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
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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Creating a family-friendly venue, guided by local families: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Fantastic for Families Award 2020 Case Studies

We’re pleased to bring you a series of Case Studies from this year’s Shortlisted Organisations for the Fantastic for Families Awards.

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is one of five UK venues shortlisted for this year’s Best Family Venue category.

A woman, young girl and man are adding crafted card heart shapes to a large world map

The National Maritime Museum is a local and national museum and wants to be a useful, relevant space for the local community. It has been the aim for several years to increase the presence of families at the Museum and to increase their confidence to share what they want and need from their Museum. We have found ways to provide families a platform and have taken steps to follow feedback and make the Museum more family friendly.

What are we doing?

In 2015 the Museum opened ‘AHOY! Children’s Gallery’ for under-7s. Working with early years specialists, the Museum consulted with families about the gallery’s content and format. The result is a space that is differentiated according to child development stages and that encourages exploration of the Museum’s themes and collection using imagery, hands-on activities, and imaginary play. The addition of the AHOY! gallery visibly brought more early years families into the Museum.

Families actively collaborate on museum programming. In 2017 an extensive evaluation of the programme that spoke to local visiting and non-visiting families was used to direct the strategy. For instance, families wanted trails around permanent galleries. In 2018-19 we consulted on, developed and tested self-led trails with local families. Working with Sally Davies and Lucy McDonald we ran consultation sessions to discover how families wanted to explore the Museum. Many assumptions about the way families might engage with a trail were overturned, including that they wanted a specified route through exhibitions. These trails now form a popular part of the daily offer.

‘Sensory Explorers’, a toolkit for sensory, self-led, exploration was developed by Creative Producer Vicky Cave in collaboration with local early years and SEND families. This project recognised that several of our older galleries didn’t lend themselves to sensory engagement, which was particularly important to these audiences. Working with local families we experimented with different tools and activities to create a kit that supported a tactile Museum journey.

Since implementing this kit, more SEND families have been sharing their needs with us. In 2019 families with neurodiverse children reached out asking whether the sensory environment of ‘The Moon’ exhibition would be a barrier to their visit. After consulting with the Greenwich branch of the National Autistic Society and Autism in Museums, we determined that a relaxed exhibition opening, with some changes to the environment would best welcome these families. This involved teams across the Museum working to consider lighting, interactives, sound, and conservation. Ongoing feedback has led the Museum to review accessibility for these families and begin the process of becoming ‘Autism Friendly’, with more relaxed openings planned.

The Learning team’s community development strategy looks at audiences as communities of people, place, identity and interest. This has led to a focus on supporting family identities often underrepresented in the Museum, for instance with the LGBTQ+ Family Network. Families at the annual LGBT History Month family event, ‘Out at Sea’, were looking for LGBTQ+ programming throughout the year and the opportunity to meet other LGBTQ+ families in a safe, welcoming space. The LGBTQ+ Family Network runs bi-monthly and provides a safe space for families to socialise, engage with the collection, and comment on the Museum and its programming.

Finally, we want to be a welcoming space for all families and have responded to calls to share our commitment to those who are breastfeeding. Working with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, we have created a manifesto and ensure all our staff buy into the Breastfeeding Friendly Scheme.

Next steps

Lockdown was a striking time to re-evaluate our purpose and our audiences’ changed needs. Lockdown clarified the impact that digital resources can have for audiences who can’t visit, ensuring they remain able to connect with their community and have active, collection-based learning experiences. The increased presence of learning resources on the Museum’s digital channels opened the collection to more families, including those who had not previously visited the Museum.

Going forward, online engagement is something we are keen to maintain and develop, ensuring not only that the Museum is family friendly and accessible, but that digital access to the museum and collections is too.

Being shortlisted for the Best Family Venue award will have a huge impact on our future plans. Not only does it demonstrate the museum’s ongoing commitment to families, it will encourage more families to actively engage in the shaping of their local museum, creating a deeper sense of ownership.

Our Top Tips

  • Give permission by creating opportunities for co-curation: families want to take ownership of spaces to make them more useful, relevant and engaging to themselves, but they feel like they need to be invited to participate.
  • Target your projects: Families are busy and need to feel like the outcome is worth the challenges of participating. Take time to find families who will benefit and who will be invested in the project.

Case Study by Katie Cassels, Family Programmes Producer for Royal Museums Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum explores Britain’s relationship to the sea. Visitors discover histories of exploration and encounter that have shaped the UK and the world.

The Family Programme uses collections to encourage encounter with other cultures, to start conversations, and to develop confidence. Katie has managed the Family Programme since 2018.

Find out more about the National Maritime Museum here: www.rmg.co.uk

Or contact Katie at kcassels@rmg.co.uk

 

Find more Case Studies from the Fantastic For Families Awards Shortlist >

Add your event listings to the Fantastic for Families website >

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