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
Paula OrrellDirector, Contemporary Visual Arts Network
Frederick HopkinsHead of Business Development and Membership, One Dance UK


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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Sadler’s Wells: inspiring and connecting with families through a participatory digital offer

Woman stretches. In the background small children dance below a string of coloured bunting

Sadler’s Wells was one of the first arts organisations to offer participatory online creative content for families. Here, Joce Giles, Director of Learning & Education, tells us how they went about developing their online sessions.

When Sadler’s Wells made the difficult decision to close our theatres due to the Coronavirus pandemic, cancelling all performances on 16 March, we also had to suspend all our participatory and education activities, which included regular sessions for families with young children. Discussions in the Learning and Engagement team immediately turned to what we could do to inspire and stay connected with people through dance, during the challenging situation that was rapidly developing.

Working in collaboration with Sadler’s Wells’ Content and Audiences team, we were able to develop ideas at great speed for what a participatory digital offer might look like, and how this could be a key way in which the organisation remained engaged with audiences while our theatres were closed, and a means of developing our digital activity.


“Feedback from parents highlighted the value of taking part.”

We first began offering creative workshops for families with young children at Sadler’s Wells in 2018, with our monthly Family Fridays sessions, activity which has since expanded to include targeted sessions in community settings in east London. The sessions have been incredibly popular and the feedback from parents and carers who attend highlighted the value of taking part in high quality creative sessions led by a professional dance artist.

When we were discussing the format for the online family workshops, we decided that a series of pre-recorded, themed sessions made available as a playlist on YouTube would work best. Having two young children myself, I know that being able to join in activities that are happening live at certain times of the day, or following a series of sessions in order is not always viable, so we decided to make all of the workshops available for people to dip into at any time and in any order they wished.

We are very fortunate to work with a fantastic dance artist called Cherie Coleman in our regular family dance sessions, and she was quickly on board to develop the online workshops. Within two days of our closure, we had developed a plan for our online sessions. The first set of five family workshops went live on YouTube on 1st April and the complete set of sessions were available from the following week – a very quick turnaround! Ten family workshops for children aged 2 – 6 years were created, with themed activities including textures, shapes, sounds, and colours, and storytelling sessions based on fairy-tales like Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.


“Being able to join in activities at certain times of the day is not always viable.”

As part of the organisation’s wider digital programme during this period, we also launched Sadler’s Wells Facebook Premieres, through which we stream a full-length dance production for online audiences every week. On Friday 3rd April, the featured performance was Rumpelstiltskin by balletLorent – a charming production for families and young audiences. Normally, the productions are screened in the evening, but for Rumpelstiltskin we presented it as a matinee at 3pm, so that it was live at the best time for its families, while also using the opportunity to promote our online family workshops to a really relevant audience.

Our main priority when launching the online workshops was being able to make high quality content available within a very short timeframe, and what is really exciting is that thousands of people have already viewed the films. Although so much about the future is up in the air at this time, it is clear the progress we have made with our digital programme should not stop once we are able to restart our face to face sessions. The family workshops we deliver at Sadler’s Wells have a maximum capacity of 10 families and are always fully booked. While we can’t wait to start these sessions again and work directly with participants in our own theatre, we will undoubtedly look to develop and refine our digital offering.

These sessions have been developed during the most challenging of times and has really fast-tracked ideas for how we can inspire and engage people through online participation. These are difficult times for everyone, but it has been hugely rewarding to work across our organisation to make this happen, and I’m optimistic about how we continue to develop our digital family programme for future audiences, alongside our face to face activities.

All online family workshops can be found online at the Sadler’s Wells YouTube Channel at this link to the playlists. Full details of the Sadler’s Wells online programme ‘Digital Stage’ can be found on its website.


Joce Giles is Director of Learning & Education at Sadler’s Wells

Headshot of Joce Giles

cr. Jason Dimmock



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