24 Stories of Family Arts

The Whitworth & Afrocats
Afrocats x Whitworth

Audience Impact & Innovation Award Winner

“Sometimes we don’t have time for ourselves, but it’s made a difference to me because I don’t say I’m good or bad – it’s made me realise I can create something.” – Participant

Afrocats x Whitworth is a powerful partnership that launched in February 2022 to reimagine how the Whitworth connects with local families in a more accessible, inclusive and equitable way.

Throughout each school holiday since 2022, Afrocats artists fill the galleries with culturally inspired music, dance and art activities inspired by the Whitworth’s collections and their own cultures.

Using creative engagement to tackle social exclusion in Greater Manchester, this partnership aims to create meaningful change and ensure that the gallery is a space of sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers so equality and diversity can thrive.

The Whitworth, part of the University of Manchester, is the city’s ‘gallery in a park’. Together with local partners, artists and communities, the gallery uses art for positive social change, aiming to transform the way that art is experienced and used, by using art as a tool to open up conversation, generate empathy and actively address what matters most in people’s lives – here and now.

The gallery’s dynamic Civic Engagement & Education team have generated new approaches to working with non-traditional arts audiences from diverse local communities.

The Whitworth offers free entry to all exhibitions and to the extensive range of engagement activities for families from sensory sessions for babies to after hours events for teens.

Afrocats is an award-winning charity that supports refugees, asylum seekers, and anyone facing social exclusion in Greater Manchester. Afrocats work with adults, young people, and children, to build agency, aspirations, and opportunities to improve overall life chances through creative engagement.

They address and dismantle inequality by identifying and breaking down barriers. Their vision is a robust and more inclusive social environment for adults seeking sanctuary and diverse young people.

Afrocats, like the Whitworth, are driven by a mission to use art and creative experiences to drive positive social change. All galleries and arts organisations have audience diversity targets but this partnership isn’t just about creating record numbers for The Whitworth. The aim is to create meaningful change and ensure that the gallery is a space of sanctuary, where everyone is welcome.

You can discover all 24 Stories of Family Arts here. If you’d like to discover more fantastic organisations that meet our Family Arts Standards or Age-Friendly Standards explore the Fantastic for Families Directory.

The Whitworth & Afrocats have won the Audience Impact & Innovation Award in the Fantastic for Families Awards 2023

Awards Shortlist

24 Stories of Family Arts
Discover the shortlist and their 24 stories of arts engagement. Find out who is nominated for Best Family Arts Activity, Best Age-Friendly Outreach, and Audience Impact & Innovation.


Fantastic for Families
From festivals and theatre companies to galleries and museums, in our directory you’ll find 1000+ organisations bringing eye-boggling creative events, activities and initiatives to life across the UK.

Sector Support

Family Arts Campaign
Work in the arts industry? Find out more about our work to support you. Dive into our resources library, commit to the Family Arts Standards or create a Family Arts Network in your area.