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East Kent report reveals demand for more children's cultural activities

Shepway Find Your Talent has announced the findings of its cultural audit, one of the biggest, in-depth surveys of young people’s engagement in and attitudes towards cultural activity.

12th November 2009

The audit, undertaken by 12,000 five to 18 year olds in the East Kent district of Shepway, reveals a high level of cultural engagement, spread quite evenly geographically and across socio-economic groups. The findings show that on average young people are taking part in seven different types of cultural activities on a weekly or more frequent basis with each secondary-age young person spending an average of five hours and 55 minutes per week in and out of school engaged in cultural activity.

The audit has identified a number of significant gaps in the provision of creative activities, which score highly in terms of their perceived enjoyment but which are not being participated in. The most sought-after cultural forms by children not currently participating in them include film making (30%) attending a live music event (30%) attending a theatre performance (25%) creating your own music (24%) and learning and regularly practising a musical instrument (24%). The findings suggest that there is latent demand for these activities, which Shepway Find Your Talent is now focused on addressing.

The findings were published on the day that 1,400 school children gathered in Folkestone’s Leas Cliff Hall in the largest cultural event yet staged with the support of Shepway Find Your Talent. Shepway is one of ten areas in England involved in Find Your Talent (www.findyourtalent.org), the government’s pilot cultural offer for all children and young people which aims to ensure they have access to the wide range of quality cultural experiences essential to unlocking their talent and realising their potential.

Shepway Find Your Talent, recognised for its best practice in the engagement of children and young people, will spend the remainder of its programme targeting the specific areas identified in the audit. It will provide more high quality opportunities for young people to increase their skills and enhance the flexibility they will need to succeed in later life and work.

Douglas Noble, Shepway Find Your Talent’s Project Director, said: “The audit shows that there is an enormous amount of creative activity already taking place in Shepway. Our role is to use the audit findings to inform our decision-making process and to meet the high demand for more opportunities that has been identified.

“We are already doing this in many areas, such as staging events at Quarterhouse, the Creative Foundation’s new theatre in Folkestone, and working with young people to develop film making, theatre, dance and music making activity, but there is a great deal more we can do. We are really struck by the creative talent of local young people and their level of interest in culture, which is spread evenly across Shepway. Our job is to make sure our young people are encouraged to further develop their creative talent.”

Paul Collard, Chief Executive of Creativity, Culture & Education (CCE), the organisation that manages Find Your Talent at a national level, said: “The Government pledge to deliver a five hour entitlement to cultural activity recognises the impact cultural experiences can have on young people contributing in powerful ways to personal development and raising aspiration however we know that not all children and young people are getting the same access to them. Access to cultural opportunity is too important to be an accident of geography or the privilege of a minority and Find Your Talent, in its first year, is already exploring various ways to overcome the challenges of in enabling all children to access culture. Shepway Find Your Talent has already put in place a range of cultural offerings for its young people and we look forward to seeing how this further develops following their local audit.”

Shepway Find Your Talent is run by The Creative Foundation in partnership with Kent County Council. For a free copy of Shepway Find Your Talent’s Cultural Audit Report visit the Shepway Find Your Talent section on the homepage of www.creativefoundation.org.uk.

Read the Headline analysis of Shepway's Cultural Audit here.