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.

Jameela Jamil, Presenter, T4

Jameela Jamil, Presenter, T4
“I would not be the person I am without it”
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.
Penny Hay, 5x5x5=creativity and Bath Spa University

One of my most memorable cultural experiences was, while recovering from a childhood illness, having lots of days off school (!) and visiting art galleries and museums with my mother. During week days we often had places to ourselves and would wander round at our own pace. I have strong memories of being lost in my drawings in response to amazing artefacts and images. Later at secondary school, I would often stay in the art room at lunchtime, sharing marmite sandwiches and recalling these experiences with my art teacher. I would rework old drawings and turn them into new work. I think I was fairly obsessed with drawing ... sometimes I didn't get to school and would be found drawing in the nearby park. As soon as I could, I worked in the local library, also a gallery, alternating this with the art supplies shop (and a necessary supply of art materials). These early experiences have had a real impact on my belief in the arts and culture to offer meaning and significance to being human.
Jacqui O'Hanlon, RSC

My first cultural experience was taking part in a school play. An English teacher called Mary Higgins joined the teaching staff of my secondary school and she began to direct whole school plays. We started with Scrooge, moved on to My Fair Lady and eventually ended up doing The Winters Tale. Those plays were hugely important to me. They seeded a love of theatre and drama work that lasts to this day. Through the process of taking part in the plays I learnt about the impact that powerful learning experiences have on children. I also learnt some valuable lessons about team work and developed a confidence about speaking in public. I draw on all of those in my current job. Twenty years later, I now run the education department at the Royal Shakespeare Company and hopefully enable other children to have a similar experience to the one that inspired me.
Sign Up

Sign up to the Cultural Learning Alliance. It is quick, free and secure and we will never share your details with anyone else.

We need your support to add weight to our conversations with policy and decision makers.

I am signing up as an:

Stay up to date on all developments in the cultural learning world by signing up to the e-newsletter.

Anti-spam: please enter the text in the image into the box.