What is the Campaign about?

Welsh language information

The Family Arts Campaign is a national Sector Support Organisation funded by Arts Council England to raise family engagement with arts and culture.

Since our beginnings in 2012, we have focused on three main areas of work:

  • Increasing the amount and range of artistic work available to families
  • Increasing the quality of experience for families
  • Improving marketing to reach more families

We are here to support National Portfolio Organisations, museums, libraries, community groups, individuals, and anyone else looking to better connect families with arts and culture.

You can take part by signing up to the free Family Arts Standards and Age-Friendly Standards quality-marks, by attending training and events, or accessing our online resources library. You can also promote all of your family and age-friendly events for free as part of our Fantastic for Families  campaign.

Who is running the Campaign?

We are a cross-sector and cross-artform initiative steered by a consortium of ten organisations and trade bodies. Our lead partner organisation is The Albany.

Association of British OrchestrasIndependent Theatre CouncilSociety of London TheatreUK THEATRE_CORE_rgb_100
Kids in Museums 


The campaign is overseen by a Project Board:

Helen Featherstone Deputy Director, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Cassie ChaddertonHead of UK Theatre & Membership Development, UK Theatre
Charlotte JonesChief Executive, Independent Theatre Council
Cath HumeExecutive Director, Arts Marketing Association
Robert O’DowdChief Executive, Rose Theatre Kingston
Gavin BarlowChief Executive/Artistic Director, The Albany
Matthew SwannChief Executive, City of London Sinfonia
Mark PembertonDirector, Association of British Orchestras
Katy SpicerChief Executive & Artistic Director, efdss
Anne TorreggianiExecutive Director, The Audience Agency
Karla Barnacle-BestCEO, Discover Children’s Story Centre
Paula Graham-GazzardNational Coordinator, Contemporary Visual Arts Network
Alison Bowyer and Laura BedfordExecutive Director and Head of Programmes, Kids in Museums

Central co-ordination is led by a small team:

Anna DeverHead of Campaign
Clair DonnellyProject Manager
Rukhsana JahangirFamily Arts Network Coordinator

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Just So Festival: secrets to an award-winning summer event

Just So Festival cr. TenEight for Wild Rumpus

In Just So’s tenth birthday year, founders Sarah Bird and Rowan Hoban tell us all about the Festival and what winning a Fantastic for Families Best Family Event Award 2019 meant to them.

We were thrilled that Just So Festival won the Best Family Event at the Fantastic for Families Awards this year. Just So is all about families having the best possible experience together, so to have won the Best Family Event award is a huge achievement for the whole team. It’s even better as we’re celebrating Just So’s tenth birthday this year.

Just So is an imaginative outdoor family festival on the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire. With a love of stories and childhood escapades at its heart, Just So enables families to step out of their day-to-day lives and into a wonderland of world-class theatre, literature, dance, music, and comedy. We take audiences on a unique expedition to lands full of magical midnight feasts, curious creatures and hidden retreats. 

When we set up Just So ten years ago we were both parents who wanted to spend more time experiencing culture with our families, but found a real lack of quality events to go to. We’d take our kids to art galleries only to find ourselves hissing at them to be quiet, or we’d go to a book festival and get stuck in the kids area all day without seeing anything for ourselves. We knew that it all had to change. We met at a local book club and kept saying ‘someone needs to do something about this!’ And so we did it ourselves.

From the very first festival ten years ago, Just So has always been about the whole family enjoying things together. This doesn’t mean that we’re putting the kids in a corner with some sticky craft activities, but that every single thing we programme is for children and adults to enjoy as a family. We wanted kids and grown ups to be able to listen to stories around the campfire and laugh together, or watch jaw-dropping circus which would have everyone spellbound.

Just So Festival – Spellbound Forest cr. Andrew Allcock

Setting up a family festival from scratch hasn’t been without its difficulties. The first problem that we encountered was finding the right site where we could make it happen. Fortunately by the third Just So we’d found the perfect place; the Rode Hall estate in Cheshire. You couldn’t dream up a more perfect festival site. There’s a huge area of open parkland, a wood with beautiful glades, the gorgeous Rode Lake, and lots of room to grow and try out our big ideas.

We’ve also learnt a lot about the kinds of things that people want to see over the three days. They want small, intimate experiences, but they also want something big that unifies everyone on site; by the fourth Just So, the Tribal Tournament was born. It’s the most bonkers part of the festival. Audiences dress up as different animal tribes and compete to win golden pebbles for their team, before coming together for the Tribal Tournament parade and the crowning of the winning team. This mad idea has turned into one of our favourite parts of Just So because it embodies the whole idea of the festival – bringing people together to have an unforgettable time in the great outdoors.

It’s really easy to get bogged down in the logistical elements of family events (the baby change facilities, catering, timings, costs, etc) and all that has to be in place to make the event feel seamless, but the really exciting stuff is when you add on incredible performances and find the magic, the surprises, the stuff that will take people’s breath away and make them suspend their disbelief or look at the world with fresh wonder in their eyes.

Just So is always growing and developing as we learn, and this year is going to be the best yet as it’s our 10th birthday. There will be several new areas to explore including a stunning Fire Garden set among the trees of a brand-new orchard, and the mysterious Garden of Delight which is in part of the Rode Hall estate that has never been open to the festival audience before. We’ve also created a new area called Wonderland, with author talks, music workshops and night-time DJ sets.

We’re so proud to have won the Best Family Event award because it acknowledges the hard work that the Wild Rumpus team puts in all year round to make Just So the magical event that it’s become. We can’t wait for the next ten years!

Read the full list of Fantastic for Families 2019 Award Winners

Add your listings to Fantastic for Families

Just So Festival takes place on the Rode Hall estate in Cheshire from Friday 16 – Sunday 18 August 2019. Limited tickets are on sale now at justsofestival.org.uk at tier three prices, from £50 for children’s (aged 3 – 15) weekend camping tickets to £145 for adults. Saturday day tickets are fully sold out, but there is still some limited availability for Friday and Sunday day tickets, as well as weekend without camping tickets.

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