Research and Publications
Royal Opera House Bridge invests in research that helps identify local need and provision, explorers new models and initiatives and creates a valuable knowledge base for all professionals working in the arts and education sector. We also provide opportunities for professionals to connect, share learning and be inspired by experts from a range of disciplines and backgrounds.
In early 2020 the ten Children and Young People Sector Support organisations (Bridges) commissioned a piece of research into how we could work more effectively with national organisations for the benefit of children across England. The work was commissioned pre the COVID-19 Pandemic and the research took place as the first national Lockdown started. This had a significant impact on the timescale of the research as many staff from the Learning and Participation departments of national organisations were furloughed. The research, however, was completed in the summer and we are really pleased to share the Executive Summary of the findings to support a more joined up and strategic conversation with national organisations over the next year.
The starting point for this work was the premise that national organisations are a highly significant asset and resource in the national cultural education ecology. Many have national touring remits and exercise a sector leadership role, with a strong brand identity, a reputation for quality provision, a range of models, programmes and a body of knowledge that has a status and currency particularly with schools outside of London. A significant amount of their national delivery is distributed through their learning and participation teams who are balancing innovation alongside largescale delivery. Some national organisations also have the capacity to commission research, and many choose to invest in local and regional partnership infrastructure.
The Bridge organisations have a clear remit from Arts Council England to work strategically to ensure all children and young people can engage with high quality arts and culture. This is achieved through their own programmes and their stewardship of the network of Local Cultural Education Partnerships that they nurture. Each Bridge has a significant knowledge of the variety of cultural and educational provision in their region and the communities they serve.
We found in our research that the dialogue and relationships between Bridges and National organisations has not been consistent. For instance, Bridges are often unaware when delivery takes place in a region and national organisation often unaware of how we might support them. This feels like a missed opportunity to create an equitable distribution of offers in a place and ensure that the wider cultural infrastructure collaboratively reaches the widest number of children and young people possible.
We were keen for the research to:
Since the work was commissioned obviously the world has changed and it is likely to continue to change over the coming months and years. The pressures on schools and cultural sector and the uncertainty we all face around how we can work together more effectively is going to be challenging. In the short term as we all reset and rebuild, the ten Bridges are planning to hold a series of conversations in the Spring of 2021 (more than likely online) to explore future collaboration, dialogue and partnership working with national organisations. Dates for these will be shared in early 2021.
One of the key findings from the research was that, until now Bridges have not had a consistent system for national bodies to engage with them. The ten Bridges are all unique organisations operating collaboratively, but within their own delivery systems. We accept that to reduce confusion we need a simple, clear way to ensure nationals can engage with the relevant Bridge for the regions they are considering working in. As a first step term each Bridge has identified a lead individual as a point of contact. Details below:
Names of national leads
A New Direction (London)
Royal Opera House Bridge (Essex, Herts, Beds, North Kent)
Art Works (South East)
Real Ideas Organisation (South West)
Norfolk & Norwich Festival Bridge (East Anglia)
Arts Connect (West Midlands)
The Mighty Creatives (East Midlands)
Curious Minds (North West
We Are IVE (Yorkshire and Humber)
Culture Bridge North East (North East)
We hope you enjoy the Executive Summary, and hope this is a first step to better co-ordination of regional and national cultural learning infrastructures that will place the aspirations, needs and situations of children and young people at their heart. We are grateful for the work of Natalie Highwood and Chloe Bird in undertaking the research.
As a response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Bridge England Network initiated a National School Survey. The purpose of this survey was to gather indicative information from schools about the potential needs and creative aspirations for their pupils from autumn 2020 onwards. The aim was to identify how Bridges and the cultural sector might best support schools moving forward. It was distributed in the last two weeks of the academic year, in a very challenging school term, to gather the most relevant information. Bridge England Network is hugely grateful to those educators who were able to find the time to respond.
A selection of documents and reports reflecting the work of ROH Bridge.
Please note: the reports are displayed as PDFs. Get a free PDF reader.