Pilot scheme offering free theatre trips for children launches

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A government initiative that will give more than 600 children in disadvantaged areas free access to cultural activities, including theatre trips, is being launched this week.

The Cultural Citizens Programme will be piloted in three areas – Barking and Dagenham, Liverpool and Blackpool, and Birmingham – with hopes that it will be rolled out nationally if successful.

First mooted in the culture white paper and announced by culture secretary Karen Bradley in August, the programme will be led by Arts Council England and delivered by local partners in each area.

A London event, held today (November 28) at the Barbican Centre, will launch the Barking and Dagenham pilot programme, which will be led by creative education agency A New Direction.

It will be delivered by Studio 3 Arts and Creative Barking and Dagenham, and will see 300 schoolchildren from across the boroughs experience a range of art forms, including attending clubs with professional artists, as well as achieving an Arts Award Bronze qualification.

Launching the pilot scheme, Bradley said: "London has some of the finest arts institutions in the world, and it is so important that young people can access the theatres, museums and galleries on their doorstep."

"The Barking and Dagenham scheme is one of three pilots in the country that will give hundreds of children the chance to enjoy our fantastic arts and culture, and inspire them to build careers in the sector," she added.

Cultural education organisation Curious Minds will lead the Liverpool and Blackpool pilot, with young people working with specially trained cultural coaches to plan visits to festivals and organisations including the Liverpool Everyman and Tate Liverpool.

Meanwhile, in Birmingham, 20 arts organisations will take part in the programme, led by Kids in Museums.

ACE chief operating officer Richard Russell claimed the programme would complement the body's existing programmes for young people, paying particular attention to ensuring that children in areas where cultural participation is lowest benefit from the arts.

"We hope it helps encourage a life-long love of the arts and culture, nurturing the next generation of artists and audiences," he added.

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