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:

Matthew Swann(Interim chair) Chief Executive, City of London Sinfonia
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
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
Daniela GerstmannDigital Marketing Officer

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Case study: Fantastic for Families Award Winners 2020 – DCA

In 2020, Dundee Contemporary Arts won the Fantastic for Families Impact Award for work with Art at the Start, which aimed to expand the 0-3s audience, support vulnerable families and explore the benefits of art making for young children. 

Vicky Armstrong, PhD student, and Sarah Derrick, DCA Head of Learning, reflect on what this has meant to their work. 

Photographed by David P Scott. All rights reserved. www.davidpscott.com

The shortlisting for the award came at a very unsettled time for us in 2020, as we tried to reach families while the gallery remained closed. It was such a boost to have a good news story about our Learning activity and work with Art at the Start at an otherwise difficult time. It was hugely encouraging for our focus on the early years and gave us increased confidence as we adapted to keep engaging young families during the pandemic. It has never felt more important for galleries to reach out to the communities they serve. 

The Art at the Start project is a collaboration with University of Dundee psychology researchers, so this award really helped to show the benefits of this partnership in being able to evidence what we are doing. The award-recognition has also helped the team in making further applications for funding, which have maintained and expanded their work. It was definitely beneficial to have national visibility for our work via the Award, the case study on Fantastic for Families website and also being invited to take part in a UK webinar on ways to engage families. 

Photographed by David P Scott. All rights reserved. www.davidpscott.com

To summarise, this strand of work has been to encourage more families to make art together with young children through activities such as the Art Boxes and Messy Play sessions. We also supported families at risk of poor mental health and attachment difficulties through targeted art therapy sessions. When all these activities came to an end with Lockdown, we had to adapt fast to continue to offer support and art making. We developed Home Art Boxes containing art materials and ideas to be delivered to families with young children facing disadvantage and low wellbeing over the pandemic. Over 200 of these went out alongside 750 Family Art Bags for older children. We were also putting a lot of art content online, as did many arts venues (find ours here https://www.dca.org.uk/about/dca-learning). However, we have found it most important to support families where there are barriers to accessing digital content, by providing physical art resources.  

Our research shows that the Art Boxes helped improve parents’ wellbeing and encouraged positive, child focused, and playful interactions. You can read more about the outcomes of the art boxes in detail here https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2021.01.031. 

Photographed by David P Scott. All rights reserved. www.davidpscott.com

As the DCA gradually reopened from late April, we were able to invite families back in to make art together in the Create Space alongside side our exhibitions programme – all with social distancing, mask wearing and pre-packed safe materials. We have also been running outdoor art making sessions for small family / parent groups in venues like the Dundee Botanic Gardens which has created a brilliant opportunity to develop that relationship.  In June, we were finally able to have groups of parents and their little ones back making art together in our Create Space, which has been wonderful! We have many exciting new plans coming up such as co-creating a book of art ideas together with families and making an animation to communicate the benefits of early art making.  

The Fantastic for Families award has certainly helped to strengthen our applications for these new projects, and we are looking forward to continuing to develop what we offer. You can read more about the benefits of art for little ones here https://theconversation.com/why-creating-art-with-your-children-is-important-155545 


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

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