1. Investigating how children and young people engage with the arts
Arts Council England (ACE) first commissioned us to report on the different experiences of the arts for younger groups, together with recommendations for equality action-planning. Our diversity research team was led by Mark Robinson and Imogen Blood.
Following a period of desk research in which we synthesised available research data from ACE and elsewhere, we conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with 23 individuals involved in arts and culture with, for or by children and young people. These were structured around themes emerging from the initial review period, including potential barriers to – and enablers of – engagement by diverse children and young people.
Our approach cut across all nine protected characteristics, but also factored in socio-economic status and educational attainment. This allowed us to identify:
- Patterns of cultural difference
- Barriers to engagement
- Specific gaps in current ACE provision.
We were also careful to take into account the impact of changing governmental policy, of digital and social media, and the importance of location and parental support on how these groups interact with various art-forms.
Our final report – ‘Every child: equality and diversity in arts and culture with, by and for children and young people’ – was published on the ACE website, along with an equality and diversity infographic and action plan. The resulting findings and recommendations were used internally to develop strategy and to inform policy.
We also provided recommendations for improved diversity data collection and monitoring, plus guidance on programming, funding and strategic leadership. Our recommendations were featured in an article in ArtsProfessional magazine – ‘Arts Council must “radically improve” young person diversity monitoring’ – in February 2017.