaissance local authority services know little of Curious Minds and Arts Council – Many organisations closing, there is a perception that you’re ok and not really doing anything – Knowledge base – painting wrong picture – reinventing the wheel rather than building the car! – Default to former ways of working / existing partnerships – Lack of “buy in” from organisations – Fear factor of small organisations – Confusing children and young people – two different audiences – High hopes, - for new funding streams – School /non school balance and approach – Focus too much on local authorities at expense of wide network of organisations – Lack of knowledge – other agencies have a lack of knowledge about how the arts could be used by them and how we work together.

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Capacity – Do arts organisations and schools have the capacity to make this work without funding? – Does the arts sector have buy in to this agenda? – How can anyone offer an holistic offer for all 0-19 year olds? The needs of this age group couldn’t be more diverse. – Is there a conflict between the commitment to collaboration and the very real competitiveness for funding and audiences currently facing arts and cultural organisations? – The lack of long term commitment from the government threatens buy in as three years won’t solve the long term issues – Stretched too far, is it too big? – Not fully understanding equality doesn’t mean equal [danger of being spread too thin and only the most vocal heard and everyone wanting a piece of pie – Timescale – Longevity of programme – capacity of programme – Fewer organisations to offer services

Funding – There is an expectation to build on the outcomes of Find Your Talent – it was only in 2 areas and we haven’t got the money they had! – The arts infrastructure is fading away and key partners are disappearing – Arts and culture are already falling off schools agendas – Funding climate devolved, localised and potent fragmented – so orgs have to demonstrate they offer and prioritise needs of audience and participation, and plan and develop projects in partnership – Climate for arts organisations due to funding cuts or / and cuts in staffing results in reduced levels of outreach. – Everyone has less money, young people, families, schools, arts orgs and local authorities– is it an empty offer? How can we magic provision where there is none? Can’t replace an organisation like Prescap – Family budget constraints – Being seen as a support agency to cultural organisations full stop, not just for work around children and young people – Managing expectations

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Advocacy

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We don’t share enough about what we do or what it is possible for us to do.
Right across the North West we have seen, heard and ourselves provided fantastic examples of rich arts and cultural provision for children and young people. Many young people are benefiting from a rich and sustainable creative education and amazing work for, by and with children and young people is taking place. It is the Bridge’s role to ensure that this work is profiled, promoted and embraced right across the North West and beyond. Our ambition is that by April 2015 the North West is known as ‘the home for the best arts and culture for and by children and young people’. Where creative education takes place in our schools it is with the highest quality artists and arts organisations and our children and young people are surrounded by and celebrating great art for everyone. How do we achieve this from an advocacy perspective? During our consultations the main suggestions for focus were to build a head of political steam and campaign for the benefits of creative education.

Education There is a significant role for the Bridge to play in engaging the active support of the education sector and lobbying for educational investment in arts and culture for children and young people. The evidence and expertise is here in the region. Regardless of political commentary, we believe arts, culture and creativity can survive within the new Ofsted framework. Our job as advocates is to encourage schools to become brave and help them to embrace creativity in education. We need to use strong case studies and ‘case stories’ to demonstrate evidence of impact and we, along with many other providers in the region, have these already. We need to use these to get the message out there that it can be done, it should be done and the Bridge is there to help make it happen. We would like to develop a coordinated campaign with Arts Council and other Bridge organisations lobbying political leaders to ensure the importance of arts and culture and education.

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Campaigning for a better deal for young people The riots in summer 2011 in Manchester and Liverpool highlighted the need for the Bridge and providers of provision for children and young people to work with the regional media to share positive news stories about the great things young people are doing in the arts through arts organisations, school and communities and for organisations like the Bridge to take a lead in using Twitter, social networks and e-bulletins to share such stories. Positive publicity and advocacy about young people and their achievements helps combat negativity in press coverage. The press coverage of the riots revealed much negative stereotyping of young people by the media, statistics now show that 48% of the rioters caught were actually over 21. Something dramatically missing from all media reports during and in the immediate aftermath of the riots was the voice of young people who did not agree with the actions of the rioters. Only through pressure from arts and cultural organisations and certain media professionals did the national and regional press start to publish positive young people stories. The ‘Youth’ is a stigmatised subject in the British media and there are problems with young people and crime, but these issues are more complex and less dumbed down than the media wishes us to believe. It is our job to get these issues profiled on a wider platform and campaign for that better deal for young people.

Culture can make a very real contribution to all of the Every Child Matters outcomes and wider agendas around child development, careers development and economic prosperity, and health and wellbeing and we need to ensure our partners and others have a solid understanding of these key outcomes. As a region we need to spotlight excellent practice and interesting partnerships which successfully engage and consult the hardest to reach groups in the region. We need to spotlight tangible examples where young people’s voice has actually made changes which have resulted in increased access for other young people. Ultimately it is a ‘hearts and minds’ battle – our advocacy of children and young people has to be emotionally engaging, telling the human story so people can relate not just in relation to how good a dancer or actor a young person is, but through their story of how they got to where they are and the challenges they overcame along the way. We want to present positivity, opportunity and a way forward. We also need campaigns involving and led by young people, harnessing social networking media so young people can advocate to fellow young people. Advocacy is not just with funders, political leaders and adults. We need to advocate to young people as well, so they know it is fine and healthy, perhaps even cool to engage with arts and culture.

Advocacy

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Lobbying for arts and culture in the North West The Bridge should gather together key research and evidence of impact and advocate this information to key policy and decision makers in the North West and across the country. The Bridge should work to cohere and unite other regional arts and cultural leaders in campaigns lobbying for the power, importance and impact of the arts in a range of contexts. The Bridge should work with others to advocate the value of the arts to business. The Bridge should make an economic case for the arts and cultural training and map out the real benefits it can bring to the economy. A need has been clearly identified for a strong and unified regional voice that will raise the profile of arts and cultural learning in a strategic, co-ordinated and effective manner. Curious Minds is in an excellent position to act as a pressure group working with all the relevant sectors in the North West to influence and comment on policy on arts and culture and children and young people’s lives.

Many emphasised the importance of capturing and disseminating persuasive evidence of the value and impact of culture. Making the case for further long term investment in the arts for children and young people through improving evidence based practice and must be a collective effort. Supporting arts and cultural organisations to do this well and then disseminating good examples is essential. We need to evidence and profile the best examples of successful programmes and not be scared to shout from the rafters about how great the work in the North West is and why. Through championing this practice and the North West as a region we hope to lever further investment for the region. Ultimately we want to create a campaign and a movement highlighting the North West as the place to find the best arts and cultural activities, opportunities and talent. In a sense we want to create a form of cultural tourism by celebrating what we have on a national stage so that people know to come to the North West for the best arts and culture for young people. People need to know about the extent and strength of what is available and the impact it is having on our young people, communities, education and the creative and cultural industries. This will cover the diverse parts of a very large region and not focus solely on the urban centres of Manchester and Liverpool.

Advocacy

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Advocates and patrons Strong advocates are always needed to ensure a movement has real connection to the general public and funders. The Bridge needs to gather active and engaging advocates for arts and culture work and are looking forward to building on the success of our publication, Curious Stories, to continue making the case for why arts and culture for children and young people is so vitally essential to a healthy and forward looking society. But these advocates shouldn’t just be celebrities or actors, they should be the everyman and woman as well. The great head teacher, the young person going places, the community hub managers making a difference to their community all offer a human aspect. This will be our approach to engaging people, showing that arts and culture really can make a significant difference to people and their communities.

Advocacy

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