Kinship and culture: they go together - Museums Association

Kinship and culture: they go together

Arts and culture are a necessity for children and families. We know that taking part in cultural activities together helps …
Paul Collard
Arts and culture are a necessity for children and families. We know that taking part in cultural activities together helps to make families strong and stable, providing them with shared memories, history and happiness as well as resilience when times are hard.

Such positive family experiences can be gained from a range of activities: a walk in the park or playing a game. But the setting for many memories is often cultural and artistic – a visit to the theatre, listening to music together, an outing to a museum.

Cultural experiences provide a powerful backdrop for connection and bonding within families because human behaviour is at the heart of culture.

Yet a new independent research report, by Ipsos Mori on behalf of Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), reveals that one in five parents said their child had not taken part in any cultural activities in the past year with the family.

Despite the range of national-level initiatives, such as free admission to national museums, there is still some way to go if we are to ensure that all families see arts and culture as a part of their lives.

Another Ipsos Mori study reveals links between a child’s engagement in arts and culture and the educational levels of their parents, with 60 per cent of children of parents with no educational qualifications spending less than three hours a week on cultural activities. Worryingly, 20 per cent spend no time at all on such activities.

In order to explore further the barriers to accessing arts and culture as a family, CCE conducted research with groups of mothers from this demographic. As expected, some barriers to accessing cultural activities are practical and linked to family finances.

However, parents revealed more emotional reasons for not taking part. The majority displayed a lack of knowledge of their area and many were unsure of what to expect of new experiences and what might be expected of them in new situations.

Work to reduce these barriers through group experiences or taster sessions in familiar settings can help to make arts and cultural activities more inclusive, especially for those parents who may have little similar experience themselves, and reasons to be fearful of the unknown.

What also emerged from these conversations was the pleasure many families gained from participating in arts and cultural activities, with most reporting the enjoyment their families experienced.

At a time when the government is saying it wants “strong and stable families” as a social “bedrock”, we believe that it should recognise the vital role that arts and culture can play in strengthening the fabric of family life.

We know that these are tough financial times and that the cultural sector is not exempt, but access to arts and culture for children and families remains important.

The value of engaging children and young people with the arts through creative and cultural education is vital for lifelong involvement with the arts, and for much more.

Independent evidence shows that the work of Creative Partnerships helps to raise attainment levels, improve attendance and increase pupil motivation, particularly for schools in challenging circumstances.

We want to see a renewed commitment to supporting the future prospects of our children and families.

Paul Collard is the chief executive of Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), an arts education charity.

CCE is the national organisation that manages Creative Partnerships. Arts Council England cut CCE’s in-year funding by £1.6m in June.

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