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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:

Why I support ACA: Sarah Argent

Why I support ACA: Sarah Argent

Why I support ACA: Sarah Argent

Last month, in the middle of this strange time with the global pandemic having a profound impact on the arts, I had the pleasure and privilege of being invited by Theatr Iolo (a company specialising in work for young audiences) to create - along with Kevin Lewis - a new piece of socially-distanced, Covid-safe outdoor theatre for babies and their carers. In a window of opportunity where the sun shone brightly and Cardiff had not yet gone into local lockdown, we performed to 18 audiences against the backdrop of the beautiful garden of Chapter Arts Centre. 
Those who experienced the performance told us: “It felt like everything in the world is back in line and feels good again.” “Realising that many families haven’t had this kind of communal experience with their babies in the last 6 months made it extra-special.”
These moving comments demonstrate what all ACA Members know so well - the absolute joy that communal and individual artistic experiences can bring to children - even babies as young as 3 months. 
Membership of ACA has brought me together with a group of people from different art-forms, who have different approaches to the creation of our art, who engage with communities in different ways in different parts of the UK, but who all share an unswerving and passionate belief that the arts can enrich the lives of our youngest citizens; people who are committed to creating and delivering cultural experiences that place children’s needs and desires at the core.  Discussions with and presentations by other ACA members keep me steadfast and true to these beliefs while also inspiring me and introducing me to exciting new ways of thinking about and making art for children. Thank you to all existing members and I look forward to new members joining us.

Anna Home OBE wins the 2020 JM Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award

Anna Home OBE wins the 2020 JM Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award

Anna Home OBE wins the 2020 JM Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award

Action for Children’s Arts is delighted to announce that Anna Home OBE has been named as the recipient of the 2020 JM Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award.

Anna Home looking out of a window, wearing a yellow sweater and orange silk scarf

This is in recognition of her outstanding contribution to children’s television. In a distinguished career spanning over 30 years at the BBC and ITV, Anna developed and commissioned programmes including Jackanory, Grange Hill, and Teletubbies. Anna is now the Chair of the Children’s Media Foundation, and a Patron of Action for Children’s Arts.

‘Thank you to ACA for this award. I am honoured to join the distinguished list of previous winners. The work ACA does is crucial, particularly now, in ensuring that children have access to, and participation in the arts – both inside and out of school.’

Anna will be presented with the award at a special online ceremony on 19 November 2020. She will be joining a roster of previous winners that includes Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE, Sir Philip Pullman CBE, and Stuart and Kadie Kanneh-Mason. The Award is given annually to a children’s arts practitioner or organisation in recognition of a lifetime’s achievement in delighting children.

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Apply for a free ACA Membership today

Apply for a free ACA Membership today

Apply for a free ACA membership today

We have twenty-five free memberships to give away to emerging artists and underrepresented voices!

We are the national voice of children’s arts in the UK. A voluntary organisation working with partners across the four nations to campaign for the right of every child to have access to the arts both in and out of school, regardless of their circumstances. We connect children’s arts practitioners, teachers, and thinkers. We celebrate YOUR work at our annual JM Barrie Awards.

As an ACA Member, you will be joining a network of over 150 freelancers and organisations from the children’s arts industry. Other benefits include:

  • a monthly newsletter rounding up industry news and our charitable activities

  • the opportunity to contribute to our campaigns

  • the chance to have your work showcased on our website and social media channels

  • regular networking events with other ACA members (these are currently online)

  • invitations to ACA conferences and round-tables

  • priority access to the JM Barrie Awards

We offer bursary members to emerging artists, recent graduates and those who are underrepresented in our industry. We do not currently offer bursary memberships to full-time students (however you can join as a student for £18/year). To apply for a bursary membership, please write a single-page covering letter outlining the following:

  • your current experience in children’s arts (please include dates of training)

  • why you have a passion for children’s arts / arts in education

  • how you believe an ACA membership would benefit you

  • what you might contribute to the ACA community

We strongly encourage applications from those who are currently under-represented in our industry.

Please email to apply. Memberships will be distributed on a rolling basis.



A Statement for the UK

Please read below this statement from Inc Arts.

Throughout August more than 1,000 people took Inc Arts’ #BAMEOver survey, and on 4th September over 250 people came together to reset the terms of reference for people with lived experience of racism.

We set out to answer the question, ‘What do we want to be called?’

Through our discussion we’ve come up with a guide to terminology, for use by everyone who wants to be an effective ally and wants to avoid causing further harm through the use of casual and inaccurate language.

Here are our preferred terms of reference for people in the UK. We urge you to use them and share widely.

BAMEOver: Our terms of reference

We do not want to be grouped into a meaningless, collective term, or reduced to acronyms.

We are African Diaspora people, South, East and South East Asian diaspora people, and ethnically diverse.

We are people who experience racism.

Use these terms in any order you choose.

Just don't call us BAME.

Rules for engagement

#1: Language is evolving. Deal with it. The terms we’ve agreed today may change in the future. Times change: come with us.

#2: Collective terminology is necessary: acronyms are not. Nobody wants to be reduced to an acronym. Especially an acronym that is inaccurate.

#3. We reject BAME. The term unhelpfully blends ethnicity, geography, nationality - and in doing so erases our identity and reduces us to an ‘other’.

#4. We reject ‘Minority: we are the global majority. And we reject ‘ethnic’. This terminology is centred on you seeing us as different.

#5. Call us by our name. Be specific. Understand the terms you use.

#6. We’re people first. Not a colour. Not a continent. Never say ‘blacks’ just as you wouldn’t say ‘whites’ (unless you’re talking about washing).

#7. People of Colour is a US term, as is ‘Black, Indigenous and People of Colour’. In the UK for many people over 35 this has uncomfortable resonance with the racist terminology ‘coloureds’. The ‘colour’ of one’s skin is not what we have in common, it is our lived experience of racism directed against us.

Terms of Reference
Here’s what to say…

Instead of ‘Asian’…

Asian’ can erase millions of people by not reflecting the rich diversity of culture and ethnicity that is in the continent. There’s a huge diversity of experience of oppression faced by those the term refers to.

Use ‘People of South Asian heritage’, ‘People of East Asian and South East Asian heritage’.

Instead of … ‘Black’

Many black people don’t object to being called black: for others it is not accurate enough.

Black is a political term, best used by those who meet the conditions of its description.

It speaks of collective action against racially motivated oppression. It includes those of African and Caribbean heritage.

If you mean Africans born in Africa, say so. If you mean third generation Caribbeans, say so.

Instead of ‘black’, use

African’ for those born in the continent,

African Caribbean’, ‘South Asian Caribbean’ and ‘East Asian Caribbean’ for those born in the islands,

African diaspora people’ for people of African and Caribbean heritage,

Or ‘People of African or Caribbean heritage’

Minority Ethnic’

What a mess. Let’s talk about who we mean.

There are many who experience oppression through racist action, including those of Romany heritage, or Irish traveller heritage, or Jewish heritage and some within this definition who are definitely not a ‘minority’ including Latinx– people of Latin American heritage, cultural and ethnic identity, and many more.

British Asian? Black British?

If you’re thinking of using these terms, ask yourself: do you mean those living in the UK? Or those born in the UK? If it’s relevant, say what you mean.

Let’s not erase the experiences of migrant communities. Phrases like ‘people of X heritage’ or ‘of the X diaspora’ includes migrant people without erasure.

Mixed Heritage?

People of mixed white and African diaspora heritage, people of mixed white and South Asian heritage, people of East Asian and Caribbean heritage… you get the idea. Say what you mean.

Too many words? Want an easy acronym? A simple collective term?

There isn’t one. We choose not to be reduced to an inaccurate grouping.

But what we have in common is that we are…

People who experience racism”. This term will require you to then articulate who you are referring to, and may, depending on context, refer to Western Asian people, Irish people, Jewish people and others whose oppression is not captured by current terminology. Please use with awareness the phrase ‘people who experience racism’, and don’t make it an acronym ever.

What if you don’t know?

If you’re referring to ‘people who are ethnically and culturally diverse, and who experience racism in our society’ be sure to qualify it with detail of who you are talking about: Latinx people? Romany traveller heritage people? Don’t use as a catch all without further detail.

All too difficult? Can’t be bothered?

The difference between saying ‘BAME’ and ‘people of South Asian heritage’ or ‘people who experience racism’ is approximately 2 seconds.

2 seconds is not too much time to devote to taking positive anti-racist action on a daily basis. Remaining actively conscious of the language we use is a powerful act of allyship.

A new manifesto for ASSITEJ

A new manifesto for ASSITEJ

A new manifesto for ASSITEJ

We are delighted to share with you 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. This 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.
Whilst they are on the UK's agenda, they are relatively low priority, and often drowned out by the clamour for adult arts. We need to raise the profile of children's arts and back the Manifesto, calling for a universal investment in children’s participation in cultural activity.
- Vicky Ireland MBE, Chair of Action for Children's Arts