CNA Knowledge Bank

Step by step: arts policy and young people 1944–2014

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Step by step: arts policy and young people takes a historical stance on the development of government policy in the UK designed to increase arts engagement by children and young people and provides key recommendations to ensure that the lessons of the past are taken into account by policy makers in the future.

Few people nowadays would question the importance of ensuring everyone – child or adult – is able to benefit equally from the arts.

An ever-growing body of evidence demonstrates the positive impacts the arts have on children’s emotional, educational and creative development.

Yet despite successive governments making young people’s engagement a priority, data continue to show that arts audiences of all ages do not reflect the make-up of the wider population: they tend to be better educated and more affluent.

There is clearly still work to do: an ‘engagement gap’ to overcome and a need to ensure that government policy enables all children to access the arts, encouraging and instilling in them a familiarity and affinity with the arts.

Policy will do this most effectively if it is historically informed.

King’s College London.

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