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Widening access to the arts for children and young people in Brighton & Hove

Posted on 14 December 2015

The Cultural Education Partnership for Brighton and Hove carries out research into the way local communities engage with the arts. With accurate data, we’re able to understand the real needs of the local area and provide better support for cultural projects. Significant levels of economic hardship affect the region, and engagement with arts and culture has often been low.

Evidence and intelligence gathering

The Partnership wanted to find out more about cultural provision in Brighton & Hove. Reports were commissioned on the engagement levels of local communities with the arts, including the Child Poverty Index (2011), Brighton & Hove City Snapshot (2014), Brighton & Hove Health Counts (2012), and the Safe and Well at School Survey.

During this consultation phase the need for a ‘backbone organisation’ was identified. This prompted the creation of a Cultural Hub to ensure close strategic working between Brighton Dome & Festival, Royal Pavilion & Museums, and SoundCity.

Creating a template for engagement

Artswork, one of the Partnership’s key collaborators, pioneered a template to create educational and socio-economic profiles of children and young people. The information gathered using this resource has increased our understanding of low-engagement areas. The template draws from a range of comparable data, covering free school meals, special educational needs, child poverty, attainment, Artsmark and Arts Award.

Governing partners

A strategic advisory board, chaired by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Brighton, oversaw the initial work. The advisory board included members of Brighton & Hove City Council, Public Health & School Improvement, National Portfolio Organisations, Major Partner Museums, Music Education Hubs, Artswork and headteachers. 

The partners spoke with nearly 1,000 people in the community about the city’s future – more than half were children and young people.

Developing a new focus for local schools

Giving children access to great cultural experiences was highlighted as a priority for the city’s schools. The Partnership will play an important role in developing a local cultural education curriculum underpinned by the Arts Council’s Quality Principles, and incorporating Arts Award and Artsmark.

Next steps

The Partnership has established goals for the next ten years, which include:

  • Fostering creativity
  • Improving wellbeing
  • Encouraging the development of digital skills
  • Creating pathways into employment
  • Sustaining coordinated action

A full three-year business plan has also been produced which includes new strategic commissioning opportunities as well as the re-alignment of existing budgets and consortia bids to major trusts and foundations.