Unlocking Culture: an entitlement for children and young people

The 2019 Engage International Conference will take place in Newcastle and Gateshead from Tuesday 5 – Wednesday 6 November.

The arts and culture provide a lens through which children and young people develop their understanding of themselves and of the wider world. It creates a space for children and young people to shape their thoughts, feelings and their futures. Access to the arts is a fundamental human right, and yet many children and young people, particularly those who are most marginalised, do not have this opportunity. With this in mind, the Engage 2019 Conference draws its inspiration from City of Dreams, a ten-year programme which gives every child and young person in Newcastle and Gateshead access to arts and culture.

Key contributors at the conference will be young people, whose voices will build a UK-wide picture of what they need and how cultural access can be delivered on their terms. Examples of best practice will focus on innovative work that helps children and young people overcome the barriers they encounter and embrace them as leaders and as co-creators. UK and International experts will showcase ways of working with SEN children and young people and those facing challenging circumstances such as rural isolation and socio-economic deprivation.

There is a growing call to diversify the cultural workforce and to provide accessible pathways for children and young people into the creative economy.  Activists, mentors and digital innovators will highlight ways of supporting young people into creative careers. The conference will offer tangible ideas and case studies. The event will be useful for anyone working in cultural education, particularly those involved in gallery and heritage education from across the UK and beyond.

Above all the conference will be a call to action. Engage was founded thirty years ago, in the same year that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was published. This is an opportunity to reflect on what is different for children and young people now, what the future may hold and consider how partnerships and new ways of thinking can bring about real change.

Watch this space for further announcements about the programme, how to book your place, bursaries and accommodation discounts.