Cultural Learning: Recent Arts Council England Announcements

10 August 2012

This last month has seen a bustle of activity from Arts Council England. Here are some of the highlights:

Quality update

Arts Council England has been working with Shared Intelligence and the National Foundation for Educational Research to look at ways that the cultural learning sector assesses and measures quality. This month they have published a detailed literature review that compares 31 different assessment tools that are currently in use.

NFER has also developed seven quality principles that they believe underpin cultural learning:

  1. Striving for excellence
  2. Being authentic
  3. Being exciting, inspiring and engaging
  4. Ensuring a positive, child-centred experience
  5. Actively involving children and young people
  6. Providing a sense of personal progression
  7. Developing a sense of ownership and belonging.

You can read one of the CLA contributions to the ongoing debate here

Arts Council will be continuing the work over the coming year and will be running several further seminars to check and challenge their thinking.

Henley Reviews: funding update

In both Darren Henley’s Music and Cultural Education Reviews he made a number of recommendations related to the Department of Education and their funding for projects. Information about the people and mechanisms involved has been trickling through over the last year. These are Arts Council’s most recent announcements:

National Youth Dance Company

Sadler's Wells has been selected to form a new National Youth Dance Company (NYDC). The company will provide 90 talented 16 to 19-year-old performers with new intensive training and performance opportunities led by world-leading choreographers. It will also offer talented young people from all backgrounds the chance to develop the high-level performance skills needed for a professional career in dance. Funding for the National Youth Dance Company has been confirmed as: up to £400,000 per year for 2012-15.

In Harmony

Four new In Harmony projects have been announced this month and will be delivered by The Sage Gateshead, Nottingham City Council, Opera North and Telford & Wrekin Music. Two of the three existing In Harmony projects (Liverpool and Lambeth) have also received funding to continue.

In Harmony is a national programme that aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities, using the power and disciplines of community-based orchestral music-making. You can read all about it here.

Museums and schools programme

This month there was also a little bit of further information on the forthcoming Museums and Schools Programme -which received £3.6million as part of the Henley Review announcements. The programme will support regional museums in 10 areas of England to increase the quantity and quality of the local education offer to schools.

The Museums Association have published this article, which gives some further information; stating that the programme will not be open to applications; instead, ACE will create the partnerships in areas identified as having low levels of cultural engagement. More details on the locations and partnerships will be released in the coming months.

You can read the Arts Council Press Release about all three of these initiatives here.

Creative Media Policy

Arts Council’s newly minted Creative Media Policy aims to:

support an increase in the quality, volume and reach of digital content and experiences from the arts and cultural sector for artistic, economic and audience development and growth.

The main focus of this policy is not cultural learning, but there are a number of elements that are relevant, including the launch of a Research and Development funding stream.

The policy defines Creative Media as artistic and cultural works and content that are created for digital platforms and/or distributed digitally to engage the public.

It is relevant to all artforms and sets out 9 key development areas of which ‘Audience engagement and learning’ is one. This section outlines a focus on participation, co-production and learning and on encouraging arts organisations to develop creative media that can engage audiences of all ages, building knowledge and deepening understanding.

The newly launched Digital R&D Fund for the Arts (July 2012-March 2015) will provide one of the sources of funding for this work, though the paper helpfully signposts a number of others, including the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Digital R and D fund is structured under a number of themes including:

  • Education and learning

Developing interactive education and learning resources for children, teachers, young people, adult learners and arts sector professionals.