The ten largest cultural organisations on Tyneside have been awarded Investing in Children status for the first time, making NewcastleGateshead the only city in the UK where all major creative venues have been recognised for upholding children’s rights.

Over the last eight months members of NewcastleGateshead Cultural Venues (NGCV) have taken part in assessments of their theatres, museums, galleries, cinemas, science centres, dance and music venues against the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The assessments were organised by City of Dreams, the initiative launched by NGCV to help make NewcastleGateshead the “best place to be young” by engaging under 25s in creative activity, supporting them to have a strong voice in the city, and growing their skills and confidence. City of Dreams worked with Investing in Children, a Durham based charity with 21 years’ experience reviewing children’s rights practice, to carry out assessments during 2019.

On 9 December 2019 all 10 NGCV members were confirmed as meeting expectations of the Convention, including BALTIC, Centre for Life, Dance City, Live Theatre, Northern Stage, Sage Gateshead, Seven Stories, Theatre Royal, Tyneside Cinema and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM).

Responding to the award of Investing in Children status to NGCV members, Kate Denby Executive Director of Northern Stage and Chair of NGCV said: “We are delighted that all NGCV partner venues have attained Investing in Children status. This achievement demonstrates the commitment we all have to ensuring young people have access to creative activity, and the strong partnerships we have built to help make NewcastleGateshead be the best place to be young.”

Special praise was given for good practice under Article 12 of the Convention – listening to children and young people, and Article 31 – enabling children and young people to take part in the same cultural and artistic activities as adults. Helen Mulherne, Partner at Investing in Children, said NGCV members “clearly demonstrate dialogue and change in their work, a view endorsed by nearly 100 children and young people we spoke to during assessments”.

Assessments noted high standards of individual and group activities, and revealed the involvement of 1000s of under 25s in venue programming, exhibition design and theatre productions. Young people also talked about the way NGCV members recognised their talent, empowered them to express themselves, built bridges between communities and helped them grow skills for a positive future.

A participant in one assessment (aged 15) said: “I like expressing myself in the projects we do as I wish to be an artist. Young people are the next generation and we will run the world, it is important to listen to us”. A participant in another (aged 21) added: “I have had loads of meetings with directors to get support and understand how things work and tell them about my ideas”.

Ben Dickenson, Executive Producer of City of Dreams added: “City of Dreams is bringing organisations together in the interests of all under 25s in NewcastleGateshead to give them access to the arts and a stronger voice in the city. It’s unprecedented for all major arts organisations in a single city to win the Investing in Children award. It’s an endorsement of the work we are doing across the arts, culture, heritage, community and health sectors.”