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
Sebastian CaterHead of UK Theatre and Workforce Development, 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
Sarah Mears and Liz McMillanProgramme Manager, Libraries Connected / Libraries and Culture Services Manager, Slough Borough Council 


Central co-ordination team:

Anna DeverHead of Campaign
Rukhsana JahangirCampaign Manager
Sophie EvansDigital Marketing Manager
Anna O’ConnorDigital Marketing Support Officer

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Case study: Fantastic for Families Award Winners 2020 – Circus250

Circus250’s ‘StrongWomen Science’ thoroughly impressed the judges of last year’s Fantastic for Families Awards, with their combination of creativity and ingenuity creating a powerful show where cartwheels meet science. Dr Dea Birkett, Ringmaster of Circus250, shares with us the impact of winning Best Family Event.

Edinburgh Science Festival – StrongWomen Science, photo credit Ian Georgeson

It was a bit noisy in the rehearsal room, where we were working on our new ecology show Breathe. Circus to Make You Gasp, when we told the team that we’d won Best Family Event in the Family Arts Award. Circus people aren’t quiet and tend to express excitement with a cartwheel as well as a whoop, so we had half an hour of joyous tumbling before settling down to concentrate on the new tricks again. We were so thrilled and very proud. We put the Best Family Event digital medal up as the header on our Twitter and Facebook pages. It’s still there.

To be honest, we didn’t think we had a chance. We’re a small circus company that creates and tours ‘circus with purpose’ – bringing live performances and workshops to families and places that may not have experienced them before. We’re particularly interested in challenging boundaries between science and art – most of our work comes under the title of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Maths). Our premiere show is StrongWomen Science – a circus science show for families by two scientists turned circus performers. The show – and the accompanying workshops – don’t only convey scientific facts in fun and accessible ways. We celebrate the power of teamwork and importance of failure, shared by science and circus. And we particularly target families with young girls, whom more traditional science shows have trouble attracting. So we weren’t a regular family show. In addition, no science show had won the Award before. So winning came as a complete surprise. It felt as if our approach to both circus and science was being spotlighted and accepted as part of the broad family offer.

Edinburgh Science Festival – StrongWomen Science, photo credit Ian Georgeson

It immediately made a huge difference to how we could promote and disseminate our work. Who doesn’t like to book an ‘award winning’ show? More importantly, it sent out a message to venues – including museums, theatres, libraries, community halls and festivals – that you didn’t have to ‘do’ either science or art, either as a performance company nor, by implication, as a child. You can do both, enjoy both, and be ambitious in both. It’s a fabulous and wonderful irony that an organisation called the Family Arts Campaign was brave enough to lead the way in recognising that.

In a tough year for live performance, with few opportunities to celebrate, winning this Award helped to give us hope and carry on doing what we believe in. It confirmed to us, as much as to our audiences and participants, that what we do is worthwhile and has meaningful, positive impact.

As live performance slowly returns, it might be time for us to make a change – to take down our Best Family Event 2020 medal from our social media headers. Winning the Award gave us a platform to stand on through hard and challenging times. It’s time for us to leap from it with the strength of the Award behind us. We look forward to making more challenging, purposeful family-friendly performance in the knowledge that it’s important not only to us, but to all of you.

Dr Dea Birkett, Ringmaster, Circus250

Inspired to apply for the Fantastic for Families Awards 2021? Read more here and send us your application!

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