Arts Council England
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DMU and Arts Council England Launch Talent25

Researchers are to follow children born in Leicester over the first 25 years of their lives, seeing just what happens when they are given regular opportunities to get involved in creative activities.

  • Project will follow 100 children a year born in Leicester over their lifetimes to measure impact of regular creative activities 
  • Communities across city to develop first-of-its-kind study along with city’s creative sectors

The ground-breaking project, Talent25, was launched on Friday, 25 January at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

Talent25 aims to provide, for the first time, academic evidence of the impact that sustained arts experiences – listening to and learning music, cinema, theatre, children’s festivals, visiting libraries and museums and reading books– has from birth to adulthood.

The first phase of Talent 25, from 2019-21 will focus on work with 0-4 year olds and their families to achieve a true picture of the type of engagement which is likely to have an impact on future, sustained cultural engagement.

The first 100 babies and their families will be recruited from areas across the city of Leicester and a core principle of the programme is that children, their parents and families should themselves be involved in putting together the kinds of activities and opportunities that will be available to children.

Arts Council England Chief Executive Darren Henley and DMU Vice-Chancellor Dominic Shellard will launch the project at a showcase of some of Leicester’s best young creative talent.

Professor Shellard said: “I firmly believe that the creative urge is in all of us from birth; but this has to be cultivated and we as adults, parents, carers, educators and policymakers each have a duty to play our role to ensure that young people have equality of opportunity to be involved in artistic and cultural activities such as art, music and dance.

“I believe Talent25 will be a game-changer. It will tell us much about opportunity and access, about the value we place on the arts and the difference which living a creative life can make. Crucially, it will in time give us the information, data and insight needed to allow all of our children and young people to enjoy the benefits of a full cultural life.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive Arts Council England said: “Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. Every child has the capacity to be creative and opportunities to realise this potential should be equally available. We hope that Talent25 will help us to better understand what might make a difference to young people’s talent development and cultural engagement.

“Our long-term ambition is that the lessons we learn as the programme evolves will support the cultural sector to develop its work with early years and that whilst we launch with excellent partners in Leicester, that the impact will be felt nationally.”

Michael Ellis MP, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism said “Access to the arts can change how we see ourselves and the world, and engaging people from childhood is of huge importance.

“We are committed to opening up access to culture and creativity for all, regardless of background. I am pleased that, through Talent25, we will now have access to research that shows the true value and impact of the arts and culture on our lives.”

Researchers will aim to find out which activities get the most engagement from early years children and their families in Leicester, and design a programme that can be scaled up and brought to cities across the UK.

The overarching aim is to initiate a long term- 25 year- programme which will result in young peoples’ sustained cultural engagement and offer varied opportunities to develop their individual talent.

Notes to editors

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

DMU – named the inaugural 2018 Sunday Times University of the Year for Social Inclusion – leads the way in developing the public good agenda in UK higher education. It is home to pioneering international experience programme #DMUglobal which offers students the chance to enrich their studies overseas. It has embedded the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals across its curriculum and was the first UK university to be choen as a hub for SDG 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions. It is a fierce champion of the arts and culture locally, nationally and internationally.

For more information please contact De Montfort University Media Office on 0116 270 8353 or

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