ACA Meeting with Arts Council England

ACA Meeting with Arts Council England

ACA meeting January 11th with  Anne Appelbaum and Lindsey Pugh Senior Officers Children, Young People and Learning at Arts Council England, with David Wood, Chair and Vicky Ireland Vice-Chair, as suggested by Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England.

Aim of meeting

To find out about ACE current activities and thinking
To introduce ACA to officers
To share concerns
To consider solutions

Click here to read the report.




Raising a question with the House of Lords

Raising a question with the House of Lords

ACA meeting with  Baroness Bonham Carter’s DCMS policy group at the House of Lords

David Wood (Chair) and Vicky Ireland (Vice Chair) were invited to speak to this group, thanks to Patron Baroness Floella Benjamin.  Baroness Jane Bonham Carter is the Lib Dem spokesperson for Culture, Media and Sport.  Between 15-20 people attended, a mixture of parliamentarians and outside individuals who are invited because they have a particular CMS interest.  The aim of the group is to identify policy areas the group can work on and formulate an approach to oral questions in the house.

The aim of our visit was to have a question raised on our behalf, in the House of  Lords.

Click here to read the report.




Autumn Statement response

On 25 November 2015, Chancellor George Osborne delivered his autumn statement, announcing that funding for Arts Council England (ACE) will increase by around £10 million by 2019/2020. Other pledges included £150 million for The Science Museum, British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum to replace storage facilities; £78 million towards The Factory, Manchester and £4 million for Birmingham Arts Hub.

ACE chair, Sir Peter Bazalgette has acknowledged the importance of campaigners within the arts sector in this victory. The expected cuts have been avoided through the collaboration of ACE and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as well as through valuable nationwide campaigns such as What Next?’s arts4britain campaign.

Whilst cuts to local governments, changes to the education system and on-going devolution leave much work to do, this is a moment to celebrate the impact of a unified campaign to protect arts and culture in this country.



This year’s J M Barrie Award has been presented to the much-loved children’s author, Dame Jacqueline Wilson for a lifetime of unforgettable writing for children.

Jacqueline Wilson is one of the UK’s favourite children’s authors whose work is loved by her legion of loyal fans.   Best known for characters such as Tracy Beaker and the Victorian foundling child, Hetty Feather, over 38 million copies of her books have been sold in the UK and they have been translated into 34 different languages.   Jacqueline Wilson was Children’s Laureate from 2005-2007 when she spearheaded a campaign to encourage parents and carers to read aloud to children.   She was awarded an OBE in 2002 for services to literacy in schools and then was awarded a DBE in 2008.   She is currently Chancellor of Roehampton University where she is also visiting professor of Children’s Literature.

Nick Sharratt, Jacqueline Wilson’s long-standing illustrator gave a tribute to Jacqueline as part of the ceremony accompanied by the present and previous Children’s Laureates.   Malorie Blackman OBE, Laureate from 2013-15 read the citation for the award and Hebe Russell, aged nine, along with Chris Riddell the current Children’s Laureate, presented Jacqueline with her award.   Other icons of children’s literature present in the audience included Michelle Magorian, Lynne Reid Banks, Jamila Gavin and Jan Pienkowski.

The Outstanding Contribution Award went to Sir Ken Robinson, inspirational advocate of creativity in education.   His talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” is the most viewed in the history of TED and has been seen by millions all over the world.  Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp, Chief Executive of The Place, delivered a tribute to Sir Ken, who, although unable to be present, sent an inspiring video. His award was collected by his daughter, Kate Robinson.

ACA Member’s Awards went to Carolyn Mairi L. Forsyth, Producer at the Unicorn Theatre, Sahana Gero, creator of Heart Beat Music Academy and Daniel Jamieson, playwright for Theatre Alibi.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of TIE, Trustees Awards to internationally acclaimed playwrights Mike Kenny and Charles Way.

David Wood OBE, chair of ACA said “Children are the future.  The arts practitioners who specialise in entertaining and inspiring them and triggering their imaginations deserve, Action for Children’s Arts believes, public recognition.  This is the 11th year of the J M Barrie Awards.  We are proud to honour Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Ken Robinson and our Members’ Award winners, Carolyn Mairi L.Forsyth, Sahana Gero, Daniel Jamieson, Trustees’ Award winners Mike Kenny and Charles Way.  They are all brightly-shining beacons in the vibrant world of children’s arts.”

ACA Inspiration Event The Snowman and Peter and the Wolf

ACA Inspiration Event The Snowman and Peter and the Wolf

Milton Court Concert Hall, The Barbican pre-concert talk presented by Neil Brand for Action for Children’s Arts.

How does music fly?

1pm, Saturday 19th December
Free to ticket-holders for the 1.30pm performance.

A fascinating introduction for children and adults about how music helps to tell a story. Writer, composer and silent film accompanist Neil Brand will explore flying music in films such as How to Train Your Dragon, Superman and Star Wars. The audience will be invited to contribute ideas for a flying theme, improvised by Neil at the piano.

Click here for more details.

ACA Roundtable

ACA Roundtable

Earlier this year, ACA sent a survey to members asking them to suggest potential causes for a decline in professionally produced arts for children. The survey identified some key areas that need to be addressed, regarding restrictions in funding and limitations in the National Curriculum itself.

Survey respondents have been invited to attend a round table hosted by ACA at The Young Vic on Tuesday 22 September. In this session, we will discuss the issues presented, aim to find a sustainable course of positive action, and examine how ACA can help further raise the profile of children’s arts.

If you are interested in following the conversation, or contributing your own thoughts, follow us on Twitter @ChildrensArts and tweet us on the day using #….. You can also keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updates after the event about findings, and future related action.

ACA Round Table Report

Children’s TV/media rights?

Children’s TV/media rights?

Some thoughts for ACA by Oli Hyatt Animation U.K.

“UK originated content is quickly disappearing from our screen despite an ever increasing dearth of platforms pushing it out.
Public Service Broadcasting commercial channels are reversing out of children original content, with their investment falling 96% in a little over ten years. The BBC has produced over 60% less original hours over the same period.

Children’s content is in crisis and Ofcom seemingly powerless to reverse the decline despite consistently airing their concern. I do wonder where the next incentive or intervention can come from.
The BBC is an easier fix. Whatever the outcome of the BBC settlement it will give Children’s parity in funding to Adults. Sounds fair doesn’t it, I’m happy to argue over what “parity” means, but as a concept it just feels like a good place to start.
What we need is a bold ambitious plan for our children’s content. One thing’s for sure, the next couple of years will be crucial in defining what the long term outcome for children’s content is”.

ACA is supporting Bacc for the Future campaign and we urge all our members to sign the petition:

ACA is supporting Bacc for the Future campaign and we urge all our members to sign the petition:

The Department for Education is planning to make the five English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subject areas compulsory for all secondary school pupils. The EBacc list of subjects contains no creative arts subjects.

It will make a narrow list of five subject areas compulsory – maths, English, sciences, languages (ancient and modern) and history or geography. If the proposals go ahead, creativity in schools would be damaged and there would be little room in the school day for the arts, music and drama.

Numerous studies have demonstrated both the lack of evidence for the choice of subjects in the EBacc and the harmful impact it has had on cultural and creative subjects in schools.

We know that creativity is educationally and economically valuable and it is valued by the British public so we are working together to urge the Government to reconsider their proposals.

Exclusion of music, art or culture from state secondary school core subject English Baccalaureate requirements – Lord Aberdare 22 July 2015, Lord  Aberdare asked a question in the House of Lords about the ommision of creative subjects from the English Baccalaureate

Magic dust that lasts : Writers in schools – Arts Council England

Writers working with children and young people in schools offer them experiences that can inspire and unlock their creative expression, regardless of age, gender, home background or attitudes. These experiences can be very varied and involve many different writers such as poets, novelists, journalists, non-fiction writers, playwrights, storytellers, digital authors and many others. The focus of projects may be equally varied, from writing based on personal experience to reporting an event in the community.
Many schools agree there are benefits that make a significant contribution to how children learn about the excitement and power of language and the imagination, and working with writers is part of children’s entitlement in the national curriculum.
Sue Horner

King’s College Cultural Enquiry into access to the arts for young people – speech by Vicky Ireland

The below linked file is a recent article by Sir Ken Robinson and below is a verbatim speech which was Vicky Ireland’s contribution to the King’s College Cultural Enquiry into access to the arts for young people.


My name is Vicky Ireland.  I am part of the living archive of this conversation having been born in 1945 and started work in 1966 as a member of the newly established TIE (Theatre-in-Education) team at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry. You are talking about my life.

Having to justify the goodness and the right of arts in our lives makes me so angry. Since cavemen painted on walls we have known the benefit of the arts; why do we have to keep proving it when we have masses of documentation and evidence? It is a Sisyphean task, with results to be forever ignored by politicians because the importance of arts and culture in our lives, is not a vote-catcher.

Why not? Because we are a philistine community in England, puritanical since Oliver Cromwell, ‘the arts are degenerate; they are a luxury; they are an add-on’, they are not recognised as something that enhances the quality of everyday life. 

Until the person in the street is re-educated to understand that the arts are integral, and this becomes a voting issue, nothing will change and change becomes more difficult.

When I started at the Belgrade I was interviewed by the city council, local philosophers.  They employed me; they had vision; they had passion; ordinary people who put the money together to make that TIE team happen and employ seven people.  A brilliant, brave, grass-roots initiative that shared the big questions of life with children, and which has since spread all around the world. But Theatre-in-Education has largely disappeared in England because Arts Council policy decided it would be better to have a sole Education Officer, rather than an autonomous  team and this has morphed into, “the Education Department”.

Organisations should be inclusive, with work for young people and children firmly rooted within their portfolio but if this view is not held and initiated by the person at the top, it becomes ghettoised; the main body does not do the work because the Education Department does it.  It has taken the National Theatre fifty years for its Artistic Director to allow work for little children to be commissioned and staged within one of its main theatres, rather than hived out to the Education Department.  Until arts organisations recognise that they have to serve all of the community, arts for young people will continue to be, in many cases, an add-on. 

We hoped the big questions TIE asked of children would continue to be asked, but having watched arts for children all my life, the difference now is that material is anodyne. Safe titles, safe content  no risk factor.  We have lost the passion to discuss the difficult. I talk to students in drama schools; they do not vote, they are not interested in politics; they have not been introduced to the great “whys”,  of life at an early enough age to form their own perceptions and voice.

We need to wake up and speak up for the  arts; for the importance of their place in our  live, for grass roots initiatives; for  passionate and talented artists to create challenging  work for, and with children,  -in order to develop a more caring, courageous and creative society.

We ignore doing this at our peril.


Ken Robinson article PDF