A wealth of evidence1 tells us that access to arts and culture from a very young age improves educational attainment as well as improving young peoples’ understanding of their place in the world, pride in where they live, and confidence to access culture later in life.
Current growth in Creative Industries (including advertising, architecture, the arts and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, interactive leisure software, music, performing arts, publishing, software, television and radio) has been dubbed the 4th Industrial Revolution2. We need to make sure children in Greater Manchester can be part of this.
The Creative Industries are worth an estimated £111bn per year to the UK3
Greater Manchester has poor levels of cultural engagement at 60.13% of the general population, compared to a national average of 60.27%4. Oldham, Rochdale and Wigan are more than 5% below the national average for cultural engagement, in contrast to 68.37% in Greater London, 66.61% in the West Midlands City Region and 62.23% in Liverpool City Region.
‘Cultural and creative learning is a vital part of any education. It gives children the confidence and capability that they will need in a world and economy that depends on the skills that it provides. It is a basic block in building the future of the UK as a whole.’
Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of TATE
When promoting cultural visits and activities to schools across the city region, the primary barrier to attendance is transport costs, which cannot be met due to squeezed school budgets with little inbuilt flexibility.
This barrier becomes even more acute in areas where parents and carers have limited financial resource and schools are therefore unwilling to pass on costs to families. Schools further away from cultural clusters such as Manchester City Centre are further disadvantaged due to distance and resulting higher transport costs.
This means that school children, particularly in areas of deprivation or relative geographic isolation, are not getting access to the rich cultural offer across Greater Manchester and have few or no opportunities to explore the world beyond their local area.
Culture Bus proposed using the yellow school bus fleet to make transport to cultural venues easier and cheaper. These buses are leased by Transport for Greater Manchester to private operators primarily for journeys to and from school. This means that during a large period of the day, from around 9.30am to 2.30pm, the vehicles are unused.