We know that arts and cultural participation leads to a range of positive outcomes for children and young people, both in terms of their cognitive development and their wellbeing. Activities such as playing a musical instrument, performing in dance or drama, painting, sculpting or attending cultural performances, visiting museums and galleries during childhood, all contribute to improved educational attainment and improved social skills. Importantly, these experiences also help to develop many of the attributes necessary for a successful and fulfilling adulthood.
The opportunity to experiment with a range of art-forms and to engage with cultural expressions is not only fun for children and young people, it also helps them to develop confidence and social skills and gives them a broader world view. When these artistic and cultural activities take place within their local communities, there is potential to build local social networks, reduce loneliness and improve mental wellbeing.
Unfortunately, the benefits of childhood participation in arts and culture are not enjoyed equally amongst all children and young people. We know that those from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to be participate in these activities and they miss out on the advantages that a lifelong love of the arts can bring.
Arts and culture can be a powerful driver of social mobility so it is vitally important that vulnerable children and young people are given the encouragement and support they need to explore their creative talents and interests.
As a group, children and young people with care experience, as well as those who are young carers, are less likely than their peers to participate in arts and culture activities. They experience multiple disadvantages which are barriers to their participation. Poverty, parental ill-health, substance misuse and other familial and social factors combine to mean that many vulnerable children and young people are unable to access the types of arts and cultural activities they would like or they simply feel that arts and culture isn’t for ‘people like them’.
Future Paisley is committed to widening access to the arts locally and to supporting vulnerable children and young people to enjoy and benefit from the cultural re-generation of Paisley. As part of its response to The Promise, Future Paisley has allocated more than £150,000 over 27 months to support the participation of care experienced children and young people, as well as young carers, in the establishment of Paisley as a centre of excellence for cultural regeneration.
The funding will allow the recruitment of an ‘Arts and Culture Participation Worker’ dedicated to supporting local care experienced children and young people and young carers, to participate in and contribute to the cultural and social re-generation of Paisley.
The post-holder will work consult with local children and young people to find out what kind of activities they want to participate in and to identify what supports they might need to do so. The project will then work with local statutory and independent providers to develop and fund a variety of activities.
We recruitment to the post has begun and aim to start work on the project early in 2022. We’ll keep you posted!
Karen Nowland is Quality Assurance & Practice Development Manager at Renfrewshire Council.