The concept of cultural entitlement – the notion that arts and culture is a basic human right for all young people – is intrinsic to many recent debates around engagement with arts and culture. It is also at the heart of A New Direction’s ongoing work aimed at ensuring that London is the best place in the world in which to have a creative childhood.
Our previous research has highlighted how a diverse range of factors including the city’s varying levels of cultural infrastructure and vast differences in wealth mean that opportunities for cultural engagement are not equally accessible to all young Londoners. We know that addressing issues of equity, access, and quality are a central concern if we are to ensure that all children and young people are able to enjoy a creative childhood. But, in order to address these issues, we need to understand:
- how we decide which interventions, practical solutions, and partnerships will have the most impact;
- how we identify, and subsequently support, promote, and exploit the elements which need to be in place for every child and young person to have the opportunity to learn about, engage with, and create cultural experiences;
- how we plan for culture in a place – who are the stakeholders in this discussion and how do their roles interact, correspond, or conflict?
With this exploration into the cultural learning ecology, we are interested in whether thinking about children and young people’s engagement with arts, culture and creativity as taking place in a joined-up ecosystem consisting of complex interactions, networks, and connections may offer useful insight into answering these questions.