Young People's Cultural Journeys

This report from Arts Connect explores the cultural lives of young people aged 10 to 19 in the UK. It is based on a mix of qualitative research (with 207 children) and a region-wide quantitative survey (1,607 responses). The report looks at a number of areas:

  • Who and what influences young people's cultural choices.
  • Why young people engage with culture, and how they feel about it.
  • Barriers to engagement.
  • How digital technologies are impacting.

The report highlights the many ways in which young people think about arts and culture differently than before. One major change is a massive shift in the definition of arts and culture (something we have seen in our own Belfast Baseline research).

There are huge opportunities for cultural organisations who respond to the interests and needs of young people, and speak in a way that's relevant to them. The report outlines lots of steps we can all take to appeal to younger people's creative interests.

Embrace wider perceptions of ‘arts’ and ‘culture'

For young people, arts and culture does not necessarily sit within the formal subsided arts-sector as we know it. For them, arts is predominantly associated with visual arts but also includes graffiti, animation and tattooing/piercing. Definitions of culture include festivals, historic sites, carnivals and museums but also wider forms such as learning a language, fashion, food,and TV.

There is a disconnect between funded sector definitions of arts and culture and those of young people. Even defining them may prove problematic for an age range where there is a huge variety of available activities that may not be perceived to need categorisation.

Reach them early

Passion development starts early – all age groups peak before the age of 7 years when asked about the starting age for their favourite activity.

Engage family 

Families remain influential throughout young people’s lives. Young people are four times more likely to consume culture with family members than through school. 

Create a welcoming and social venue

Wifi, music, food and social spaces are key to engaging young people in having enjoyable experiences with their family and friends.

Cultural organisations need to balance stimulating programming and activities, with chilled out and welcoming spaces. Good wifi is essential - they want to share their experiences instantly on social media.

Provide cultural opportunities at a local level

Young people lead busy lives that are hyper-local. Arts, culture, creative and digital activities dominate young people’s free time, accounting for a third of all activities undertaken in their free time, followed by sport. Young people do not travel widely and often cite this as a barrier for many things. There are a lot of hyper-local sporting activities available to young people, but there's a possible gap when it comes to localised cultural opportunities.

Programme more opportunities in digital and fashion

Computer game design, vlogging, design/making fashion and films and website/app design are the top arts and cultural products that young people would like to create.

Break down emotional barriers

When it comes to participation and creation, emotional barriers are strong (225) with a lot of young people thinking they would not be good enough or being too shy.

This report from Arts Connect explores how people aged 10 to 19 relate to arts and culture.

Young Peoples Cultural Journeys

Download Report
(PDF 6,972KB)

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