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Hundreds of pupils to benefit from free arts scheme

Pilot project includes school clubs where students can design their own programme of cultural visits

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Pilot project includes school clubs where students can design their own programme of cultural visits

Hundreds of schoolchildren will be given free visits to local theatres, museums and galleries as part of a new scheme to increase access to the arts.

The Cultural Citizens Programme will target disadvantaged communities where few people currently visit museums, galleries or the theatre and will give children the opportunity of a behind-the-scenes look at cultural institutions, culture secretary Karen Bradley announced.

The pilot programme will include 600 children and will be launched in September in three areas: Liverpool and Blackpool, Birmingham and Barking and Dagenham.

Ms Bradley said: "Arts and culture are an integral part of British society – it boosts tourism, improves our wellbeing and provides a source of local pride and identity. We want to ensure that it is available to everyone, no matter what their background.

"The Cultural Citizens Programme will open doors for hundreds of young people across the country, so they can enjoy our fantastic arts and culture scene, and gain the skills to build careers in this thriving sector."

If the programme is successful in the first three areas, it could be rolled out to thousands of young people across the country.

'Cultural Citizens of the future'

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: "Our investment in the Cultural Citizens Programme will help to ensure that more children and young people will have the opportunity to engage with art and culture, regardless of their background.

"We hope the scheme will complement our existing programmes for children and young people, and help to nurture the cultural citizens of the future."

In Liverpool and Blackpool, young people will work with "culture coaches" to plan extra-curricular visits to festivals, theatres, galleries and museums such as FACT, Liverpool Everyman, Tate Liverpool and the Museum of Liverpool.

In Barking and Dagenham, cultural citizens' clubs will be set up in schools to help students design a programme of cultural visits, and in Birmingham 200 young people will work with 20 organisations to operate as tour guides in galleries, as front-of-house in theatres or to run social media.

The young people will also be given free tickets to three different performances in the city, beginning this October with the Birmingham Rep theatre.

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