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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Culture Mile Play Packs: ideas, inspiration and materials for families on lockdown

Pack dontents layed out on the floor including postcards, crayons and coloured paper

Over lockdown, the City of London Family Arts Network have been working with Culture Mile to deliver Play Packs to local families, via foodbanks and community centres. We spoke to Anna Casey, Producer for Beyond Barbican / Culture Mile, to find out what inspired the project and how it has been received by families.

Why we started making Play Packs

Culture Mile is the City of London’s cultural district, stretching from Farringdon to Moorgate. Led by the City of London Corporation, with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London, its five core partners work together on creating a vibrant, creative area in the north-west corner of the Square Mile. Usually, this would mean a Summer packed full of public events, from large-scale family festivals for up to 20,000 people, to bespoke events with local residents such as family days and creative workshops.

In March, it began looking increasingly obvious that our Summer wasn’t going to take the shape we had planned, and we began conversations with our local communities about what was needed to support those around us.

We heard from our local partners (children’s play services and a community centre & foodbank) that some families in their networks were on lockdown with limited access to the internet, outdoor space, play equipment & creative materials.

We wanted to pool the resources of our partners to deliver something to these families that they could access at home, that would build creative confidence and encourage all kids of creative play, without needing loads of materials, and that families could use in ways that worked for them.

Putting the packs together

Pack 1 was a pilot, to deliver something quickly to families in need, utilising content we had quick access to, and working out how to pack and deliver the packs under the conditions of the lockdown.

We wanted every activity to be able to be completed with the materials provided, things people would already have at home, or no materials at all. We also wanted to include activities that could be done multiple times or in different ways, to give families as much to do as possible. So working with the Culture Mile core partners as well as the City Family Arts Network, Culture Mile Learning Network and other artists and partners in our networks, we curated a selection of activity sheets and ‘Playful Prompts’ – a set of cards in each pack which contain open-ended suggestions for play, games, making etc.

We also included a range of art supplies (glue sticks, chalk, pencils, crayons, stickers & coloured paper) so people could make their own creations too!

We are now producing one pack a month, with more bespoke content curated around specific themes, and have scaled up distribution massively from the 500 packs in the pilot – we are delivering 2000 of the July packs across City of London, Islington, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Southwark, Wandsworth, Camden and Waltham Forest.

Staff members standing among trolleys and boxes

Socially distant packing…

…was definitely a challenge! But with masks and gloves at the ready, we set up socially distant stations at Barbican Centre, and staff from across the organisation helped out with collating the materials for each pack. We then organised delivery of the packs via cycle couriers to keep the process as green as possible. We also have our own cargo bike (called “Culture Myles”) who was extremely useful when doing the local deliveries.

The packs went to families via food banks, local estates, community centres, schools, clothes & toy banks and other services in City of London & our neighbouring boroughs.

Woman and man both riding bike with large blue delivery boxFeedback & future plans

We have had some fantastic feedback from families so far, mostly via our distribution partners. One thing that has been great is hearing how people are using the materials in their own ways –

“one of our young lads who I wasn’t totally sure would be into the packs absolutely lit up when he told me he used it to make his grandad a birthday card” – Distribution partner, Golden Lane Estate

We also had feedback from a parent who said –

“My two boys liked cards with different tasks the most. And I also liked them, in the last 3-4 days when I have no ideas how to entertain them I use those cards.”

We’ve also included stamped addressed postcards which families can design themselves and send back to us with ideas for their own prompts, to be included in future packs.

Over the next few weeks we’re also conducting some more in depth phone interviews with families who have been receiving packs, and planning how to continue working with the new audience of local families as we move forward and the rules of the lockdown change. It’s been great to be able to work with our partners in the community to get these resources to families who wouldn’t otherwise have them, showcase the work of our partners and provide materials that can be used for our activities and beyond!

As well as the physical packs, anyone can access the Play Pack content online, here.

Unfolded green box-folder with printed instructions, crayons, string and a "Let's Dance" activity sheet

To find out more about how to join or start a local Family Arts Network please visit our Networks page.

You can find more case studies in our resources library.

To promote your at-home creative activities to families, please visit fantasticforfamilies.com.

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