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 FeatherstoneDeputy Director, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Hannah GagenAdvocacy Manager, Society of London Theatre / 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 Swann (Interim Chair)Chief 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
Rose CopseyCommunications Manager, Contemporary Visual Arts Network

 

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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Baby Broadway: how to interact with an audience that isn’t in the same room as you

Two small children watch a musician and a puppet on a TV screen

There is a wealth of content available for those looking to engage in creativity at home but the interactive and social sides of entertainment are still as important as ever. Anna Unwin, Founder of Baby Broadway & Baby Gospel, tells us how the company is facilitating creative interaction with families in an isolated world.

Under normal circumstances, I produce concerts for families with young children. We create 45 minutes of live entertainment where parents and carers can enjoy a slice of West End singing in a relaxed environment, and little ones can sing, dance, cry, or roll around whilst interacting with top performers. There are no key workers involved, just a lot of key changes.

But since mid-March, the live entertainment industry has fallen dark around us. So many of my regular performers – professional actors and musicians – have no work for the foreseeable future. One of my singers has gone from being the lead in The Wedding Singer to working in Sainsbury’s. Some were about to open in West End shows like Pretty Woman or 101 Dalmations, others watched exciting overseas opportunities slip away overnight. There’s deep uncertainty around when the theatre industry will be back up and running properly, and indeed which theatres will survive. According to a new survey conducted by SOLT and UK Theatre, approximately 2 out of 3 theatres across the UK will need additional support from the government in order to continue if lockdown measures continue past 31 May.

 

“I hoped to bring a little joy into families’ homes during this strange new lockdown life.”

I wanted to try and give some of my performers some work (hopefully a little income) and perhaps a welcome distraction during a worrying time. I also hoped to bring a little joy and light relief into families’ homes, if they were looking for it, during this strange new lockdown life.

A man and woman pose to camera. She is playing a piccolo, he is playing a trombone.

So, like many other companies, I turned to an online platform to host Baby Broadway concerts. I was now at home with two children under 5 to look after, and somehow had even less time in a day than I thought possible; there was no way I could do this alone. A crack team of four of my performers formed (virtually) around me, and between us we worked out sound set ups, technical integrations*, musical logistics and how to interact with an audience that isn’t in the same room as you!

Incredibly, we managed to translate the essence of our live shows to a virtual space, whilst creating something new. Performances are slightly shorter but nearly every song is upbeat – too many ballads wouldn’t keep young attention spans when there are other distractions at home. Then there’s the interactive element; more of the songs than usual have some sort of interactive element to keep online audiences engaged.

 

“Hosting performances live over Zoom means we can still see families joining in and encourage participation.”

Audience interaction always plays a large part of our ‘real life’ live concerts with bubbles, marches round the room, puppetry and occasional props. Hosting performances live over Zoom means we can still see families joining in and encourage participation, like flying babies in the air to ‘Let’s Go Fly A Kite’. It’s wonderful to see families dancing together or children up close to the screen reacting to our puppets.

Unlike a pre-recorded broadcast there’s perhaps comfort in the fact that audience members can get a glimpse into other people’s lives (often with equally chaotic kids and messy floors – or is that just me?). That also goes for children, who look out for their friends or family members joining the session and love hearing their names mentioned by the performers.

So many incredible arts organisations have offered their content for free to help fill the cultural void left by the lockdown. But people need the interactive and social sides of entertainment too, and we hope that Baby Broadway audience members feel they are sharing a fun experience with other people, just briefly, in an isolated world.

 

Baby Broadway family concerts are open to all ages (recommended 0 – 8) and are currently running online every Tuesday and Friday at 11am. Tickets and information at www.babybroadway.co.uk

* It has to be mentioned that without the wonderful platform and help of Happity, who list family classes and events, this would have taken us a lot longer to set up.

 

 

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