March Newsletter

March Newsletter

March Newsletter

We had a great time with members, Trustees, Patrons, Critical Friends and other industry professionals at our New Years' Drinks, hosted by SAMA Bankside!

The Arts Backpack UK - February Update

  • Pilots are on schedule to commence in Fife and Leicester from September 2020. We will be working with 7 schools in Fife, in partnership with Youth Music Theatre Scotland; and 4 schools in Leicester, in partnership with Spark Arts.
  • Planning is underway for a London pilot later in the 2020/21 academic year, in partnership with For Good, the charity associated with Wicked.
  • We have received over 200 responses to our children's survey, which was issued via First News in January. Our researchers Keda and Yasemin will be compiling this data to inform their research and evaluation processes.
  • We have received the first instalment of funding from Fife Council.

Chair's report

  • Congratulations to our patron Floella on becoming a Dame!
  • It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of our much loved patron, Terry Jones, an exceptional writer, and a unique creative spirit.
  • Vicky attended the Writer’s Guild GB Awards, and the Writer’s Guild GB Olwen Wymark Theatre Encouragement Awards 2020.
  • A group of TYA Theatre makers attended a meeting with representatives from Action for Children’s Arts, Theatre Education Forum, Theatre for Young Audiences England and Assitej UK with Anne Applebaum, Director of Children and Young People, Arts Council England. You can find full notes of this meeting below.
  • The Government are working hard to support Music Education and are calling for a music consultation. Maybe other art forms for children and young people should also strive to make their case heard by Government?

September News

September News

September News

What have we been up to...

We have held meetings with the Spark Arts in Leicester, Fife Council, the Jennie Lee Foundation, 11 by 11, the Open College of the Arts, and Wicked.

We have attended WhatNext, the Westminster Forum, the Cultural Campaigning Group and Tom Watson's Creative Industries Federation event.

ACA member Miranda Thain wrote an article about why she is a member of ACA.

The Hullabaloo stands in one of the 1% most deprived wards in the UK, many worlds away from the corridors of Whitehall and yet, through being part of an organisation like Action for Children’s Arts, we feel that we have a voice in influencing the future cultural opportunities of our children nationwide. It may just be a small corner of this confusing world, but together we can make it better.

ACA Chair Vicky Ireland MBE met the minds behind the Norwegian Cultural Rucksack in Oslo.

She also met the new children's laureate Cressida Cowell at the Chiswick Book Festival 2019. We love Cressida's charter for children's reading, which you can take a look at here.


News from the industry...

DCMS has published its annual Taking Part Survey, including the Child Report, which can be found here.

The CLA has written a paper on 20 years of Cultural Learning Policy in England. Click here to read it.

The Children's Commissioner has published a manifesto for children, which you can read here.


This is only part of the September newsletter. Click here to get the full thing to your inbox every month.

Why I support ACA: Miranda Thain, Theatre Hullabaloo

Why I support ACA: Miranda Thain, Theatre Hullabaloo

Why I support ACA: Miranda Thain, Theatre Hullabaloo

In a confusing world that often seems to share few of the things that you deeply value, it is important to find your tribe. This is why I joined Action for Children’s Arts, an organisation filled with passionate people who believe deeply in the value of the arts and creativity in the lives of children. Collectively, we engage with all stakeholders in childhood to advocate for that which we know to be true; that children need the arts, as we all do, to bring us together to entertain, provoke, challenge, delight and inspire. Education is narrowing just at the time when we need breadth and space for ideas. If we don’t allow young people that space to dream of a better world then how can they possibly make it real?

I’ve had the pleasure of working in children’s arts for my whole career, including for the last 12 years as Artistic Producer at Theatre Hullabaloo. I can’t imagine wanting to do anything else. Theatre Hullabaloo believes that creativity should be part of everyone’s childhood. I’d go even further and say that the magic that we all know from being part of the audience in a spine-tingling performance, or the way your mind is blown when an artist encourages you to turn your world view upside down, should be an entitlement of all children, whatever their background.

In 2011, when the first round of austerity hit children’s arts particularly savagely, I wrote in The Stage ‘Perhaps we can no longer afford that precious place in childhood where we have room to imagine?”

The Hullabaloo, our new venue for children and families which opened in December 2017, stands as a beacon for that place of the imagination. It is a building which is proud to recognise how important children are and to offer them spaces and art that is made specifically for them. These spaces are filled with the best of children’s theatre from around the world, attracting specialist artists, most of whom have given their lives to developing work and a relationship to their young audience which is as sophisticated as we know children to be. Fundamental to our vision is that The Hullabaloo is the meeting point for artists, children and academics so that we are not just making great art in creative collaboration, but also developing research which will impact on national policy around the place of creativity in childhood.

The Hullabaloo stands in one of the 1% most deprived wards in the UK, many worlds away from the corridors of Whitehall and yet, through being part of an organisation like Action for Children’s Arts, we feel that we have a voice in influencing the future cultural opportunities of our children nationwide. It may just be a small corner of this confusing world, but together we can make it better.

Theatre Hullabaloo presents TakeOff Festival, England’s leading festival of theatre for children and young people, 21-26 October (Delegate Festival 23-25 Oct, Durham City).

For more information about Theatre Hullabaloo visit

Miranda Thain, Artistic Producer, Theatre Hullabaloo

Why I joined ACA – Walia Kani

Why I joined ACA – Walia Kani

Why I joined ACA - Walia Kani

I was lucky enough to be a child in the 50s and 60s when arts were a full part of state primary education. I had Ivor Cutler as a drama teacher at junior school. And, without knowing it, learned songs from the opera Hansel and Gretel in infant school, where we also had a pottery wheel and kiln, despite being in the heart of London's deprived East End.

At secondary school there were free piano lessons, and group violin lessons, even for someone like me with minimal aptitude. Our school days were punctuated with orchestra, choir, school play rehearsals, painting sets, dying costumes. We were taken to see Maggie Smith play Beatrice while we rehearsed our all girls Much Ado.
As the decades have gone by I have seen these opportunities disappear from the school curriculum as it becomes more structured and controlled. So, when I  became aware of ACA through my niece I knew this was a good chance to give today's children the experiences I was lucky enough to have.
Walia Kani is a retired optician, based in Durham. She became a member of ACA in July 2019.
It only costs £2.50/month to support our cause. Click here to become a member and join our community.

August News

August News

August News

What have we been up to...

We have held meetings with the Spark Arts in Leicester, Fife Council and Sunderland Empire. We are looking forward to meeting the Open College of the Arts, 11 by 11 and Sunderland Empire in September.

We are also looking forward to attending the Creative Industries Federation event with Tom Watson MP and the Cultural Campaigning Group.

ACA Critical Friend Dr Chris Abbott has written a response to the government report An Unequal Playing Field. Read his full response here.

Since Janet's appointment we have been exploring the co-working spaces in London's theatres, galleries and concert halls. Development Officer Mimi Doulton decided to make the most of the opportunity and has created a short guide to some of London's co-working spaces here.

ACA Chair Vicky Ireland MBE and ACA Trustee Chris Jarvis were delighted to meet Emmerson at the Delfont Room, ahead of this year's JM Barrie Awards (pictured at the top of this newsletter). Emmerson is our young presenter for 2019 and will be working alongside Pui Fan Lee.

We are delighted to have welcomed three new members! Writer and illustrator Rod Campbell, creator of the acclaimed Dear Zoo said:

'I am pleased to support ACA in your work in making the arts available to all children as a fundamental part of their development.'

To become a member of ACA, click here.

This is only part of the ACA August newsletter. Click here to get the full thing in your inbox every month!

Co-working spaces in London

Co-working spaces in London

Co-working spaces in London

Since the appointment of interim CEO Janet Robertson, we have been making the most of co-working spaces across London. As we prepare to move into a slightly more permanent base, here are some of our findings.

The Barbican Centre

The ground floor space (pictured above) is a bit touch-and-go, depending on what exhibitions and events are taking place. However, on a good day there are nice long tables and reliable Cloud-based WiFi. Plug sockets are  slightly harder to come by. There are further working areas on the first floor, and if you are looking for a quiet space - there is an excellent room at the back of the Barbican Library on the second floor (in the Music Library).

Convenient food and drink is available from Barbican Kitchen, the Benugo café, or - if you're feeling fancy - one of the restaurants near Lakeside. On the subject of Lakeside, this is a lovely spot to enjoy some natural light and time away from your computer screen!

The Roundhouse, Camden

This is a lovely, quiet spot to get some work done less than half an hour from Waterloo, King's Cross and Paddington. The WiFi is excellent, and the café is light and airy. There are lots of small tables at the front of the café, and longer ones around the back, which you can apparently reserve!

The food options are rather limited (toastie, anyone?) but tasty nonetheless, and there are plenty of naughty snacks to enjoy on the go. We spotted a number of plug sockets around the place and it never seemed so busy that you couldn't get to one. Well worth the journey to the edge of zone 1.

The Royal Society of Arts

If you happen to be a member (or know someone who can let you in), the home of the RSA just round the corner from Embankment tube is an oasis of calm in central London. With plenty of nooks and crannies for small meetings, excellent WiFi and a lovely café, you are sure to find everything you need here.

Crypt at St Martin in the Fields

A nice cool underground space for a hot summer's day... And we imagine a cosy space on a winter one! If you don't mind the company of a few brass-rubbers, this is one of the quieter co-working spots in London.

That said, it lacks phone signal and the WiFi is also rather unreliable. We can vouch for the excellent food however. A good place to work offline, or maybe catch up on some emails. Not so good for uploading or working in the Cloud.

The Young Vic

An ACA favourite for many years, this café boasts tonnes of natural light, a roof terrace, and a brilliant range of food and drink on offer at a number of price points. With this excellence comes popularity, and unfortunately the WiFi suffers somewhat for this. There are also no plug sockets on the ground floor, and only two or three upstairs (they're on the ceiling!) so if you need a charge you have to be stealthy.

A very convenient central London location and a great place to bump into other arts and culture professionals.

Pret a Manger

We couldn't really write this article without a short tribute to Pret a Manger - host to many ACA meetings over the years. The WiFi is invariably excellent, the chairs are comfortable, and the food is reliable. Getting a password for the bathroom is mildly inconvenient but we'll forgive them this.

What's more, they seem to be popping up everywhere - meaning you can be sure to find a reliable co-working space, wherever you may be.

(As an aside, if you have a lovely local café with good WiFi, we strongly encourage you to support them!)

Potential Trust conference – Chair’s report

Potential Trust conference – Chair’s report

On 13-14 November 2018, ACA was generously hosted by the Potential Trust at Hawkwood House for a conference. The Potential Trust is an educational charity, which labels itself as a ‘centre for future thinking’ and gifts organisations with the space to discuss ideas pertaining to children and young people.

On the first day of the conference, guests presented practice and experience from the organisations they were representing. This included discussion of ACA’s Listening to Children and Arts Backpack projects. Emerging themes during the morning were the isolation of children and how the arts has the power to reverse this issue; how the arts can improve wellbeing; the importance of participative theatre; and the emergence of libraries as cultural hubs – replacing lost facilities such as youth clubs.

Attendees agreed that early intervention can help prevent anti-social behaviour and the development of mental health issues, and that a stronger case needs to be made for the role of arts education – beginning with early-years – as one of the preventative measures.

There was also a lengthy discussion about the need for all the voices within the arts advocating for children’s cultural rights to seek to come together and to work to understand better why they are currently not being heard and failing to persuade policy makers of the importance of the Arts for all children.

Other topics included Drama Advisors (who used to work in local councils to support teachers); the benefit of the arts for gifted children; and the cultural heritage values of arts.

Those in attendance were: Anna Comino-James (Potential Trust), Elizabeth Greaves (ACA Member), Jamila Gavin (ACA Patron), Janet Robertson (ACA Trustee), Vicky Ireland (ACA Chair), Krystyna Budzynska (Royal Academy of Music), Lucy Nicholls (ACE Theatre Change Maker), Matthew Crowfoot (Polka Theatre), Penny Hay (5x5x5=creativity), Pete Dowse (Chickenshed), and Gemma Bhagalia (The Spark Arts).

Children’s Arts News: 30 July

News from ACA Patrons:

Floella Benjamin to give BookTrust annual lecture – ACA Patron Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE will deliver this year’s BookTrust Annual Lecture. Her lecture will take place on 11th October at Royal Institute of British Architects in London.

Jacqueline Wilson Creative Writing Prize 2018 – ‘I’d wanted to find a special friend ever since I came here. However, I never thought I’d find such an amazing one! …’ If you know someone aged 7-12 with a story to tell on the theme of unlikely friendships, encourage them to enter by 14 September.

Michael Rosen on making children laugh – ‘Making children laugh isn’t terribly difficult. You just have to understand where the laughter is coming from, and why it’s necessary in a child’s development. I’m no scientist, neurologist or psychologist, but I know it helps them find their way in life.’


Call for scripts – Beginning July 1, 2018, New Plays for Young Audiences seeks new unpublished and unproduced full-length play scripts for young audiences for their 22nd season, June 2019. The final date that submissions for 2019 will be accepted is October 31, 2018.

Free summer art workshops for children in Ulster University – Thanks to sponsorship from the Garfield Weston Trust in London, the university and graduates have teamed up to host a series of free art workshops for children, beginning on Thursday, August 9.

Aberdeen Maritime Museum offers music workshop – the workshop will be lead by a professional musician and is aimed at children aged 3-8.

More News:

What makes a school Outstanding? We asked pupils – TES puts Listening to Children into practice, asking schoolchildren what they think makes their schools outstanding.

School wins OPAL Gold Award for teaching children to play – Rosa Street Primary School has created a covered sandpit, mud kitchen, den building and dressing up area in its playground. Headteacher Helen Ashton said: “We wanted to teach children how to play, purposeful play is good for language, listening, speaking and cooperation skills.”

Hundreds of primary school children perform at Riversfest – The pupils, from schools in the Rivers CE Academy Trust, performed songs, gymnastic and dance displays. Kate Brunt, Trust Founder and CEO said:  “All of our Academy Schools have talented music specialists and were also supported by Paula Evans, our specialist singing and musical theatre teacher in the production of this spectacular performance.”

Tony Gouveia Remembered

Tony Gouveia Remembered

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the death of TYA practitioner, Tony Gouveia.
Tony was part of TYA and ASSITEJ UK for many years and recently became an Adviser for ACA.He was unique, hugely talented, charismatic and caring.
He was greatly loved and will be sorely missed.

TYA UK and ACA representatives attended his funeral.
He is a remembrance from his great friend and work colleague, David Johnston. Please click here to read it.

There will be a memorial for him in July, at the Arcola Theatre.

Details will be released nearer the time.