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: Positive Imaginings from Rowanbank

A white man kneels on his knees in the middle of a wooded glade. He has short hair and a navy tracksuit. He is speaking to five young boys who are lying on the ground in front of him. They are wearing outdoor clothing. Behind him is a woman with a small group of children and a young girl standing alongside. There is a campfire in the middle of the gathering.Positive Imaginings from Rowanbank Environmental Arts & Education is a project which is artistically presenting children’s imaginings of a positive future in the face of climate change.

Emma-Jane Dennis, Communications Coordinator at Rowanbank, tells us more about how the Positive Imaginings project is coming to life.

“…you must close your eyes and imagine a new tree. The biggest most beautiful tree, with rich green leaves, with a trunk so thick. And not just one tree. A forest of trees. Roads full of trees instead of cars. Every open space, every field, a new woodland. Hear the bird song. Hear the wind rustling through the leaves. Oh! Keep going, it’s working! It’s working!…Keep dreaming. Please! Dream of a city full of trees, and plants and flowers, each roof a roof of leaves, breathe in all that clean air…Keep dreaming, your dreams are coming through, you are making trees here, the forest returns, the birds are returning. Oh, my, the magic you have dreamt for us, the magic you made.”

Through a series of five stories, children have been helping our mystical storyteller, Nani Woods, to save her planet, “Planet B”, through learning the magical wonders of nature, problem-solving, sharing, renewable energy sources, and powerful dreaming. This has been part of our Positive Imaginings fireside storytelling & woodland learning workshops, where Rowanbank Environmental Arts & Education worked with children in Craigmillar primary schools to address our climate emergency in an informative, meaningful and imaginative way.

The fireside stories were written by award-winning poet and playwright, Hannah Lavery, and creatively addressed ‘scary’ topics such as deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and global warming in ways that are effective and relatable for children, providing them with tools to imagine ways that they can help and take action to save our planet’s future.

Positive Imaginings is using circus and theatre to connect children with the natural world; to spark joy, a sense of magic and wonder; to empower and give voice to children from areas of multiple deprivation in Scotland, who have limited access to greenspaces. Rowanbank combines in-depth scientific knowledge with high quality performing arts to bring people together to experience, enjoy and learn about their natural environment. We engage with children in an imaginative and inclusive way, building a community of creative environmentalists and young leaders determined to tackle the climate crisis.

Initially a creative partnership between Lucy Power and Arran Sheppard, Rowanbank Environmental Arts & Education was founded in 2006 to actively engage people in important environmental issues such as climate change and loss of biodiversity. Combining their passion for performing with their academic backgrounds in environmental science and engineering, Lucy and Arran created Rowanbank, based in Edinburgh and working throughout Scotland and beyond.

At the core of Rowanbank’s Positive Imaginings project is a drive for climate justice and accessibility to climate education. This year the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is being held in Glasgow, and Lucy and Arran were eager to design a project that would reach children from diverse backgrounds who are often most affected by climate change and/or encounter barriers to participating in tackling climate change.

We believe that climate action must be intersectional and inclusive, uplifting the voices who are most marginalised and putting them at the centre of our collective futures!

The project is inspired by core ideas taken from climate psychology and about how we can most effectively act on environmental issues and help address young people’s climate anxiety. Helping children understand climate change in ways that are relevant for them is key to fostering empowerment and the feeling of wanting to learn more. In turn, listening to children and learning from their experiences can help us all to turn feelings of powerlessness into positive action for a better future.

The woodland workshops were a fantastic opportunity for the children to access local greenspaces and learn outdoors, with play-based activities that allowed them to express their thoughts and feelings about nature and climate change. Drawing climate-positive dreamworlds, rewilding with clay flower-bombs, crafting willow dream catchers, and learning about forest plants and bugs were some of the activities that the children took part in during these workshops. Big smiles, endless questions about nature and climate solutions, and positive future imaginings spoke for the success of this part of the project!

We are now working on the final Positive Imaginings Climate Circus show. We are drawing inspiration from the children’s visions of what a positive future would look like for them in the face of climate change, listening to their stories and worries about our planet, and investigating how this can contribute to helping adults rethink their perceptions of what our collective future could look like. The show will be a combination of circus, theatre, music and climate science, and will aim to inspire confidence to tackle the anxiety and insecurities that many of us hold about our future and turn them into optimistic, solution-based actions.

The final show will be performed in primary school playgrounds and local greenspaces around central Scotland in the autumn of this year, as Glasgow hosts COP26, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

A white man wearing a black suit and top hat is playing a violin on the right side of the picture. Behind him, on the left side of the picture is a woman dressed in a long red dress and a hairpiece. Behind her in the background is a white wind turbine

In order to share Positive Imaginings far and wide, we have three creative continuations ahead of us. A wonderful film will be made of the show and the project’s community engagement process; the unique methodology and script is being written up and shared with other creatives to use as a tool to give a voice to children; and the collection of fireside stories will be turned into an illustrated book – so families can read about Nani Woods and be inspired towards more positive imaginings!

Follow Rowanbank to hear more about Positive Imaginings:

Instagram @rowanbank_environmental_arts

Facebook @rowanbankenvironmentaleducation

Twitter @rowanbankenv

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