Engaging with The Family Arts Campaign

The Family Arts Campaign aims to support organisations, networks and hubs across the UK and across the visual and performing arts in providing high-quality activities for families and in growing and broadening the number of families taking part in the arts.

It was an initiative of six visual and performing arts membership organisations and was devised in consultation with over 1,000 professionals and 2,000 families. It is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England; additional Welsh activity is supported by Arts Council Wales.

The Campaign is focusing on three main areas of work: increasing the amount and range of high-quality content available, increasing the quality of experience, and improving marketing. There are several strands of activity, both sector- and public-facing, including the Family Arts Festival, the Family Arts Standards, Local Family Arts Networks, and training and resources.

The phenomenal success of the Campaign since its public launch in April 2012 demonstrates the sector’s eagerness to focus on family arts engagement. Over 900 organisations have participated in the 2013 and 2014 Family Arts Festivals, attracting around 600,000 family members to each. 270 organisations have signed up to the Family Arts Standards, committing to providing an excellent welcome to families. 190 organisations are members of 21 Local Family Arts Networks, working together to develop family arts in their local areas. 800 arts professionals have attended family arts training including conferences, seminars and networking sessions.

Family Arts Festival, 9 October – 1 November 2015

Now in its third year, the Family Arts Festival is an opportunity each October for families to experience high-quality shows, concerts, exhibitions and workshops programmed especially for them, right across the UK. Over 900 organisations have programmed events and activities for each of the past two festivals, both reaching around 600,000 family members. 54% of participating organisations created something new specifically for the 2014 Festival, from new shows to workshops, exhibitions to family open days, or hosting art forms or event types new to their organisation.

Amongst many others, the Barbican programmed an interactive show for families with young children and the BBC Symphony Orchestra held a family concert there; families could watch English National Ballet’s production of Coppélia at the Mayflower in Southampton; and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales performed a Halloween Spooktacular in Cardiff. The African savannah came to Northern Ireland at the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, and the Imaginarium returned to the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles.

In 2014, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo acted as our Patron, and partnerships with Center Parcs, Netmums and The Primary Times enabled us to reach families that wouldn’t necessarily otherwise engage with the arts. We also developed a mobile app, bringing the festival to life by encouraging families to add googly eyes and props to pictures of themselves before sharing with us on social media.

So how about developing an event or activity as part of the 2015 Family Arts Festival? 

As long as the activity has an arts element and is appealing to both adults and children, we’d love for you to take part. And it’s not just about families with younger children – we classify a family event as anything that can appeal to an under 16 and an over 16 attending together. So, your event doesn’t have to be specifically programmed for families, just something that a family would be interested in attending. 

For more ideas on planning events, take a look at our Top Tips.

Family Arts Standards

The Family Arts Standards are helping organisations delivering arts events to grow their family audience and deliver a high quality offer to families. They are both a learning tool and a marketing tool: they give guidance on how best to welcome families to arts organisations and help families looking for arts activities to find you.

There are twelve guidelines covering programming and promotion, consultation with families, staff training and facilities. For the facilities section, if you don’t have control over the facilities in the venues you use (for example if you’re hiring a theatre, school or church for your events) you just need to let your audience know what to expect when they attend your event.

So how do you sign up?

Just read the full list of Family Arts Standards and accompanying guidance which are available at familyarts.co.uk/family-arts-standards, then whoever is in charge needs to email a commitment to meeting the Standards to Family Arts Campaign Manager, Mari O’Neill, at mari@soltukt.co.uk.

Family Arts training and resources

The Family Arts Conference on 13 March 2015 in London will be a major event to introduce important new research, share learning and launch the next exciting stage of the Family Arts Campaign. Everyone is welcome, and we’re kicking things off the night before with a celebratory event including the presentation of the Family Arts Festival Awards, a performance from Z-Arts, and an opportunity to network with arts professionals from across the UK and beyond.

We’ve also collated lots of resources on the Family Arts Campaign website to help you develop your understanding of family arts engagement: there’s a range of case studies, research and toolkits available, some of them commissioned by us and some by experts from across the world.

Got any questions?
Contact Mari or Clair:
Mari O’Neill, Family Arts Campaign Manager: mari@soltukt.co.uk 020 7557 6747
Clair Donnelly, Family Arts Campaign Communications & Administration Officer: clair@soltukt.co.uk 020 7557 6750

Follow us on Twitter @familyarts1