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ACE launches scheme to partner 50 schools with arts organisations

Arts Council England chief executive Darren Henley speaking at in British Library earlier this year. Photo: Tom Pilston
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Arts Council England is to help create 50 new partnerships between cultural organisations and schools in areas that are most deprived of cultural access.

The scheme will enable them to share resources and create opportunities for young people to engage with theatre, art, music and culture.

Launching the scheme – titled the Cultural Education Challenge – chief executive Darren Henley urged arts and education leaders to collaborate more to ensure children are getting the best cultural access possible.

The new collaborations will be orchestrated by 10 ‘bridge organisations’ across the country such as the London-based A New Direction, who will help link arts organisations with local schools and authorities.

Henley said that extensive cultural education gives children “the confidence and creative skills to thrive, as individuals, as members of our society, and as the next generation of creative talent”.

He continued: “All children and young people, wherever and whatever their start in life, should have the opportunity to have an arts and cultural education that nurtures innovation and unlocks the vital skills that are helping to drive our world leading creative industries.”

The initiative was backed by schools minister Nick Gibb, who said that early engagement with the arts was “vital to producing well-rounded and well-educated individuals, able to make a positive contribution to this country’s rich cultural heritage”.

“That is why we have ensured the arts are a key part of a broad and balanced education for all young people,” he added.

The government’s education policy came under attack earlier this week from A New Direction chair Maggie Atkinson, who claimed not including the arts in the English Baccalaureate had furthered the subjects “marginalisation from the mainstream”.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said ACE’s Cultural Education Challenge would help children access the arts “regardless of where they live and go to school”.

He added: “I’m convinced better partnership working and a more strategic approach is key and I look forward to seeing the results of this vital new scheme.”

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