Bridging the divide for children in the North

Childwall Academy
17 Nov 2022

At the heart of the cost-of-living and Covid storm, children and young people have fewer opportunities to engage in arts and culture and barriers to access are growing. Hannah Baldwin thinks this is a crisis in the making.

English Heritage to offer food bank users free days out

28 Mar 2024

English Heritage and the Trussell Trust have announced a new initiative to provide free days out for people who access food banks. 

Following a successful pilot scheme last summer, people on the lowest incomes will be able to receive a voucher for a free visit to their local English Heritage site alongside their emergency food parcel.

More than 100 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust network and 25 English Heritage properties across England will be taking part in the 2024 partnership. 

English Heritage sites participating in the 2024 scheme include Stonehenge in Wiltshire, Osborne—Queen Victoria’s seaside home—on the Isle of Wight, Corbridge Roman Town on Hadrian’s Wall, and Clifford’s Tower in York.

Nick Merriman, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: “As a charity, one of our key aims is to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy the great historic sites in our care. 

"And although we’ve seen our visitor and member numbers increase, we know that for some, the opportunity of a day out is simply out of reach. 

"We’re really delighted to be teaming up with the Trussell Trust to help those who are often most in need of some time out with their family and friends.”

The offer will be valid until 3 November 2024 and is available to anyone receiving emergency food and support from one of the participating Trussell Trust food banks.

Frazer speaks out against theatre trigger warnings

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer
21 Feb 2024

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer says theatre audiences should be 'treated in an adult way' despite campaigners insisting that trigger warnings are an important tool for improving accessibility.

West Yorkshire launches access scheme for cultural venues

Mayor West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin speaking at an event
21 Feb 2024

The initiative is the first of a raft of measures that form a £2.3m support package for West Yorkshire’s creative sector.

Meet the childhood friends transforming access to creative careers

Mae Yip and Samantha Hornsby
15 Jan 2024

Sam Hornsby and her best friend Mae Yip were sick of seeing young people experience the same lack of access to the creative industries they went through 20 years ago. So they did something about it.

Royal Court creates ‘democratic’ digital archive

Four Royal Court production images showing August for the People, Seven methods of killing Kylie Jenner, Look back in anger and Blest be the tie
28 Nov 2023

Spearheaded by Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, the Living Archive contains information on every Royal Court production.

Taking up the fight for regional opera

Production image of Cinderella, Norwich Theatre
15 Nov 2023

After Glyndebourne Opera cancelled its schedule of regional touring for 2023, Norwich Theatre’s Stephen Crocker was inundated with calls from disappointed audience members. 

Buying a ticket shouldn’t be a performance

Exterior of Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, Wales
07 Nov 2023

Andrew Miller recently spent hours trying to book a ticket but, with the rollout of a new access scheme, he hopes his travails and those of other people with disabilities will soon be over. 

ACE outlines plans for disability access scheme

The new website for the All In access initiative
07 Nov 2023

Access scheme for disabled audiences will launch next year, based on the existing Hynt access card initiative already up and running across Wales.

British Museum digitises collection to prevent thefts

18 Oct 2023

The British Museum has announced plans to digitise its collection in response to the stolen artefacts scandal that has embroiled the institution.

A five-year plan to digitise the museum’s collection and make it available online will help “improve security”, according to the museum's Interim Director, Sir Mark Jones.

Appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Wednesday (18 October) he said:  “It is my belief that the single most important response to the thefts is to increase access because the better a collection is known - and the more it is used - the sooner any absences are noticed.

"So that's why, rather than locking the collection away, we want to make it the most enjoyed, used and seen in the world.”

The process of digitising the collection is already underway and involves the uploading or upgrading of 2.4 million records. 

The British Museum’s Chair of Trustees, George Osborne, said the organisation had been “victims of an inside job” when around 2,000 items from its collection were revealed to be missing in August, leading to the dismissal of a Senior Curator. 

“There are lots of lessons to be learnt," said Osbourne. "We have changed our whistleblowing code, changed our policy on thefts... tightened up security on thefts." 

The museum has also announced plans for enhanced access to study rooms, where members of the public and academics can view items from the collection by appointment.

Osbourne revealed that the museum will acknowledge the thefts in an exhibit of the missing items, 350 of which have been recovered so far. 

Disabled and starting out?

A ballet dancer leaning into a red shoe handing from a tree in front of her
27 Sep 2023

Unlimited provides roles for disabled people in the arts, starting at entry level. Jo Verrent reflects on her first job in the cultural sector and what she learnt from it. 

Guide launched to help describe artworks for blind people

25 Sep 2023

A new describing art guide aims to support art galleries and museums to make their collections more accessible for blind and partially sighted people.

The guide was launched by Sight Loss Councils (SLC) and funded by the Thomas Pocklington Trust. It was developed by East Sussex SLC in collaboration with Zoom Arts and Royal Collection Trust.

“Blind and partially sighted people also enjoy accessing art and museums. However, this can often be inaccessible to us,” said Iris, a member of East Sussex SLC and a volunteer.

“This is why we are working alongside arts organisations to make this happen. 

“We hope that our resource will enable staff to better understand how they can describe art with confidence to someone with sight loss and that it’ll break down some of the barriers about communicating with blind and partially sighted people.”

She hopes the guide will encourage galleries and museums to actively promote their ability to offer audio described tours.

Amy Stocker, Access and Inclusion Manager for Royal Collection Trust, said the resource “should make people much more confident when communicating with blind and partially sighted people”.

“Hopefully this means more vision impaired people will have access to art and engaging with arts and culture,” she added.

Accessibility IPSO relocates under ACE transfer scheme

Live subtitled tour guide image at Wellcome Collection
07 Sep 2023

Stagetext says its move to Colchester will allow it to improve access to arts and culture across the South East.

How do you get into dance?

Boys performing as part of ManMade, an all male youth dance platform at ZoieLogic Dance Theatre 2019.
06 Sep 2023

Zoie Golding and Ollie Webb are 20 years apart in age and experience. Coming from backgrounds where a career in dance would be unlikely, they have taken unconventional routes into the industry, as Rowena Price discovered.

Theatre careers programme to improve access and diversity

17 Aug 2023

A partnership between Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) and charity Get Into Theatre is launching a nationwide programme to improve access to jobs and increase diversity in theatre.

The scheme, Work in Theatre, will take place across 15 ATG venues and offer digital activities through Get Into Theatre’s website.
The year-long project, funded by Arts Council England, aims to reach more than 30,000 young people and will focus on three strands of work: work experience, a teacher conference, and emerging artist commissions.

Get Into Theatre Director Alex Duarte-Davies said getting young people who want to build a career in theatre through those physical doors “can often be a daunting challenge”. 

“This collaboration with ATG will see those doors opened wide and ensure that young people from all backgrounds are given the same opportunities to ‘get into theatre’. 

“It is a step in breaking down those barriers between education and industry, to ensure that the future of the sector is both representational and accessible.”

Survey to examine accessibility of environmental initiatives

27 Jul 2023

New research will explore how access to music and live events for disabled people can become more environmentally sustainable.

Julie’s Bicycle, Attitude is Everything and A Greener Future are calling on disabled, artists, audiences, volunteers and professionals to participate in a survey looking at how accessibility can be more considered in environmental initiatives.

“Disability access must be a key part of how we design climate solutions and orient our world towards justice. It is the embodiment of care and solidarity in practice,” said Farah Ahmed, Climate Justice Lead at Julie’s Bicycle. 

“We are really excited to be partnering with Attitude is Everything and A Greener Future to develop the tools and resources the sector needs to engage with accessibility as a core principle for environmental action.”

The research will be used to create a toolkit for the music and live events sectors, containing practical solutions and case studies. 

The first edition is to be published in early 2024.

Public library projects receive £1m boost

20 Jun 2023

An initiative to increase the number of people who use public libraries has awarded £1.09 million to 27 projects across England.

The LibraryOn fund, which is supported by Arts Council England and facilitated by the British Library, was launched in March this year.

Library services and consortia were invited to apply for capital expenditure grants of between £10,000–£70,000, with the aim of making it easier for library users to access services online.

Grants have been awarded for website development, apps and virtual library tours. Other funded projects involve artificial intelligence and search engine optimisation.

Library services in Sunderland, Leicester, West Sussex and Gloucestershire are among those benefiting. 

Liz White, Head of Public Libraries and Community Engagement at the British Library, said: "We’re excited to see this grant award for library services in areas across England, balancing investment in core offers with a wide variety of opportunities for digital innovation, user research and shared learning about ways of working. 

"This reflects our north star goal to increase the number of people using public libraries and raise awareness about their enduring value and importance."

Navigating the challenges of digitisation and museums

Cornwall Museums Partnership Beyond Digitisation Project. 3D models of a costume collection.
03 May 2023

Digitising collections is an ongoing challenge for museums, as evidenced in the latest National Museum Partnership reportFiona Morris and Charlotte Morgan discuss the potential of cross-cultural and technical partnerships as a solution.

Guildhall to launch performance training network for children

02 May 2023

Guildhall School of Music and Drama is set to launch a new national training network in performance and production for children and young people across England.

The network aims to “broaden the country’s talent pipeline” and will incorporate five existing centres across England, as well as an online centre for remote study.

It will offer one-to-one training, as well as group lessons and holiday courses in music and drama. 

Centres in Waterloo, the Barbican, King’s Cross - all in London - and Norwich and Taunton will form part of the network, each run in partnership with local arts venues and education providers, the Stage reported.

The network demonstrates “the depth and breadth of Guildhall School’s commitment to children and young people”, said Jonathan Vaughan, Principal of Guildhall.

“Our vision of becoming a sector leader in lifelong learning in the arts is being realised as we work to ensure the boundaries between the different levels of our training are porous and that people at every stage of life can learn with Guildhall School,” he said.

Alison Mears, Director of Guildhall Young Artists, said that a lack of investment in the performing arts in schools over the past decade had “closed down” opportunities. 

“Guildhall Young Artists is our response, as a leading conservatoire, to help increase and broaden the country’s talent pipeline, and to enable more young people to perform, create, improvise and collaborate at the highest level,” she added.

Accessible art trail for young wheelchair users announced

25 Apr 2023

A UK charity for young wheelchair users is creating the country's first step-free art trail this summer.

Whizz-Kidz will present Morph’s Epic Art Adventure, featuring more than 50 "super-sized sculptures" of the plasticine children’s TV character, who first appeared in 1977 in the BBC programme Take Hart.

Taking place from 19 June to 20 August 2023 in Central London, each Morph sculpture will be uniquely designed by well-known and emerging artists.

A series of ‘Mini Morph’ sculptures adopted and created by schools will also be displayed, and a trail map and app will help wheelchair users find their way.  

A statement from Whizz-Kidz said: "The Morph sculptures will be canvases for conversations about diversity and inclusion for wheelchair users.

"As part of Morph’s Epic Art Adventure in London, Whizz-Kidz will use the art trail to encourage the public, business community and young people to envision what a more inclusive world might look like for young wheelchair users, and what role they might wish to play in making this a reality."


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