A new Direction

Helping young people with SEND achieve their creative potential

Some of London’s top cultural venues took part in a series of events celebrating the skills, talents and creativity of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). National cultural organisations, such as the English National Opera, as well as local art venues, hosted the first pan-London Cultural Ambassadors Week in June 2022.

We awarded a grant of £44,250 to the charity that organised the events, A New Direction, which supports children and young people to achieve their creative potential.

  • Just 7% of the cultural workforce are disabled, compared to 19% of working age adults (Arts Council England, 2020).
  • A New Direction has delivered inclusive arts programmes for over 1,600 children and young people in the last five years.
  • The Cultural Ambassadors Week reached 970 children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Showcasing young people’s talents

Cultural Ambassadors Week showcased and celebrated children and young people’s talents and included live events for families, the cultural sector and arts educators. As well as the main event, a work experience and mentoring programme was delivered in partnership with specialist employability charity My AFK.

Ten young ‘cultural ambassadors’ had the opportunity to develop skills for the workplace, including communication, team work, and problem-solving. They visited and advised venues on how to be inclusive and welcoming, as well as taking part in workshops alongside disabled artists, people working for disabled-led arts organisations, and creative practitioners.

There’s also be a toolkit to help cultural organisations become more accessible and inclusive.

“We were delighted to get involved in a project that helps break down the barriers preventing young people with SEND from achieving their creative potential – and inspires them to work in the cultural sector in future.”

Soma, Co-founder and Executive Trustee, Kusuma Trust

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