Mapping out a future for culture in education

Culture Challenge

Arts charity Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) believes all young people have a right to experience, enjoy and make great art and culture. Having experienced first-hand the limited dedicated provisions for young people, and marginal links with schools, BCA wanted to make a difference and plug the gap.

In partnership with head teachers, young people and cultural practitioners, and co-funded by the Royal Opera House Bridge partnership investment fund, BCA set about identifying the barriers to young people accessing arts and culture through schools. Aside from the big issues of time and money a core problem was accessibility and communication. Cultural providers did not have the resources to market themselves effectively so schools and teachers did not know who was out there or where to find them.

Set upon a web-based solution, BCA approached Bonfire CI with the idea of creating “The Culture Map”, with a complementary checklist of activities, so teachers could see at a glance what was in their local area to explore and access. During the consultation we quickly realised however that a map alone would not be enough to actively engage schools, parents and pupils and a call to action with a greater emotional purpose was required; a campaign for culture. The checklist came to the fore and the Culture Challenge was born.

The Culture Challenge covers a wide range of topics and artforms and organises cultural provision into seven easy to understand, and search, categories. First piloted in Bedfordshire, with a 30 item checklist of cultural activities in the area, the Culture Challenge engaged 14 development partner schools and 62 cultural practitioners.

The Culture Challenge pilot was deemed a success and not only did it secure future funding but also helped BCA create a specific Youth Participation Producer role, and set plans in motion for a national roll-out starting in Milton Keynes.

Got an idea you’d like support with bringing to market? Call Stephen Judge at Bonfire CI on 01525 841079 for an informal chat, or email [email protected]

If supporting education and cultural provision for young people sounds in line with your business’s CSR programme do get in touch with the Culture Challenge via

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