The Cultural Citizens Pilot Programme tested ways to increase opportunities for 600 young people who would not normally have access to museums, galleries, theatres, or other cultural experiences.

The programme was announced in August 2016 by Arts Council England and the Department for Culture Media and Sport, and was one of the key proposals from the Culture White Paper. Curious Minds was delighted to lead one of three pilot schemes across the country, taking place in Blackpool and Liverpool. Some of the participant schools in Liverpool have continued to run the programme following the successful pilot phase.

How Cultural Citizens works

Young people on the programme are supported to discover what is on offer and take the lead in planning five cultural experiences for themselves. The young people are supported to do this over ten sessions by two ‘Culture Coaches’, one from the school and one from the cultural sector, who act in a dual role as chaperones and mentors to the young people.

The Cultural Citizens programme is designed to enable the young people to be proactive in making and reflecting upon their choice of arts and cultural visits. They will develop the practical skills, knowledge and agency to enable them to develop a lifelong love of the arts. They will also work towards an Arts Award qualification, and join together in each area to reflect and celebrate their achievements at the end of the programme.
Cultural Citizens NW – Celebration Event
The young people also provide valuable feedback about their experiences, to help us understand the opinions of young people who don’t routinely access arts and culture.

The North West pilot launched in January 2017. The schools involved in the programme were:
Cultural Citizens NW logo


  • Kings Leadership Academy
  • Harmonize Academy
  • North Liverpool Academy
  • The Academy of St Francis of Assisi
  • The De La Salle Academy

The role of other local partners

Curious Minds worked in partnership with the Local Cultural Education Partnerships (LCEPs) in Blackpool and Liverpool, which have supported local activity and helped to identify and recruit schools in each area to participate in the pilot. 

Between January and July 2017, these schools supported two groups of ten students to take part in the programme. The groups chose to visit galleries, museums, libraries, cultural centres and theatres in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford; with some trips further afield, including to London.

National Evaluation

Arts Council England released an evaluation report of the national Cultural Citizens pilot programmes in 2018. It hailed the scheme a big success.

In the North West, 223 pupils aged between 11 and 14 were supported to choose, plan and go on cultural visits across the North West and beyond. Between them, they went to over 100 different events at 57 venues. The pupils each completed a Bronze-level Arts Award qualification and have provided valuable feedback for the venues, which will help these and other arts and culture organisations become more attractive to other young people.

Curious Minds Chief Executive, Derri Burdon said:
The North West's arts and culture offer is rich and diverse. We want to make sure that all children and young people benefit from access to our region's great cultural venues and experiences. A national roll out of the a Cultural Citizen's scheme would help make that happen.

Cultural venues

visited by young people

Young people

participated in the region
For further information about the Cultural Citizens Programme, please contact