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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Travelling Light Theatre Company: supporting its local community through creativity

Selection of craft materials with wooden spoon with a painted face

Creativity and imagination are more important than ever to the wellbeing of children and their families, and during this difficult time of isolation and social distancing, charitable arts organisations have been finding new ways to support their communities.

For Bristol-based theatre company and children’s charity, Travelling Light, it has been about listening to the needs of children and families in its local community, and then responding in creative ways to support them in the best way it can.

Here, Heidi Vaughan, Artistic Director of Travelling Light, tells us more about how they have been responding to needs in their community and what they’ve learnt so far.

 

Woman standing in front of Travelling Light van, holding three boxes and wearing a mask

Sparking children’s imaginations with story-based activity boxes

Continuing our mission to inspire and fire the imaginations of young people, we have been working hard to bring creativity directly into people’s homes, with both offline and online activities, which help young people to experience, share and create stories.

One of those activities has been distributing story-based creative activity boxes to families in our local community, providing offline creative opportunities to children within their own homes.

The boxes came about primarily from a direct community ask from our local family centre. Many families in our local community in Barton Hill have been particularly impacted by social distancing, with many living in high rise flats with little space to play. One of our local key workers said to us: “so we’re managing to provide food and some clothing and some support, but what we’re finding now is that young people are needing more than just a screen for entertainment.”

We responded to this direct community need that was coming from local families asking for arts and craft materials for their children. And as an organisation that is all about providing creative opportunities for children and young people, we wanted to offer a quality artistic experience. That is why we commissioned the wonderful artist, Edwina Bridgeman, to curate the packs. And we chose quality materials that felt like a gift rather than materials that one might just assemble in a flat pack.

“At this time when there are all kinds of challenges, to be able to give a very humble gift to a child to allow them to play is very important – and we know the importance of play in terms of wellbeing and health – and the key role of creativity within children’s health and wellbeing – and this is a gift that enables them to do that.”

 

Crafted stick people with wool hair

 

What materials have you included in the boxes?

It’s a box of ideas – it’s materials that are fascinating in some way.

It was important to use white boxes, as they act as a blank canvas. And there’s no big instruction manual, there’s simply a sheet inside the boxes with some drawings of different things that can be made out of the boxes, to give some ideas.

There’s a strong narrative element – so we have a bird, and a person, and a little scene and then alongside that are a wealth of materials, which the families can use to make what they would like. There’s wool, bright sparkly pipe cleaners, there’s masking tape, there’s reflective sequin materials and thick quality materials, wood, paper and paint.

Each box is a free invitation with the materials for children to let their imaginations run wild. It’s a chance to make and play and then remake and play again. These don’t need to be static activities where there is a clear end point – they can be assembled and recreated numerous times.

As a storytelling company, ‘the child’ has always been at the heart of Travelling Light’s work and the little figurines we have included are very child-like, so your main character and narrative is a child. We’re hoping to empower these children – in seeing themselves reflected back in these little figurines.

 

Response so far

The response so far has been great. After making our first batch of 120 boxes for distribution by our Family Centre at the Wellspring Settlement, we were contacted by Barton Hill Activity Club and a local primary school, asking if we could make more boxes for the children and families they support. So far we’ve now made over 300 activity boxes for our local community.

Our Family Centre said “Thank you to all who helped in making this happen – it is amazing to hear how much the families are enjoying the packs – thank you! One parent who was really struggling with home schooling found the art boxes a great way for her child to engage in something he enjoys and find his creative side. It’s a project of his own ideas doing his own design”.

Our next stage is to create some bespoke boxes for young people with additional needs – which will sit alongside our online offer. There has been a compelling need to create more work for these young people in particular who have arguably been feeling the impact of lockdown the greatest.

 

Key learnings

It’s a challenge to think of theatre outside its traditional form whilst also serving our audience with a positive and meaningful offer. But this act of play and creation, with pieces of a story puzzle placed within it, is theatre on a very small scale. Theatre that comes into people’s homes and isn’t authored or prescribed by anyone other than the child.

This provokes some big thinking around what we as an organisation need to be right now and how we can place our audience at the heart of our work.

For now the act of creating, step by step, doing one good thing after another is serving us well – giving conversations within our community the chance to rise to the surface. Listening, really listening. So, on we go one foot in front of the other. Step by step.

Travelling Light is grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund Awards for All funding for supporting this work.

 

Travelling Light logo of a green suitcase

Travelling Light creates outstanding theatre for and with young people that inspires their thinking, engages their emotions and fires their imaginations. Over the last 35 years, Travelling Light has sparked the creative journey of over one million young people in its locality of Barton Hill, throughout Bristol and beyond.

It relies on its funders, donors, supporters and Friends to enable it to keep inspiring thousands of children and young people through theatre. Find out more on their website.

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