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London’s Cultural Education Challenge

An article by Director of Sound Connections, Philip Flood

 

The deadline recently passed for A New Direction’s ambitious Cultural Education Challenge partnership initiative which aims to ‘drive a step-change in cultural education for children and young people in London.’ It will be fascinating to hear the outcome and I am hoping to see two things in any successful bid. Firstly, and a given of course for Sound Connections, is that music-making features in the activities and secondly, more importantly, that the voices of young people ring out powerfully throughout, and that their views are kept central at every step of every programme of work. It’s good to see that the application process asked how young people’s views were being incorporated and what the process of consultation would be.

Underpinning the aims of the Challenge are six themes which I would urge everyone to look at. The new website has them as a series of infographics which can be downloaded, although you need to scroll down to find them. Each theme is underpinned by a key question:

  • New London New Schools – How do we ensure cultural education is part of the foundation for London’s growth and development?
  • A Super-Served system – Why do the majority of cultural organisations and schools report difficulties in working with each other?
  • Entry to Employment – How do we attract and facilitate young Londoners into creative careers?
  • Equity and Geography – How can we ensure accessibility to cultural resources for all young Londoners?
  • Equity and Wealth – Why is cultural engagement among economically disadvantaged youth disproportionately low?
  • Influence and Diversity – Can we communicate arts and culture more effectively to young people?

I think these are strong robust themes, each backed up with surprising, and in many cases shocking statistics. I also believe that these are questions we all should be asking ourselves when we work with young people, especially those in the most challenging circumstances. I am sure we all have some answers but I know that in order to improve the quality of our work we need be honest, reflect on our practice and strive to improve the offer for children and young people in London. Now there’s a challenge.

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