Press release

New cultural opportunities created for hundreds of young people

Three pilot areas will give 600 young people increased access to culture

Paint Brush

Six hundred schoolchildren will be given unique access to cultural institutions as part of a new scheme to increase access to the arts, the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley announced today.

The first pilots of the Cultural Citizens Programme will be launched in September in Liverpool and Blackpool, Birmingham, and Barking and Dagenham. The programme targets disadvantaged communities where fewer people currently visit museums, galleries or the theatre.

Young people on the programme will be offered a range of cultural activities, such as free visits to local plays, behind the scenes access to museums and galleries, and exclusive trips to world class venues, so they develop a lifelong love of the arts.

Participants in some areas will build new skills, including learning to use social media accounts or being tour guides. Young people taking part in the programme will also be encouraged to work towards an Arts Award qualification.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said:

Arts and culture are an integral part of British society - it boosts tourism, improves our wellbeing and provides a source of local pride and identity. We want to ensure that it is available to everyone, no matter what their background. The Cultural Citizens Programme will open doors for hundreds of young people across the country, so they can enjoy our fantastic arts and culture scene, and gain the skills to build careers in this thriving sector.”

The programme will be initially piloted in these three areas and, if successful aims to be rolled out to thousands of young people across the country.

The programme is one of the key proposals from the Culture White Paper and will target areas where there is low cultural engagement. It will be led by Arts Council England and delivered by Curious Minds, Kids in Museums, and A New Direction with support from Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The pilots will explore how arts and cultural organisations can provide disadvantaged young people with cultural experiences and increase local engagement with the arts.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said:

Our investment in the Cultural Citizens Programme will help to ensure that more children and young people will have the opportunity to engage with art and culture, regardless of their background. We hope the scheme will complement our existing programmes for children and young people, and help to nurture the cultural citizens of the future.

Historic England Deputy Chief Executive, Deborah Lamb said:

Historic England looks forward to continuing to build on the success of our Heritage Schools programme through the Cultural Citizens initiative, creating more opportunities for young people to find out about their fascinating built heritage and how they can help look after it

The details of the three pilot programmes are as follows:

Liverpool and Blackpool:

  • Working with Curious Minds, the programme will give 200 local 11-14 year olds the opportunity to engage with cultural organisations, public art, heritage sites and arts festivals.
  • Young people will work with specially trained Culture Coaches to plan extra-curricular visits to festivals, theatres, galleries and museums such as FACT, Liverpool Everyman, Tate Liverpool and Museum of Liverpool.
  • They will review and share their experiences to achieve a Bronze Arts Award.


  • A New Direction will partner with Creative Barking and Dagenham and Studio3Arts to ensure high quality arts opportunities for pupils across five secondary schools.
  • Cultural Citizens Clubs will be set up in the schools and will help students to design a programme of cultural visits.
  • The pilot will link with ‘Creative Schools’ a network of 30 arts organisations who will provide visits and opportunities for the young people involved.
  • All the work will be accredited through the Arts Award so that young people will finish the programme with a qualification that will help them progress to higher education or work.


  • Kids in Museums Cultural Citizens pilot will look to partner with 20 arts organisations in Birmingham – from opera to street theatre, orchestras to high art.
  • 200 young people – Cultural Champions - will work with 20 organisations, taking on roles of responsibility within these organisations, such as tour guides in galleries, front of house in theatres, running social media, designing an events programme and running workshops.
  • Birmingham’s 200 Cultural Champions will be given free tickets to three different performances in the city, beginning this October with the Birmingham Rep theatre.
Published 9 August 2016