Cultural Learning Alliance

In times of crisis, only imagination is more important than knowledge.

Albert Einstein
ImagineNation: The Case for Cultural Learning



What was your most memorable cultural experience when you were young and how has it stayed with you?

Below is a sample of your inspiring examples of the power of cultural learning. Please see the menu on the right for more videos and stories.

Kirsty Young, Broadcaster

Kirsty Young, Broadcaster
“Life isnĀ“t just about the practical”
Sue Wilkinson, Museums, Libraries & Archives Council

As a young child my most important cultural experience was being taken to the library twice a week. Books were a route into different worlds. I was particularly entranced by a series of books on the childhood of famous people – the young Elizabeth Barratt Browning; the young Elizabeth Fry. Drawn from diaries and memoirs they gave a surprisingly accurate (I discovered later) account of the childhoods of famous women – and it was only the women I was interested in. I think they showed me that the world I was growing up in was not necessarily the world I had to stay in for the whole of my life. I knew from a very young age that I wanted something more than seemed to be on offer in the town in which I lived – books and collections helped me to understand more about what I wanted and how to get it.
Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England

Brought up in a mining family in South Yorkshire, I grew up surrounded by cultural experiences. Dads, mine included, grew and competitively showed prize flowers as well as food. Many people’s parents were male voice or women’s choristers or brass band members. I learned to garden, cook, sew, shout at the local lower league football team, sing solo and ensemble pieces, play the piano, and appreciate local dramatic and operatic productions. My comprehensive school taught me to act, appreciate literature and art. Took me to museums and galleries as a matter of course. All these influences are part of my very being. They inform how I do my job, love my family, pursue my adult cultural interests with the same passion as I did then, and value my origins. And I’m delighted to say that I could no more single out just one event from this rich palette, than fly!
Helen Chambers, National Children's Bureau

My first memorable cultural experience was at 10 years of age when I saw live theatre. I attended a travelling performance of Twelfth Night in a nearby secondary school hall with no stage or lighting, with cut out orange trees providing the backdrop to Tudor costumes of cross-garters and cross-dressing. Suddenly the dry text pages made sense as they were given life, meaning in action and movement. I joined the drama society, was in school and house plays, and sat my Guildhall exams – as well as gaining the school English prize. My second cultural experience was in the 1st form at grammar school when taken to a visiting symphony orchestra playing I know not what at the Palace Theatre in Newark – but sat on red plush seats, next to my best friend Ro. Did those musicians really have to do boring piano and squealy violin practice or were they born like that? I learned that I love music – but didn't have the patience to perfect the art. Ro did and she still is my friend.
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