Camden Spark launch event a success

The launch of Camden Spark took place on 13th of June 2016 at the Wellcome Collection

The event was a great success with the number of delegates exceeding our capacity and a few people having to stand for some sessions! This demonstrates the appetite and enthusiasm for Camden Spark.

Thanks to all of those who joined us, and we will aim to get a bigger space for the next event.  


Photo (left to right): Cllr Angela Mason, Richard Harrison, Laura Gander-Howe, Professor Maggie Atkinson, Rob Earrey, Cllr Richard Cotton.

Photo (left to right): Cllr Angela Mason, Richard Harrison, Laura Gander-Howe, Professor Maggie Atkinson, Rob Earrey, Cllr Richard Cotton.

Keynote Speakers included:

Cllr Angela Mason - Cabinet Member for Children, LB Camden and Cllr Richard Cotton - Deputy Mayor, LB Camden who both demonstrated their pride in Camden being the home for this exciting cultural education partnership. Cllr Mason said it was her dream that every child in Camden was born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth and was given the opportunity to sup from the rich array of cultural opportunities that our borough provides.

This introduction was followed by:

Professor Maggie Atkinson - Former Children's Commissioner for England and Chair of A New Direction, who demonstrated the power of the arts to affect young people’s ideas and aspirations and highlighted the disparities in access across the country.  She urged school partners to proclaim the value of the arts in their own schools, and to continue to ensure that arts and culture are mainstream and not sidelined within school curriculums. 

Laura Gander-Howe - Director, Children, Young People and Learning at Arts Council England talked about the work of A New Direction in London and the recent formation and development of Cultural Education Partnerships across the country and expressed that others could learn a great deal from the work we have been doing in Camden.

Dame Margaret Hodge DBE MP - Former Minister for Culture, the Creative industries and Tourism in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport talked about the vital place of creativity in early years foundation stage education.  She echoed Maggie Atkinson saying that it was vital that creative and cultural education was a feature of the school day for all young people, not an add on dominated by the middle classes.  She also stressed the value and importance of the Creative Sector to our economy. 

After the rousing start delegates split off into brilliant creative workshops: Ideas4Experiments with Rhyl Primary School and Camden Arts Centre, a spotlight on the schools work of the Wellcome Collection and a chance to develop ideas for their future schools’ engagement. The atmosphere was buzzing with creativity. 

There was also a chance to meet the Camden Spark Board and discuss the future development of the project. Discussion focused around the need in the current financial / political climate to continually make the case for high quality access to a cultural curriculum for all young people. Delegates also discussed the power of culture and creativity to contextualise learning in other curriculum areas. 

Delegates felt Camden Spark had an important role in advocating to schools the importance of creative & cultural learning opportunities and helping to reach new schools and let them know how arts organisations can help with teaching and learning. A priority was also identified in supporting schools and cultural organisations to write funding bids to do take ideas forward. 

Feedback from delegates within schools included a desire and commitment to present to other staff and governors in order to convince them that arts are as important as literacy and numeracy. 

Some delegates from arts and cultural organisations felt it would be useful to be able to approach Camden Spark with their own ideas and priorities and get help to find those partner schools with whom to develop ideas. 

Final remarks and closing comments were delivered by Amy McGann - Strategic Lead Camden Spark - and Richard Harrison - Director of Community Engagement, Regent High School, Chair of Camden Spark Board.

Thank you very much for the Wellcome Collection for hosting this brilliant event. A great start to Camden Spark and we look forward to sharing more with you as our partnerships develop.

Feedback from delegates: 

“I found the whole afternoon really inspirational!”
“Well done for organising such a successful launch event. A great buzz in the room and lots of participation.”
“I attended the meeting earlier this week and was very excited by what I saw/heard.”