AMBITIOUS plans to ensure all children and young people in Reading have access to high quality arts and cultural education, are making good progress.
A report going before the Council’s Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee (15 March), outlines the progress made to date in establishing Reading’s Cultural Education Partnership (CEP), as well as highlighting some emerging arts opportunities for Reading’s children and young people.
The Cultural Education Partnership aims: ‘To allow every child and young person in Reading to have the opportunity to aspire, achieve and participate in high quality arts and culture, and to develop a collaborative, sustainable infrastructure to maintain such engagement.’
Achievements so far include the completion of a borough-wide consultation with young people between May and July 2016, the results from which have contributed to the creation of the CEP’s action plan.
When asked why taking part in arts activities was important to them, perceptive comments from young people confirmed how much they valued the arts and included: “Life would be boring without arts,” “It enriches my creativity and allows my mind to go free,” and “Art gives me confidence.”
The CEP has also established strong and committed representation from numerous key local stakeholders.
Key objectives of the CEP Action Plan September 2016 – August 2019, include:
– enabling 5,000 children and young people, who are otherwise unlikely to engage with the arts,
to participate in cultural activities;supporting at least 1,500 children
and young people to engage in Arts Award;
– encouraging 30 schools and colleges in Reading to gain Artsmark status;
– increasing number of young people who are ready for creative employment.
In addition to many smaller scale art projects and activities, there are a number of major projects already underway that will provide significant opportunities to engage with young people, including:
– The Council’s ‘Abbey Revealed’ project which also incorporates refurbishment of the Abbey Gate building for use as an education centre;
– The ambitious visual arts programme ‘Reading International’, led by the University, embedding engagement with local arts organisations, schools and communities;
– Reading Museum and Reading University’s MERL working on a collaborative project to increase access through digital technology, with potential for engagement with children and young people;
– Reading Library Service developing its range of cultural activities, including a newly enhanced ‘Rhyme Time’; a programme of high quality theatre across its entire network of libraries and work with a local arts organisation to deliver a new Arts Award programme.
Cllr Paul Gittings, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, said: “I’m pleased by the excellent progress made to date in establishing Reading’s Cultural Education Partnership and the continued commitment from all those involved to drive this ambition forward.
“The CEP’s objectives strongly align with the Council’s aspiration to ensure a lasting legacy from Reading’s Year of Culture in 2016. The particular focus on young people who otherwise might not have access to high quality cultural opportunities resonates with our local priority to address inequality and ‘narrow the gaps’.
“There is great potential in Reading for access to high quality arts and culture to make a real difference to quality of life and outcomes for children and young people and we will continue to work together to ensure that these benefits are realised.”
The Reading Cultural Education Partnership receives support and investment from Artswork, the South East Bridge organisation. Artswork acts as a source of inspiration and practical support for those engaging with children and young people, enhancing their expertise and building bridges between cultural and educational organisations to strengthen infrastructure, facilitate partnerships and sustain access to arts and culture.
Jane Bryant, Artswork’s Chief Executive, said: “We believe that Reading’s Cultural Education Partnership will make a genuine difference to the lives of children and young people in Reading through arts and culture, empowering them to find their voice, become skilled leaders and achieve their aspirations.”
The CEP, which was formed in 2016, is made up of representatives from several local organisations, including Reading Borough Council, Reading College and The University of Reading, as well as many representatives from the local arts community.
Reading is one of the flagship towns in the south-east involved in the Arts Council’s Cultural Education Challenge, alongside Brighton, East Kent, Milton Keynes, Hastings and Slough, of which Cultural Education Partnerships are an integral part.
View the full CEP report here: www.reading.gov.uk/article/9653/Housing-Neighbourhoods-and-Leisure-Committee-15-MAR-2017 (Item 15).
Find out more about Reading’s Cultural Education Partnership here: www.readingarts.com/reading-arts/cultural-partnership/cultural-education-partnership
The CEP and its Action Plan are aligned with and support the delivery of Reading’s Culture and Heritage Strategy, the Children and Young People’s Plan and the Health and Well-being Strategy.
As the Bridge Organisation for the South East (appointed by Arts Council England), Artswork connects arts and cultural organisations, children and young people, families and schools – working to ensure that “every child and young person experiences the richness of the arts”, both in and outside of school. Find out more at: artswork.org.uk
In October 2015 Arts Council England launched the Cultural Education Challenge. Cultural Education Partnerships are an integral part of this, to ensure that all children and young people get access to high quality arts and culture, through strategic collaboration of organisations working with children and young people.
Reading is one of the towns in the south-east involved in the Arts Council’s Cultural Education Challenge that aims to get more children involved with the arts.
The Reading Cultural Education Partnership is made up of representatives from many local organisations, including Reading Borough Council, Reading College, The University of Reading, Thames Valley Police, Reading schools, Berkshire Maestros, Reading UK CIC and the ‘Culture and Arts Network’ (CAN) representing all community arts organisations in the town.
Artswork are also members of the Partnership and continue to provide proactive support. The CEP is currently Chaired by Cllr. Sarah Hacker as Chair of the Arts and Heritage Forum and there is a range of Council services represented.