Young woman and young man work together on creating an artwork using paint and paper

Who Are We and What Do We Do?

Arts Connect are a centre for cultural education working for children and young people.  For over a decade we have run projects and programmes that improve opportunities and access for the creative development of young people and expand the skills and knowledge of the teachers, artists and arts organisations who work with them. We are part of the University of Wolverhampton and we focus our work in the Black Country and the wider West Midlands.

The Team
We are a skilled and dedicated team with extensive experience of working in the arts and in education. We are passionate about improving the lives of children and young people by engaging them in high quality arts opportunities and experiences.

Why do we do it?
We know that participating, making, creating and achieving in the arts, makes a great difference to children and young people, to their wellbeing, to their sense of self, to their futures and to their overall happiness.

And so:
We want children and young people to be supported in developing their skills and their interests in the arts, having access to inspiring education and training, inspiring people and the right materials to achieve the best that they possibly can.

We want children and young people to know that a creative career is possible and to know where to go and who to talk to, to make this happen.

We want children and young people to develop and carry their love of the arts, their ownership of it, with them throughout their lives, whatever they choose to do and wherever they go.

We want them to keep the joy they found in making and creating in their childhood, forever.

What are we trying to do?

To lead change for young people, especially those who face the highest barriers to access.

Our work is focused on expanding and improving creative and cultural opportunities for children and young people. We work to influence system change, where the arts and creativity are placed at the very heart of the curriculum and at the very heart of civic and community life.

How do we do this?
We work in partnership with teachers, schools, colleges and universities, artists, arts, cultural and heritage organisations and community organisations.

We deliver programmes that nurture, grow and impact positively upon children and young people’s creativity, knowledge and skills.

Where do we work?
We focus the majority of our work around the University’s geographical footprint, mainly in the areas of Dudley, Sandwell, Telford, Walsall and Wolverhampton and the wider West Midlands. But we’re always interested in opportunities to work more widely with partners that share our ambitions.

Our programmes
Our new programmes include: expanding the visual and contemporary arts in schools; partnering with the Black Country Family Hubs on the Let’s Craft programme and working with the West Midlands Virtual Schools to advance creative opportunities for Children in Care.

Our History

The roots of Arts Connect lies in the Creative Partnerships programme that the University delivered in the Black Country, Shropshire and Telford from 2004 – 2011. Creative Partnerships was the New Labour Government’s flagship national creativity in education initiative that worked with schools, artists and creative practitioners, aiming to transform teaching for creativity, the creative skills and achievements of young people and cultural engagement.

From 2011 Arts Connect was formed to work as the Bridge organisation for the West Midlands. After a decade of growing opportunities for young people we completed our work as the Bridge in March 2023 and we build on that legacy.

We’re drawing on the knowledge, the expertise and the strong partnerships we’ve gained along the way to embrace a new way of doing what we do best.

Read more about our work as the Bridge for the West Midlands here.

University of Wolverhampton 

Arts Connect are part of the School of Creative Industries at the University of Wolverhampton.

We also work as part of the Enterprise, Knowledge Exchange and Research Centre activity of the University and support its commitment to community development.

Contact us
Please do get in touch with a member of our team if you would like to explore how we might work together.

If you would like to keep in touch with the latest news from Arts Connect and hear about opportunities in the arts and education sectors in the region, sign up to our monthly enews.