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Government to launch new pilot schemes to increase children’s exposure to the arts

By Megan Rose

The culture secretary Karen Bradley has announced three new pilot schemes which will aim to increase cultural opportunities for hundreds of schoolchildren up and down the country.

The schemes, which will form the ‘Cultural Citizens Programme’, aim to expand children’s access to the arts – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The schemes are a key feature of the cultural white paper published in March, which focused on providing art and culture for all, rather than a privileged few.

The programme, which will be led by Arts Council England, includes various activities, such as behind the scenes access to museums and theatres, and exclusive trips to some of the country’s most popular venues. The pilots of the programme will be launched in September in Liverpool, Blackpool, Birmingham, and Barking & Dagenham.

Participants could learn how to become a tour guide, design a programme of cultural visits or to use social media accounts. They may also be encouraged to work towards an Arts Award qualification. If the introductory schemes prove a success, they will then be launched for thousands of other children across the UK.

The programme is likely to receive a positive reception. In July, The Science Museum announced it would be introducing a fee for one of their most popular children’s exhibitions - which resulted in public outrage and a petition urging the museum to reverse the decision.

Karen Bradley says ‘We want to ensure that [culture] is available to everyone, no matter what their background.’ The scheme, she added, would ‘open doors for hundreds of young people… so they can enjoy our fantastic arts and culture scene and gain the skills to build careers in this thriving sector.’

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