Nurturing the next creative generation

Posted by Darren Henley on 16 June 2016

Creative learning is not a soft option. Subjects such as art and design, dance, drama and music should be part of every child’s education. They inspire inquisitiveness, persistence, imagination, discipline and collaboration – but they’re also worth learning for their own intrinsic benefits.

At Arts Council England, we believe that every child should benefit from a properly designed approach to nurture creativity through cultural education. In recent years, I have written two government reviews into music and cultural education. Both showed that whilst great strides have been made in enhancing opportunities for children and young people to engage in arts and culture, we still have more work to do.

In particular, young people from the most deprived backgrounds are least likely to engage with cultural activities. And these are the children are often most in need of the benefits that art and culture can bring to their lives.

One of our five goals at the Arts Council centres around ensuring that all children and young people have the opportunity to experience great art and culture. It’s about developing the creative practitioners and the audiences of tomorrow. One of the key ways that we are working to address this is through Artsmark, our award for schools which champions excellent cultural education provision.

With over 3,000 schools now on their Artsmark journey, schools continue to be the single most important place where children experience a cultural education and Artsmark can help to embed high-quality arts and cultural education into their curriculum.

Artsmark is designed by schools for schools. It’s therefore very well-aligned to the new Ofsted framework and supports schools in providing robust evidence of how they’re meeting their spiritual, moral and cultural requirements, through a broad and balanced curriculum. What’s more, Artsmark schools gain access to exceptional resources and networks, and some of our leading cultural organisations.

A rich cultural education for all children and young people isn’t an entertaining optional extra. It’s far more important than that. At the Arts Council, we hope that all schools across the country will join us in championing the value of cultural education.

The reputation of our country’s creative industries is unparalleled. Whether we’re talking about our famous museums, galleries, theatres, libraries, orchestras, opera and dance companies, or individual actors, musicians, writers, directors, choreographers, curators and visual artists, this country is known for its world-beating creative talent. By engaging children and young people with cultural education from an early age, we can continue to nurture our nation’s exceptional talent and to develop the next creative generation.

‘Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England’  (Credit: Arts Council England )



Cultural education gives children and young people the opportunity to develop their creativity, both individually and collectively, and that's why our goal is for every child and young person to have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts.

Darren Henley
Chief Executive
Arts Council England

It's vital that children have the opportunity to learn and enjoy arts and culture from an early age. It develops their creativity, inspires future careers and enriches their childhood.

Artsmark Award does brilliant work in schools and education to ensure young people access a broad and balanced curriculum that includes high-quality arts and culture.

Michael Ellis MP
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism
Department of Culture, Media and Sport