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.

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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Fabrica gallery on their award-winning Age-Friendly Welcome

Second Sight workshop for visually impaired participants at ‘On Balance’ by Jacob Dahlgren at Fabrica. 2014. Cr. Eva Kalpadaki

Winning the Best Age-Friendly Welcome Award at the Fantastic for Families Awards this year was the cherry on top of an amazing 10 years of honing and developing creative work with older people at Fabrica. It was recognition of an organisation-wide achievement which has improved and impacted how the gallery works with people as a whole.

Clare Hankinson, Fabrica’s Audience Development Manager, talks us through their journey so far.

Fabrica is a contemporary art gallery based in a former Regency church in Brighton. We commission exhibitions to support and encourage emerging and established artists to develop their creative practices, to test boundaries and encourage open dialogue with audiences in the gallery. Our integrated programme of education and activity strives to remove the barriers to arts engagement for the widest audience possible, working with professional artists and facilitators to maintain high quality experiences for all.

Growing an Older Audience was an innovative arts engagement programme commissioned by Arts Council South East, initiated in 2009. Through a complex and diverse programme of exhibitions and events, it engaged a 70+ audience – at risk of social detachment – with cutting-edge contemporary visual art. We have continued to see its impact on our programme of exhibitions, events and projects to this day, as it changed our organisational approach not only to working with older people, but with people of all ages and walks of life.

A Fabrica Volunteer talks to visitors at ‘Putting Ourselves in the Picture’ at Fabrica. 2019. Cr. Phoebe Wingrove

We have a holistic approach to audience development, and it reaches every part of our organisation. We’ve embedded better understanding and awareness within our staff team as to some of the barriers that older people face when accessing the arts, and have embraced new methodologies, training and partnerships. Our volunteer team of approximately 150 people now has more older people taking part and contributing to our organisation.

Practical approaches to access and making our welcome warm have also added to our successes. We have developed a diverse and stimulating programme of free and low-cost daytime events, offering several different access points to our engagement programme, whether motivated by a keen interest in art or through seeking out social interaction or by addressing an access need. For example, Going to See Culture Together provides monthly outings to cultural venues in the city/region for socially isolated older people. Facilitator Jonathan Quarterman supports the group to attend enjoyable, unusual events and experiences of their choosing, whilst also ensuring accessibility and affordability for all. This has cemented a strong following and trust in Fabrica.

Doing all of this successfully has taken time, patience and commitment, but has been well worth it. We are now more open and considerate to needs of not only older people but all our visitors.

Drawing and Making with dementia session at Brooke Mead Extra Care Housing Scheme

Intertwined with this, we have commissioned several ground-breaking artworks as part of our artistic programme that considered issues around ageing, agency and ageism. Into That Good Night was a five year programme of exhibitions and events which considered aspects of death and dying. The input and reflections of our older audiences around much of this work has been invaluable, as they have given insight, critique and support to often challenging and provocative subjects. This autumn we are presenting another commission, this time a response to ground-breaking research being undertaken by University of Brighton, University of Birmingham and University of Lincolnshire that looks at the experiences of older people receiving care which they pay for themselves. Care(less) by artist Lindsay Seers has produced an immersive virtual reality experience which draws into a state of the aged: a state in which we can quickly become invisible.

We are immensely proud of our work with older people and in creating a platform for conversation and recognition of the issues surrounding this part of life. This award has been an opportunity to take a moment to reflect on our achievements but also drives us on to continue pushing ourselves; to make meaningful, lifelong connections with individuals, maintain the dialogue, and to make considerate, brave and creative decisions across the organisation.

Care(less) is open until 24 November 2019 – entry is free


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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