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This week is Children’s Art Week – a national programme to promote children’s participation and engagement in visual arts.

In their responses to the Children’s Commissioner’s survey The Big Ask – the largest-ever survey of children in England, receiving over half a million responses – children spoke about how much they enjoy art, and wish to pursue it as a career:

“My dream job is being an artist” – Girl, 8.

“I want to be an artist” – Girl, 12.

“I like drawing and painting– Girl, 11.

However, children explained how they sometimes feel dissuaded from pursuing a career in the arts, or feel that arts are not accessible to all children:

“People say that an artistic job […] isn’t a viable career, ruining their dream” – Girl, 14.

“There’s not enough support for careers in the arts, and it’s often thought of as a dream instead of a legitimate career people want to continue with– Gender not specified, 14.

“Parents can expect their child to excel in subjects like english, maths, and science, and therefore pay much more attention to these subjects than others. This can [….] make children give up their opinion on what they would actually like to do. For example, I’d like to be an artist when I grow up, but there are much less open job opportunities for art than there are [for] say dentistry or surgery, even though art can be just as important – Girl, 11.

All children should feel supported in pursuing artistic interests and talents, and should feel that the visual arts are something that they can enjoy and engage with – from visiting galleries, to using art to express their thoughts. The Commissioner is keen for children to express themselves via art, and she has encouraged children to send in a range of pictures to participate in projects that the Office is running and share their views.

At the beginning of July, the Commissioner visited Liverpool to learn about their participation in UNICEF’s Child-Friendly City programme. It was brilliant to meet children who have participated in this programme, and to see their designs for what a child-friendly city might look like!

The Office also recently visited the Young Carers Festival. This was a great opportunity to speak with young carers, and to allow them to express what family meant to them and what they wanted to see change for young carers through artwork. Over 200 children took part, and built a 6-metre-long collage over the course of the day. Using artwork gave children the opportunity to express themselves in a creative and fun way, even when the topic may have been tough for them to talk about.

It has been brilliant to see children using art to express their thoughts on family, their local community, and the experiences of being a young carer. The Commissioner is also encouraging children in their early years to draw pictures of their family, and send these to the Office as part of the second Call to Action for the Family Review. This Call to Action aims to hear from parents of children aged 0-4, to learn what family means to different people, and to explore what support and services families need.

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