Update from Camden Spark’s Strategic Lead, Amy McGann

I have been asked to write a brief update to fill you in on what has been happening behind the scenes at Camden Spark.


Some of you may know me from a past life in performance, teaching, work at Camden Council or as a school governor. Today, I write in my capacity as a freelance Arts Consultant. I have been commissioned by Camden Spark to help with the development of Spark, to strategically lead the organisation (soon to be a charity, but more about that later) and to leverage in new funding and opportunities for children and young people to access Camden’s vibrant cultural assets.

I have been spending my day a week developing the business plan, seeking out fundraising opportunities, and ensuring that we are working in partnership, sharing knowledge and opportunities with our local colleagues from the STEAM Commission, Camden Foundation, Camden Learning, Urban Partners and the Knowledge Quarter. There is some fabulous work happening! It is a long and arduous process to apply to be a charity but I think (I hope!) that we are almost there. Once we are registered, we hope to be eligible to approach more trusts and foundations to support our charitable objective.

As I write this on #internationalwomensday we have our very own Hannah Newman as a panellist talking about the trials and tribulations of being a woman working in the cultural sector. Diversity is what we live and breathe here at Camden Spark. It underpins our very existence. The board’s every discussion is founded in our vision: For all children and young people to benefit from a cultural education and have access to the fantastic creative assets of Camden and London

The ‘all’ is our focus. We strive for there to be equality of access to arts and culture and that this should not be for only those who go to a certain school or whose parents expose them to opportunities outside of school time.

This is what I am working with Hannah and the board to achieve:

  • For all children and young people in Camden to have access to a wide range of high-quality cultural opportunities at all ages.
  • To enable children and young people in Camden to have the tools to develop personal, social and technical skills through creative participation.
  • To find ways of helping children and young people access opportunities to progress into a career in the creative and cultural sectors.
  • To enable teachers to feel more confident collaborating and engaging with the cultural sector.
  • To work with teachers and school leadership teams – including governors – to help them to better understand how creative opportunities can support school priorities across the curriculum.
  • To support the cultural sector to connect and collaborate with schools in the most effective way
  • The above aims are our collective responsibility and here is where I urge you to join us. It’s a call to action….

Please get in touch if:

  • You have an idea for a project – we are fundraising now!
  • You think that what we are doing is making a difference - we need testimonials and case studies!
  • You can connect us to another school, another cultural organisation or someone with influence - we are growing!
  • You have heard of a funding opportunity or funder that might support our work - we need funding to commission and support great cultural education activity!
  • Know or can connect us to philanthropists or local businesses that may be interested in supporting children and young people to access high-quality arts and culture - we need resource to continue to do what we do!

Finally,  can I urge you all to read and share the Cultural Learning Alliance's recent report, Imagine Nation 2 - the Value of Cultural Learning, and here is a something from the report for you to pop in your pocket and pull out next time you are in a lift and need some hard facts to convince why this stuff is important:

  1. Participation in structured arts activities can increase cognitive abilities by 17%.
  2. Learning through arts and culture can improve attainment in Maths and English.
  3. Learning through arts and culture develops skills and behaviour that lead children to do better in school.
  4. Students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree.
  5. Employability of students who study arts subjects is higher and they are more likely to stay in employment.
  6. Students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school are twice as likely to volunteer.
  7. Students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school are 20% more likely to vote as young adults.
  8. Young offenders who take part in arts activities are 18% less likely to re-offend.
  9. Children who take part in arts activities in the home during their early years are ahead in reading and Maths at age nine.
  10. People who take part in the arts are 38% more likely to report good health.

(You can read the Key Research Findings in full at www.culturallearningalliance.org.uk/evidence).