Access to the arts is a social justice issue.

Research shows that young people who participate in the arts are more resilient, healthier, do better in school, are more connected to their communities, are more likely to vote, to go to university, to get a job and keep it.

Access should be unaffected by class, income, race, disability, or location. But the complexity of engaging diverse groups of young people means many are missing out on opportunities.

The Arts Council England’s “Let’s Create” strategy

The Arts Council England’s 2020-2030 “Let’s Create” strategy shares their intention to “invest in a cultural sector that is more relevant to all of England’s communities, especially those that have been historically underserved by public investment in culture.” In 2021 Spotlight was awarded funding from the Arts Council England to explore challenges and approaches to engaging diverse groups of young people with arts programming. The research examines Creative Youth Work as a distinct practice, combining elements of Youth Work and creative facilitation.

Research findings

The report: “Creative Youth Work – Increasing inclusivity and relevance for young people accessing cultural provision” explores Creative Youth Work to answer the question: What is Creative Youth Work and how does it engage young people with the arts?

The youth and arts & culture sector can do more to create equal access to the abundant creative opportunities out there for young people. This report invites artists, youth workers, youth centres and cultural organisations to reflect on their own practices and relationships with young people and their communities.

Join the conversation. Tweet us your thoughts @weare_spotlight

Download the Report

Report Led by

Dr Caleb Lee
(QMUL Principal Investigator, Creative Youth Work Researcher)

Poppy Green
(Spotlight Creative programme lead)

Assisted by:

Elinor Whittle, Indie Max, Maya Hamidi-Jones, Amelia Wornell, Dominique Francis and Jordan Minga.

Research funded by 
Arts Council England.

This project was kindly supported by
Queen Mary University, The Roundhouse, The Albany, The Yard Theatre and Rich Mix.

About us

Spotlight is a creative youth space based in Tower Hamlets. We engage 4,000 young people a year with creative arts programmes that span Music, Media, Dance, Theatre and Visual Arts and Fashion. Alongside our creative programme we partner with NSPCC, Barnados, Safe East and the NHS to offer a robust support service for young people including an in-house GP offer. We’re based in Tower Hamlets – home to leading creative businesses, galleries and venues. Tower Hamlets is synonymous with the birth of grime music and will soon neighbour the East Bank – the UK’s newest Cultural Quarter which will provide new venues for the BBC, Sadler’s Wells, UAL’s London College of Fashion, University College London and the V&A. Tower Hamlets is also London’s fastest growing borough and has the highest proportion of young people 15-25 (16.2%). The borough also has the highest child poverty rate in the UK at 56%.