Key Learnings
from the Family Arts Campaign’s Network Ambassador Programme

A year on from our initial Network Ambassadors programme, we’re pleased to be continuing and building on our work with Family Arts Networks and Network Ambassadors across the UK. We take a look back at the key learnings from the initial three year programme.

Our initial Network Ambassadors programme, ran from August 2019 to August 2022, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF). The programme supported six existing Local Family Arts Networks to create a more effective, joined-up and sustainable model of engaging diverse families in arts and culture at a local level through new paid Ambassador posts.

Local Family Arts Networks are groups of six or more regional organisations who work together to support family engagement. They can be made up of both arts and non-arts organisations, with at least two different art forms represented in each Network.

The Local Family Arts Networks that took part in the 2019-2022 Programme were Bristol, Cumbria, Sunderland, Derby, Manchester and the North East.

The programme was evaluated by Carly Henderson, Senior Consultant: Co-creation and Participation at The Audience Agency. We’re pleased to share our Top Tips for Starting a Network, the Key Learnings and Findings and the Summary Report of the programme evaluation.

What We Learnt

The Benefit of Collaboration 

The power of a network of organisations with shared aims can have a positive impact on funding applications, donations of time in-kind and marketing reach.

Diversifying Family Audiences, Locally, Together

Where ambassadors co-ordinated the network to engage with more diverse families, or drew out the experience of a specific network member, the network format provided the opportunity to share experiences, reflect and build confidence and increased understanding of these family’s needs.

Combine Local Adaptation with the Big Picture

The combination of a local network, co-ordinated by a local ambassador, hosted at a local organisation meant that networks evolved to their specific local needs and circumstances, the national funding of these roles through Family Arts Campaign allowed joined up sharing, learning and opportunities to identify replicate elements that were appropriate at a national level.

The Power of Non-Arts Partnerships

Within networks, including non-arts organisations that work with specific groups of underserved families, can help create a joined-up approach to increase meaningful reach. This can be a huge benefit for small arts organisation members with otherwise limited resources for outreach.

A Sector Wide Challenge: Data Collection and Evaluation

Consistent and quality data collection and evaluation results are still extremely challenging to gather and analyse across a network group, particularly where members combine organisations with little or no experience of data gathering systems with others who have established models, that are likely to have a variety of different definitions for ‘new’ families, family groups etc.

When Working Together, a Little Can Go a Long Way

A small amount of additional resource (our model is one day per week) with a remit for driving momentum, sharing best practise and co-ordinating joint activity across a network of organisations with shared aims, can make a big impact. Add a pot of seed funding for all network members to benefit from and it’s a winning combination.


Summary Report

This summary shares the programme’s outcomes and indicators and the key successes and learnings over the three-year period.

Key Learnings and Findings

This report explores the key themes that have emerged through Family Arts Campaign’s three-year Network Ambassador programme, including significant changes, areas of development and challenges.

Top Tips for starting a Local Family Arts Network

This document shares practical tips for establishing and leading a network that were developed with the support of the Family Arts Network Ambassadors.

With the Manchester Network, we have this shared vision where we do want to share audiences…we have the same motivation.
– Manchester Network Member

Interested in setting up a Family Arts Network in your area? Find out more about Family Arts Networks and discover our 15 Networks across the UK.

Images from Cumbria, Manchester and North East Family Arts Networks

24 October 2023

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24 October 2023