We want to give every UK primary school child five quality cultural experiences a year. To strengthen resilience, wellbeing and communities.
by Action for Children's Arts in Leicester, England, United Kingdom
We are Action for Children's Arts - the national voice of children's arts in the UK. For over twenty years, we have campaigned for the rights of children aged 0-12 to access the arts, and we have connected and celebrated the inspirational people making creative work for children.
The Arts Backpack UK is not a new idea - it already exists in Germany, Norway, Israel and Denmark. Since 2018 we have been exploring the idea of an Arts Backpack for primary school children across the UK. The idea is that every child collects five cultural experiences a year and stores them in their virtual Backpack. These experiences could range from going to a concert, to designing their own video game; from an art gallery tour, to a series of hip-hop classes. We want to show children that the arts are fun, varied, and theirs.
As we come out the other side of Covid-19, the mental health of our nation's children is a huge concern. We believe that the opportunity to play and be creative must take a central role in our children’s recovery and wellbeing.
Dancing will improve their physical health and self-esteem, drama will develop their social skills, learning an instrument will help them to cope with stress, and creating visual art will enable them to develop a sense of identity and resilience. These are all vital skills that our children need now more than ever.
Of course, this is a pilot and so we have some questions to ask. Throughout the pilot we want to explore:
The Arts Backpack UK supports teachers in designing and delivering a programme of cultural wellbeing and resilience that will last long beyond our pilots. Teachers in all participating schools will be offered CPD across a range of art forms, as well as dedicated support from the teams at ACA and The Spark.
Our main partner for this pilot is The Spark Arts for Children, who have been delivering arts education across Leicester as part of the City Classroom since 2016.
The pilot has community at its heart – promoting the work of local venues and helping them to reconnect with the children, families and schools that they serve. We want to show children the world outside their front door - a world that has been closed for almost a year now!