What is the Campaign about?

Welsh language information

The Family Arts Campaign is a national Sector Support Organisation funded by Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 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.

Logos of consortium partners: AMA, CVAN, ITS, One Dance UK, Society of London Theatre, UK Theatre, The Albany, Kids in Museums, ABO, The Audience Agency


The campaign is overseen by a Project Board:

Helen Featherstone (Chair)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
Anne TorreggianiExecutive Director, The Audience Agency
Karla Barnacle-Best CEO, Discover Children’s Story Centre
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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Award-Winning “Playtime” at the Whitworth

Winning Best Event at the Fantastic for Families awards meant a lot to the Whitworth, say’s their Early Years Coordinator, Lucy Turner. Here she tells us all about their award-winning event Playtime.

Playtime 2018 was a bit of an experiment, it was the first year we had tried something completely different and adopted a new way of approaching our summer family programme. Instead of the usual artist led workshops ‘Playtime’ explored the art of play with a range of free family activities designed for all, from babies and toddlers through to teens and grandparents. It took on a more open ended approach with child-led activities that could be enjoyed at a family’s own pace and that would encourage repeat visits and a deeper engagement with the gallery.

Playtime at the Whitworth is fantastic! The team have been so welcoming and accommodating. It’s so well thought out and suitable for babies, tots and older children. We’ll be back!

The activities included a Sand Pit Studio, giant garden games in our Art Garden, easels to draw, a rubbings table to create wallpaper designs and Islamic inspired floor pattern blocks making all the gallery and outdoor spaces interactive and engaging for a family audience.

The easels and sandpit were a big hit and made the experience really interactive. My 5 year old didn’t want to leave and keeps asking when they are going to be able to go back!

Teens could step into our specially commissioned Minecraft digital gallery as well as enjoy free creative workshops especially designed for 11-16 year olds.

Babies and their parents/carers could drop into a sensory play area that was available all day every day to meet, chat and play.

Playtime aimed to open up the Whitworth’s spaces both inside and out to be more welcoming to the communities that surround it. Over the 6 week summer holiday period Playtime engaged a phenomenal 26,400 family visitors which completely transformed the spaces, the galleries were absolutely buzzing with families enjoying a more relaxed approach to their summer activities.

As a father of 4 all different ages I find it very difficult to find appropriate activities for all and you guys have provided it in spades and right on my doorstep and for free. I have visited almost everyday throughout the summer holidays.

Banners on the railings outside the gallery and in the park and outreach at local festivals and schools prior to the event helped to spread the word to the local community and encouraged a noticeably more diverse audience.

A 3-tiered engagement approach helped to encourage new and sustainable audiences. The garden games outside attracted passing members of the local area to join in. The Sand Pit Studio encouraged families inside the building and when visitors were then told of the games and interventions in the galleries, this encouraged movement and a deeper engagement with the gallery spaces and artworks on display.

The summer activities and games are just fantastic! Whitworth is just the most inclusive (by housing all this for free) and offers an opportunity to new generations to reconnect and reclaim play time (instead of time in front of screens!) Grandma

We were all really proud of what we had achieved over the summer and the win at the Fantastic for Families awards really put the icing on the cake. The whole organisation celebrated the award and it really gave Playtime the credit it deserved. This success allowed us to start thinking about Playtime as a regular programme and about what Playtime 2019 might look like.  It was decided that, as the first year was sand, this year the theme just had to be water. The whole organisation got behind the planning and the problem solving of how we could make the theme of water a reality.

The success of 2018 and the Fantastic for Families award attracted interest from partners and in 2019 we collaborated with outdoor play specialists Pentagon Play who provided us with beautiful water play equipment, including water walls, water tables and channels to inspire learning through play. This mixed with the usual outdoor garden games and interventions inside the building meant that we again are celebrating a really successful summer with 30,205 family visitors over the 6 week period. A 29% increase on last year, on top of a 44% increase on the previous year.

Thanks really does go to Fantastic for Families for seeing the potential in the Playtime programme, we’re already looking forward to seeing what Playtime 2020 might have in store!

Applying for a Fantastic for Families Award

Organisations who list their events on the Fantastic for Families listings website will be eligible to self-nominate for a Fantastic for Families Award.

Awards are judged by a panel of experts and include votes from members of the public.

Details of the next awards application will be released in 2020. Sign up to the Family Arts Campaign mailing list (below) to remain up-to-date.

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