"Groundbreaking" 25-year study of the power of arts hits five-year milestone

A 25-year De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) study of the effect of arts on children’s development has completed its first five years of work.

To celebrate the milestone, the team behind Talent 25 invited all the babies, children and parents who have helped take part in the research to an event at DMU.

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The long-term project, run in partnership with Arts Council England, aims to study what difference regular exposure to arts, crafts, music and creative activities can make to a child’s overall development including educational outcomes, following children over a period of 25 years.

Over the last five years the team of researchers has set up and helped run arts classes across different parts of Leicester, focusing particularly on deprived areas where such classes are less common.

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Sarah Pateman, from the Abbey Lane area of Leicester, was at the event with 14-month-old Oliver.

She said: “Oliver is such a sociable little boy. When he started nursery, everyone was amazed about just how confident he was and I have no doubt this is down to Talent 25.

“When I was on maternity leave the Talent 25 events were opportunities to get out of the house and for us to socialise with other babies and parents and it soon became our favourite part of the week.”

Each year, the team enrols new cohorts and the total number of babies and children engaging with the project now stands at 440.

To mark five years of the project, all 440 youngsters, and their families, were invited to The Venue for a celebration event, which featured a soft play area, performances of Chinese music and dance to mark Lunar New Year and plenty of opportunity for games and dancing.

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There were also speeches from Professor Katie Normington, Vice-Chancellor of DMU, Professor Bertha Ochieng, Professor of Integrated Health and Social Care at DMU and principal investigator on Talent 25, and Jessica Tickell, relationship manager for family and children’s arts, Midlands, Arts Council England

Jess Tickell, from Arts Council England, said: “This is a groundbreaking research project and there’s nothing really quite like it. It is amazing to see everyone here today, and hearing from all the parents and children about their experience of the project so far.

"At the Arts Council, we are really interested to see what the research will reveal about the long-term impacts of very early engagement in cultural and creative activity, and the insights that will give us.”

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To date, the findings from the Talent 25 families indicate a prevailing belief among parents about the significance of arts, cultural, and creative activities for the development of their children.

They perceive these activities as instrumental in contributing to collective identity, fostering positive outcomes in terms of physical and mental health, as well as social well-being.

The consensus among parents/carers is that engagement in arts and cultural pursuits enriches their children's lives in many ways, emphasizing the all-round benefits of such experiences.

Posted on Wednesday 14 February 2024

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