Cultural Learning Alliance

My daughter was one of the performers. She is having a very difficult time at school at the moment; yesterday I saw her self-esteem grow as she walked through the stage door for the company warm-up. I wept

Parent of participant in one of The Sage Gateshead’s youth programmes



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.

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman, M&S

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman, M&S
“I probably couldn´t do what I do without it”
Malcolm Rigler, NHS GP, Swindon PCT/Trustee the phf

My mother was employed part-time in three homes in our avenue to clean and tidy the homes of some very well-travelled elderly people. As she cleaned and dusted their homes – when I was under five years of age – I enjoyed to look at and touch some wonderfully crafted art pieces – small bronze sculptures, pictures of battles and foreign parts. It was a museum experience week by week which has never left me these past 60 years.
Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery

I vividly remember visiting the Tate in the early '60s (aged 10 or 11) and spending time with the contemporary kinetic works in the collection. I found the optical illusions fascinating, and was very taken with how these works caused the eye to be deceived about line, space and colour. This was a new world for me, and matched with the wider popular excitement at contemporary discoveries – from hovercraft to space travel. I must have realised that the worlds of art and science were not totally separate and that creativity could span every part of human activity. I didn't think of any of this as learning – simply enchantment. My parents encouraged me to be very open to contemporary and modern art, and that this was not incompatible with being devoted to traditional skills. My father is a talented amateur watercolourist and I was lucky to have his encouragement in making art as well as looking at it. This idea – that we can all make things – has remained important to me.
Bridget McKenzie, Flow Associates

It's hard to recall one memory because I was lucky enough for my childhood to be filled with culture. My parents are arts educators, so there were museums, books, music and inspiring friends. We know parental influence is a vital factor in young people's confidence in exploring culture. To pick one memory, it's Edward & Ruth Barker's sculpture studios in Norfolk. My dad taught summer courses there. We kids hung out in their garden, drawing giant hogweed, squidging clay into tree bark, flicking through books about Picasso. I remember feeling that art was something we could all do, children and adults, as it was simply looking and playing, over and over. I was privileged, not because of any special talents, but because I lived with adults who knew how to keep art in their lives.
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