Cultural Learning Alliance

There is an increasing realisation that the arts are essential to people’s wellbeing and that they provide a lifeline in difficult times

Julian Lloyd-Webber
Musician and Chairman of In Harmony



What was your most memorable cultural experience when you were young and how has it stayed with you?

Below is a sample of your inspiring examples of the power of cultural learning. Please see the menu on the right for more videos and stories.

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman, M&S

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman, M&S
“I probably couldn´t do what I do without it”
Nigel Middleton, Chief Executive of Villers Park Educational Trust

Two events which occurred on the same day in 1968 stand out in my mind. Having arrived in Istanbul courtesy of an ancient Morris Minor, I was sitting in a crowded early morning dolmus en route to the Hagia Sophia when the seat next to was taken by a dancing bear en route with his owner to entertain the crowds of tourists waiting to go in. A few minutes later I was standing beneath the magnificent dome which, from its construction in 532AD, was the largest in the world for over a thousand years, towering over first the Christian practices of the Orthodox Church and then the Muslim ceremonies of the conquering Ottoman army from 1453. In those few short moments I underatood for the first time that my own cultural perspective was not the “right” one. From that time on, I have tried to be open to alternatives.
Caroline Kay, Chief Executive, Bath Preservation Trust

A great thing about being born and brought up in Oxford was the potential to go to the outdoor Shakespeare put on in College gardens in the summer. Like all undergraduate productions, these ranged from magical to dire, but Shakespeare survived all of them and allowed me a degree of exposure to the words which I would never have acquired through school visits (too infrequent) or theatre (too expensive for my parents at the time). This reinforces the benefit of frequent access – it needn't always be excellent, it just needs to be there and engaged in with commitment.
Antonia Stowe, Leeds Owl Trail and visual artist

When I was five we travelled to London to visit the Natural History Museum. I clearly remember my first experience of "scale" when I peeped through the doorway in the exhibition hall and first saw the Blue Whale. It was so big that I ran and ran scared out of the main exit and my dad had to find me! Perhaps that was the moment when I became an artist. I have not looked back since!
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