Evaluating the Arts Council Cultural Citizens Programme
The Cultural Citizens programme was a commitment in the Government’s 2016 Culture White Paper. The focus was on raising young people’s awareness and knowledge of arts and culture, as well as developing their confidence to continue to engage with arts and culture in the future.
Funded by the Arts Council England, the Cultural Citizens programme worked with 200 11 to 14 year olds, who had low levels of participation in arts and culture, living in three areas – Barking and Dagenham, Birmingham and the North West (Liverpool and Blackpool).
The evaluation project
Renaisi was commissioned to evaluate the Cultural Citizens pilot programme with two main aims:
- To learn about how the Cultural Citizens Programme was being delivered in each pilot area and develop recommendations for its future rollout
- To understand the short-term outcomes and impact of the programme on young people and the organisations involved.
Evaluation methodology and practice
The evaluation had to capture a range of information over a short timeframe while working closely with the delivery partners (A.N.D; Studio 3Arts; Creative Barking and Dagenham; Kids in Museums and Curious Minds). We wanted to explore who was participating, what they did, what changed for young people, and the strengths and challenges of the programme delivery.
We also worked with a video ethnographer (Close-up Research) in one of the Liverpool schools, which involved accompanying the club on a visit, returning later to show young people the footage, and encourage them to reflect on their Cultural Citizens experience.
In response to the evaluation report, Arts Council England said:
Our evaluation demonstrated that the main aims of the Cultural Citizens programme were met:
- 774 young people took part, and 642 remained engaged to the end.
- 105 arts and cultural organisations were involved
- 544 young people achieved an Arts Award.
- 60% of young people said they would visit more arts and cultural venues in their spare time.
Our findings highlighted the enjoyment that young people got from their Cultural Citizens experience – many had the opportunity to take part in arts and culture outside of a school context for the first time. 97% rated the programme either ‘very good’ or ‘good’.
The ways that young people developed their knowledge and awareness of arts and culture through being supported to go to new places, review and reflect on their likes and dislikes, and be immersed in the details ‘behind the scenes’.
67% of young people said they developed teamwork skills, 65% said their confidence increased, and 55% improved their communication skills.