Author: Mimi Doulton

Introducing ACA Young Voices

Introducing ACA Young Voices


We are thrilled to announce the launch of ACA Young Voices. A panel of 13 inspirational young people aged between 7 and 17, launched in memory of our late patron Sir Ken Robinson.

We will be working with our Young Voices to tackle the topics that matter to them, gathering their opinions and ideas and sharing them with the wider world. This is part of our long-held commitment to place children's voices front and centre in conversations that concern their future.

The full video made by our Young Voices to launch as part of Imagine If... will be available soon.

ACA selected for the Aviva Community Fund

ACA selected for the Aviva Community Fund

ACA selected for the Aviva Community Fund

We are thrilled that our Leicester pilot of the Arts Backpack UK has been selected for the Aviva Community Fund. This is a crowdfunding campaign with a difference – alongside your donations, Aviva employees will be allotted company money to donate to causes of their choosing! Please help us reach our target by donating and sharing with any Aviva employees you may know:

Our main partner for this pilot is The Spark Arts for Children, who have been delivering arts education across Leicester as part of the City Classroom since 2016. The pilot has community at its heart – promoting the work of local venues and helping them to reconnect with the children, families and schools that they serve. We want to show children the world outside their front door – a world that has been closed for almost a year now!

Throughout the pilot we want to explore:

  • the effects of creative activities on building resilience in primary-school age children;
  • how we can use creative learning to give children the language to reflect on and respond to experiences of the last year;
  • how best to support teachers in delivering a creative curriculum;
  • the value of connecting local schools to their local arts organisations – finding local, culturally relevant and relatable solutions to local problems.

Our funding target is £2,500, with a stretch target of £5,000 which will enable us to evaluate in even greater depth. Whether it’s £1 or £100, please give what you can to help us bring the Arts Backpack UK to Leicester in 2021:

A statement from Action for Children’s Arts for Children’s Mental Health Week

A statement from Action for Children’s Arts for Children’s Mental Health Week

A statement from Action for Children's Arts for Children's Mental Health Week

Children are at the heart of our charity. We wish that society and politicians would do the same, and put children first.

The current mental health of our children is a huge concern. Prior to lockdown, one in six children had a probable mental problem.1 Who knows how this figure will have escalated when we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

We cannot provide answers but we can reach out to all the parents and carers who are doing their best to help their children cope with adversity and adapt to change. Please know that we respect and admire you.

We urge politicians to accept that alongside the learning deficit, it is important to allow our children to catch up with the fun deficit. Extra work and no play will not make children clever. Education and health are closely linked – pupils with better health and wellbeing are likely to achieve better academically.2

We must find ways to keep children socialising safely, to enable them to let off steam and have adventures with their peers.

The arts have an important part to play in every child’s life. Dance improves their physical health and self-esteem, drama improves social skills, learning an instrument helps them to cope with stress, and creating visual art helps them to develop a sense of identity and increases resilience.3 These are all vital skills that our children need post-pandemic.

We will be exploring how the arts can play their part in the recovery curriculum as part of Arts Backpack UK pilots. We hope that the government will follow our example and give every child the creative nourishment they deserve.

Let the arts into their lives, to help to heal us all.

Vicky Ireland MBE FRSA, Chair of Action for Children’s Arts

A plea for donations:

If you feel able to support our pilots of the Arts Backpack UK, please donate here:

The Year in Review: 2020

The Year in Review: 2020

The Year in Review

January 2020

The year got off to a wonderfully normal start with Members’ drinks at SAMA Bankside. We were delighted to be joined by ACA Patron Michael Foreman, who together with our President David Wood OBE gave a fitting tribute to our much-loved and much-missed Patron Terry Jones, who passed away on the 21st of January. We were also able to raise a glass to ACA Patron Baroness Floella Benjamin, made a Dame in the New Years’ Honours.

February 2020

We received the first instalment of Arts Backpack UK funding from Fife Council.

March 2020

The pandemic struck, and the world changed overnight. We started sharing a weekly round-up of creative activities for people who were home-schooling; as well as a list of emergency funding resources for our practitioner members.

April – May 2020

We started crowdfunding to support the children’s arts community. Thanks to the generosity of members, patrons and friends of ACA, we raised an amazing £4,000!

We distributed our crowdfunding efforts to twelve individuals and small organisations who were in desperate need of help. You can find out more about the Covid-19 fund recipients here: Children’s Arts Covid-19 fund: recipients

“The award has given us a lifeline. Thank you again to everyone at Action for Children’s Arts. We hope to see you again soon when we can all meet up and celebrate but, meanwhile, we will continue to push for children’s arts to be central to the recovery from this dreadful pandemic.” – Teach it through Drama

June 2020

We sponsored ACA Development Officer Mimi Doulton to join the Freelance TaskForce. Mimi worked closely with the Theatre for Young Audiences, Musicians in Theatre, and Early-Career Practitioners groups, trying to enact positive change in our industry.

We would like to say huge thank you to Peter McKintosh, Theatre Designer for his very generous donation to ACA, from the sale of his artwork during June and July. His wonderfully kind gesture will help to ensure the charity’s survival and underpin our current and future endeavours.

July 2020

ACA launched a bursary membership scheme, sponsored by kind individuals who had bought a birthday candle in our twentieth birthday year. You can meet our first five bursary members here: ACA welcomes five bursary members. If you know someone who would benefit from a year’s free membership of ACA, please get in touch!

August – September 2020

We held four Zooms with ACA Members, exploring the following topics.

  • The Future of Working in Schools
  • Embedding Diversity into your Working Practice
  • Developing your Online Outreach
  • Gender and sexuality issues in our work creating arts for and with children

Thank you to our wonderful speakers, and to the more than 70 members who took part in these sessions. You can read the notes and recommendations from these sessions on the ACA website. Click here to read the notes.

We also sadly bid farewell to another ACA patron, the inspirational Professor Sir Ken Robinson. He is deeply missed by us all.

October 2020

Our Trustee Susan Whiddington received a CBE for her work with children and families at Mousetrap Theatre Projects! Congratulations Susan.

We also shared the launch of the ASSITEJ International Manifesto, based on ACA’s Children’s Arts Manifesto. This manifesto will raise awareness of children’s needs and rights to their own arts and culture, as is set out in UN Article 31. It is part of a global initiative to raise awareness of the importance of the arts in the lives of children and to draw attention to the fact that in so many countries, arts for children are not on any political agenda.

November 2020

November was a pretty big month! We were so excited to award the 2020 JM Barrie Award to ACA Patron Anna Home OBE, and incredibly grateful to everyone at the BBC and Dock10 for their help in producing our first online awards. You can still watch the ceremony on YouTube, just click play on the video:

November also saw the long-awaited launch of our first Arts Backpack UK pilot in Fife, Scotland! We are looking forward to working with six primary school classes for the next four months, introducing them to a range of quality cultural experiences online. You can find a full history of the Arts Backpack, along with monthly updates here: The Arts Backpack UK

Our thanks to Fife Council and the Haberdashers’ Company for funding this pilot.

December 2020

In December, we were so honoured to announce Kate Robinson as a new patron of ACA. “I am absolutely delighted to be a patron of Action for Children’s Arts. The work of ACA was so dear to my Dad’s heart, it is a privilege to be able to continue it.”

Last but not least, we had a wonderful festive celebration with some of you on Zoom! Thank you to everyone who took the time to pop in and say hello.

Until next year…

PS! We couldn’t have done any of this without the support of our wonderful members. If you are in a position to do so, please click here and join today.

ACA welcomes new patron

ACA welcomes new patron

ACA welcomes new patron

Head and shoulders shot of young, smiling woman with brown hair in a bun, red lipstick and a black cowl neck top.Action for Children’s Arts is thrilled to announce that Kate Robinson has become a patron of the charity. She is stepping into the shoes of her late father: Professor Sir Ken Robinson, who sadly passed away in August.

“I am absolutely delighted to be a patron of Action for Children’s Arts. The work of ACA was so dear to my Dad’s heart, it is a privilege to be able to continue it.”

Kate is an international consultant in creativity and innovation in education and the Director of Nevergrey. Her expertise lies in raising the profile of inspiring initiatives, with a particular focus on start-ups and building strong partnerships with a social purpose. Her passion lies in engaging youth voice, and through this work she has been awarded for Outstanding Contribution to Education Empowerment. Kate and Nevergrey are committed to continuing and magnifying Sir Ken’s legacy.

Speaking about Kate’s new role with ACA, Chair Vicky Ireland MBE said:

 “ACA is so lucky. We go forward with Kate at our side, a wonderful new, young Champion.”

Arts Backpack pilots begin in Fife

Arts Backpack pilots begin in Fife

Arts Backpack pilots begin in Fife

We are delighted to announce that the Arts Backpack UK began its first pilot in six Fife primary schools at the beginning of November. We are looking forward to working with around 200 students and teachers at: Cowdenbeath Primary School, Kelty Primary School, Benarty Primary School, Hill of Beath Primary School, Cardenden Primary School and Fulford Primary School.

Over the next four months, classes will be able to select activities to go into their Backpacks from our directory of online resources. This includes activities from ACA Members Theatre Alibi and Magic Lantern; Scottish arts organisations Imaginate and Scottish Opera; and national and international institutions such as Google Arts and Culture. In addition to this, each class will have the opportunity to commission a piece of online content from one of our partners in Scotland.

Everyone at ACA is so proud to be pushing ahead with this first pilot, despite the challenges presented to us by Covid-19. Although the pandemic has limited our possibilities to work face-to-face, it has truly widened the horizons of what arts and culture are available for children to experience online. We look forward to sharing these experiences with our students in Fife over the next four months.

A plea for donations:

If you feel able to support future pilots of the Arts Backpack UK, please donate here:

You are ALL invited!

You are ALL invited!

You are ALL invited!

Anna Home looking out of a window, wearing a yellow sweaterThis year, the Action for Children's Arts JM Barrie Awards have gone digital, and you are all invited! Join us on YouTube on 19 November at 5.15pm to celebrate the incredible lifetime achievement of Anna Home OBE. This award is being presented in recognition of her outstanding contribution to children's television.

How do I watch? 

Click this link to watch the 2020 JM Barrie Awards:

Do I need to arrive before 5.15pm? 

We would recommend clicking the link at 5.05pm, so that you can join in with the live chat and make sure all your tech is working before the screening begins!

Can I watch it later? 

Yes, after the premiere screening, the video will be available to watch via the same link.

How do I comment along? 

If you are signed in to YouTube or your Google account, you will be able to join in with the live comments during the premiere at 5.15pm. These comments usually appear on the right hand side of the screen. You can also join the conversation on Twitter with #JMB2020.

I have access needs - can you help?

English captions will be available via the CC button at the bottom of your screen. If you have additional access needs, please email and we will do our best to help you.

A plea for donations:

The JM Barrie Awards is usually a key event in our fundraising calendar. This year, we cannot shake buckets at you, or run our annual raffle. PLEASE donate if you can:

Shadow puppetry

Shadow puppetry

Project Title

Shadow puppetry

Build your own theatre and make shadow puppets!

Partner Organisation: Little Angel Theatre
Art-form: Puppetry
Lesson plan included? No
Number of lessons (60 minutes): 4
Partner activities: Scoops Space; How to make a pocket theatre; Making paper puppets
Covid-secure advice: where possible children should use their personal equipment
Difficulty: Advanced