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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.1 General context

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 07/12/2020 - 18:08

On this page
  1. Main trends in young people's creativity and cultural participation
  2. Main concepts

Main trends in young people's creativity and cultural participation

The Taking Part survey provides data on cultural and sporting engagement, collecting information on participation in the arts, museums and galleries, archives, libraries, heritage and sport for children aged five to 15 years of age and individuals over 16. It has been running since 2005 and is commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.  DCMS conducted a consultation on question changes in the Taking Part Survey (TPS) 2020/21. The public consultation ran from November to December 2019 and, in addition, DCMS sought responses from stakeholders directly. DCMS solicited feedback on plans to stop using the TPS to collect data on volunteering and charitable giving; child participation in sport. Following the feedback, DCMS will be removing the questions on volunteering and charitable giving as well as child sport participation. The Community Life Survey and Sport England’s Active Lives Survey will be used for this information.

The survey Headline findings from the Taking Part Survey: England Child Report, 2019/20 (covering young people aged between five and 15 years) shows the following trends:

  • In 2019/20, almost all children aged 5-15 (96%) had engaged with the arts in the last 12 months, similar to 2018/19.
  • In 2019/20, 96% of children aged 5-10 had engaged with the arts outside of school in the last 12 months. This was the same as in 2018/19 (96%), and there was no statistically significant difference in engagement between boys and girls in this age group, with engagement rates of 95% and 97% respectively.
  • In 2019/20, 96% of 11-15 year olds had engaged with the arts in the 12 months prior to interview, either inside or outside of school. This is a similar proportion to 2018/19 (97%). There was a significant difference in engagement between boys and girls, with engagement rates of 93% and 98% respectively, a difference not observed in 2018/19.

Barriers to accessing cultural experiences

The barriers to young people's participation in cultural experiences have been identified in a number of reports and reviews.  They are summarised below:

  • social, geographical, economic and psychological barriers are all cited in a 2015 study undertaken with children and young people
  • the level of accessibility of cultural performances for individuals with disabilities remains an issue, as highlighted in a 2015 data report from the Arts Council (note that this report does not specifically address young people).
  • Another 2015 report investigated the barriers to the arts specifically for disable and marginalised artists and writers in England. (note that this report does not specifically address young people) The main barriers to arts participation reported by disabled and/or marginalised survey respondents were noted to be financial, physical and social issues: » 29.25% respondents reported ‘admission costs’ and 24.79% noted ‘travel costs’ always to be an issue in preventing arts participation. 
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company for Arts Council England conducted research into 50 Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ schools to explore why and how they integrate arts and cultural education as part of a rigorous academic curriculum. The results were released in March 2020. This report highlights transport and location as a clear barrier to arts and cultural education: 

Case study visits gave clear evidence that location plays an important part in the schools’ access to high quality arts and cultural education. London schools clearly benefit not only from the wealth of cultural provision offered by a capital city, but also from TfL’s free transport scheme for school groups.  A non-supportive culture was also referenced as a barrier, and the arts not being treated with equal importance to other school subjects.


Main concepts

The Culture White Paper, published by the then Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2016, frames the value of culture in three key ways:

  • intrinsic value: culture is enriching in and of itself, contributing to individuals' personal well being.
  • social value: culture improves educational attainment and helps individuals to be healthier, fostering community cohesion and strengthening social relationships.
  • economic value: culture contributes to economic growth through skills acquisition and job creation.

It covers the changing nature of culture:

culture no longer simply means being familiar with a select list of works of art and architecture, but the accumulated influence of creativity, the arts, museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage upon all our lives.

The paper highlights the importance of visiting, attending and participating in culture and cultural activities. It affirms the value of taking part in cultural activities either as an artist/creator or as an audience member/consumer.