Cultural Learning Alliance

The arts fuel children’s curiosity and critical capacity. They are every child’s birthright. It is vital that children engage with the arts early in their lives.

Arts Council England
Achieving Great Art for Everyone, 2011


Cuts and Campaigning

Published 19 January 2011

Campaigns have been flourishing across the country this month and in this post we highlight some of the voices that have been calling for support for cultural learning.

This month there has been a flood of campaigning on behalf of fabulous libraries and literature projects for children and young people. Over Christmas, Booktrust was told that its entire grant from government would be cut, but successful arguments from writers and cultural learning professionals all over the country has now led to this joint statement and partial u-turn announcement. Here at the CLA we strongly hope that the new, agreed settlement will ensure that children and young people continue to benefit from inspiring books.

Library supporters have been making themselves heard across the country, with The Independent and the Guardian both running pieces on the scale of the proposed cuts. The Independent shows that over 400 libraries are facing closure and The Bookseller has created its own facebook-based resource which you can use to find campaigning activity and information about your own patch.

London Councils announced in early January that they plan to cut their entire arts budget of £3million, a real blow for cultural learning and to the arts sector as a whole. The Stage reports here.

The University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, has cut four arts courses as a result of the changes to higher education funding – something we are sure to see a lot more of in the coming months. The BBC reports the full details here.

Last weekend a range of celebrities and leading arts and education professionals lent their voices to the debate over the scrapping on the Creative Partnerships programme with both the BBC and the Guardian running articles on the impact this will have on young people and schools, particularly the disadvantaged. Sir Ian McKellen calls on all head teachers to keep their doors open to arts organisations and partners ‘as a way of showing young people that there are people who care about them in the world beyond their school.’

We know that a lack of engagement with culture will lead to an impoverished society, lacking in innovation, inspiration and imagination, but there is increasing evidence that the cuts are having the greatest impact on the most deprived children and young people. This month the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services published a really useful report which breaks down the cumulative effect of cuts across different Government departments. Children and Young People Now looked at the geographical spread of local authority cuts and concluded that young people most in need will bear the brunt of the reductions , a theme that Polly Toynbee expanded upon in the Guardian.

The Cultural Learning Alliance believes in equality of opportunity for all children and young people. We want to live in a society where every young person is treated fairly and is given an entitlement to the tools and experiences that will allow them to lead a full and happy life. We therefore urge government, decision makers, organisations and practitioners to reverse this trend and pro-actively allocate their resources and design programmes which target and reach these young people. Access to culture is an issue of fairness to the next generation and we must ensure that we are giving all individuals a fair chance at social mobility.


The short sighted nature of the cuts to cultural education is a tragedy for our young people, especially those from deprived backgrounds who struggle to gain access to any forum for self expression and recognition. Projects such as Creative Partnerships and youth work/ arts centre initiatives have been a life-line for disenfranchised and disadvantaged people, especially the young, for many years now. Opposition to this dismantling of our cultural service to young people must be mobilised, Why aren't we out on the streets like the students?
bridie Moore 21 January 2011
For the last decade the UK has been the envy of many countries around the world for it's commitment the creativity and the arts for young people. The UK has showed leadership by investing in large, national programmes that show collective positive impact. For the world leaders in this field to fail to continue to invest is a tragedy not just for the UK but also for those of us around the world.
Fiona Forrest 03 February 2011

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COE Literacy Project 09. Photo Jeanette Bushell
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