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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Oily Cart’s “un-cancellable programme” of theatre for families

Oily Cart make inclusive, sensory shows using sounds, smells, touch, lights, music and movement. They have been nominated for the Fantastic for Families ‘Audience Impact Award’ for their work trying out new formats to integrate disabled and non-disabled family audiences. View the full shortlist.

For the last 40 years, at Oily Cart, we have been developing a multi-sensory way of making theatre shows, to make them as accessible as possible. This means our shows are full of amazing sounds, colours, smells, live music and touch. They are also highly interactive and responsive to whoever is in the room with us. In the last year we have been looking at making new formats that can open out these sensory shows so that both disabled and non-disabled families can attend. We had some great responses to this new work (which you can see a clip of here), with one parent commenting:

“We were the only SEND family there as far as I could tell which usually would make me nervous but everyone was so friendly”. Our projects are always about building connections and finding ways of being together that everyone can enjoy equally.

Since the pandemic, we have completely shifted how we are working. Oily Cart exists to serve our audiences and artists, especially those who are disabled. We are aware of what a distressing time this is for many of the families we work with and have huge respect for and are sending out our love and solidarity.

We are now on a mission to make sure shielding not affect anyone’s right to creativity, their right to connection and their right to play. Tight restrictions make us dig deeper and get more creative. We have created an ‘un-cancellable programme’ to deliver over the next 18 months, which we are really excited about sharing.

Firstly, we created an online, interactive sensory session that you can try at home for young people of all ages and perceived ability, called the ‘Jamboree Sensory Sessions’ these are based around songs that were co-created with children who are non-verbal.

Soon, we will begin touring our next lockdown project ‘Doorstep Jamboree’ where a travelling band will pop up over zoom, on doorsteps and in play soaces across London to make music with families who are still shielding and throw a socially distanced street party to make sure they are still being listened to!

Later in the year, we will produce a sensory film, which focuses on making sensation through cinematic techniques, which is a really exciting area for us. We are making this in collaboration with two incredible artists who have experienced isolation through disability.

Early next year we will begin a nation-wide project called ‘Space to Be’ where a flexible performance arrives at family’s houses, told completely through telephone conversations and packages.

To keep up to date with what we are up to, or to get involved with any of these projects you can look up the Oily Cart website at www.oilycart,org.uk, or contact us at hello@oilycart.org.uk. You can also follow us on social media, on twitter, facebook or Instagram if you look up @oilycart

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