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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TOGETHERFEST: Partnership working to engage diverse families

Tracy Linsley, Family Inclusion Officer at Tees Valley Museums, tells us how they used partnerships to engage diverse families during a pandemic.

Tees Valley Museums group is an NPO consortium of seven venues across five local authority venues. It is part of the North East Family Arts Network.


Now in its third year, Togetherfest is a series of events across Tees Valley Museum venues linked by the same ideas and principles. We consider the venues’ collections and exhibitions and how the experiences that families participate in will help us to engage with them.  We hope that after visiting our venues, families will have felt welcomed, included, represented and that they’ve had a memorable and fun experience.


In 2021’s Togetherfest, as well as having some events open to the general public, we collaborated with several organisations in recruiting families with diverse needs, engaging families during the event and peer reviewing the events:

At the Museum of Hartlepool we invited young carers to a day full of activities and we piloted new collection based storywriting activities which included;

  • A storywriting workshop – using museum objects led by a storywriter/teller
  • A magic selfie mirror – using props to create characters
  • Craft activities – creating your own character
  • A tour – small group tours using your imagination to interpret objects in the collection


Families actively participated and engaged together in different activities. There was a diverse audience including families from different ethnicities, intergenerational groups and economic backgrounds, many visiting for the first time.

Restoration work was underway at Kirkleatham Museum and space was limited, so it was decided that activities there would take place outside the museum. This limited the types of activities and numbers that could be catered for, but it was a great opportunity to engage local families who didn’t currently visit the museum.

We partnered with Family Hubs in Redcar and Feast of Fun who provide holiday activities and food to families over the school holidays. Sixty potential visitors were recruited via Feast of Fun. We had planned a carousel of activities to engage the families in the venue’s Saxon collection, through working with various freelancers and the in-house learning team. However, as Covid rates were still high in the area, Feast of Fun coordinators eventually decided to go back to supplying their services remotely instead of events involving families gathering in person. We adjusted plans and publicly advertised the event. Although some communication issues resulted in Family Hub families not attending, the day was still well attended by general visitors. Despite minor setbacks, this experience has developed our relationship with Feast of Fun and the Family Hubs, and we are in a stronger position to work with them again to encourage new families to visit us in the future.


Breaking down barriers

We know that many of the families who visit the recreational parks near to our venues don’t choose to visit us. To tackle this, Preston Park Museum worked in partnership with our council’s Sport Development department to facilitate family challenges outside of the venue. This successfully attracted some families closer to the museum and gave facilitators a chance to talk to them about all the activities going on inside the venue. Youth volunteers from Bright Minds Big Future also came along and supported the engagement.

At Stewart Park, the launch of a pirate trail on the day of Togetherfest along with family activities outside the museum entrance also meant visitors to the park were encouraged to enter the Captain Cook Museum to purchase their trail map. This gave staff a great opportunity to encourage families to purchase Day or Explorer Passes to visit the museum galleries as part of their visit.

We were also supported on the days by Rare Rockets, a BSL interpretation charity that engaged with families throughout. Initially we had requested they attend the day at Head Of Steam with a view to supporting families’ understanding of how people live with disabiliities, as well as linking in with a temporary exhibition “Disability on the tracks”. However following the success of this event, we will be working in partnership with Rare Rockets on further events to engage and support deaf families in our venues.


Secret shoppers

We worked with the Family Explorers North East 12,000-strong Facebook community to recruit Secret Shoppers to visit Togetherfest at Preston Park Museum. We were keen to find out what they thought of the event but also get feedback about the museum’s offer, including facilities.

When choosing the families, we selected a range of ages of children to enable diverse feedback and be able to assess the suitability of the range of activities we had on offer. We also prioritised locality to the venue as we hoped the families would visit regularly in the future. The families were issued with a pack on arrival including score-cards and review sheets from Family Explorers and a detailed feedback form. We had four Secret Shopper families attend on the day. Feedback from the participants was mainly positive, with some constructive criticism which was extremely useful.


“The whole museum invites you to explore & play together as a family, from talking about the exhibits to exploring the street/gardens.”

“100% top would be the sign language session. Girls loved dressing up for their selfie & trying on hats in the hat shop. Activities & staff well thought out”

“Time playing as a family with the street games. So many things to do.”


Going forward

Due to the pandemic, there were challenges and difficulties in running the Togetherfest this year both in recruiting diverse families and in having to improvise event changes at very short notice. However, the progress we did make inspired the decision to target all future Togetherfest events at less-engaged audience groups. We will work in partnership with organisations that reach these families and build on relationships with organisations such as Rare Rockets to make events inclusive to families with access needs. From the start, there will be consultation with the families to find out what they would like to see as part of their Togetherfest event. We hope this collaborative working approach will support the families to become confident visitors to the venues.

As well as recruiting secret shoppers via Family Explorers, we will be looking at engaging new diverse families by offering them free entry through partnerships including local Family Hubs, charities and organisations supporting families with social, access and learning needs. Our goal is for all families to see themselves represented in our events and exhibitions and to enable access for everyone.


Author: Tracy Linsley, Family Inclusion Officer, Tees Valley Museums




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