Priced out? An essay about poverty, young Londoners, arts and culture
Child poverty, the housing crisis and what this means for cultural engagement of young people and children in London
22 October 2013
Our goal at A New Direction is for all children and young
people in London to have the chance to develop their creativity and take part
in the fantastic culture on offer in the city. So which children and young
people do have opportunities to get
involved and which don’t?
In September we launched the results of a poll of 1600 young
Londoners. This showed that young people from Outer London tend to be less
involved in the arts and culture than those in inner London (so proximity to
cultural sites could be a factor) and that schools play a hugely important role
in driving cultural participation.
It also showed that after the age of 16
young people from lower social grades are significantly less likely to take
part in culture than their higher grade peers (an average gap of 8% with some
art forms such as theatre going-up to 15%). This led us to think about the
specific concerns of children and young people living in households below the
poverty line and we have recently commissioned further research into this group
which will be available in Spring 2014.
To put this work in context we have written an essay which
looks at the changing nature of poverty in London and the particular impact
this is having on children and young people.
Rising cost of living and the rapidly increasing
price of housing is pushing more families into poverty – particularly working
The trend over the last five years has been for
areas of Outer London to become poorer and Inner London less so (although Inner
London is still where poverty is most concentrated)
Poverty and poor-housing go hand-in-hand and
this means many children living in overcrowded and sub-standard conditions.
It is essential that the negative effects of growing up in a
poor household are not compounded by lack of access to creative and cultural
opportunities. London schools have shown that with appropriate intervention
poverty does not need to be a proxy for poor educational attainment. Similarly
poverty does not need to mark children out as not engaged in culture, or even
not cultured with all the subtle
forms of exclusion that implies.
We are now looking at what the changing nature of poverty in
London means for cultural partners and those trying to engage children and
young people. How do we consider these questions as a sector and what does it
mean for the way we programme work and promote engagement?
More low-priced ticket schemes
after-hours’ use of cultural spaces to provide
safe places for young people
Collaborative, local models where organisations
share assets and skills to provide a more joined-up cultural offer for young
We would love to hear your ideas on this topic. We would
also really like to gather experience of what works and what does not, in the
context of working with low income families and children.