Communicating with children and young people – new report, new ideas


City of Dreams is working with young people on Tyneside to explore new ways for cultural venues to communicate with under25s.

During the 2018 Big Culture Conversation we spoke to nearly 1000 under25s on Tyneside. 9-in-10 of them could identifs cultural organisations in NewcastleGateshead by their logo or the facia of their buildings. But only 1-in-5 knew what was on offer for them in those venues. The vast majority did not read venue brochures, visit organisation’s websites, or follow them on social media.

As for venues promoting via young people’s peer-to-peer communication tools, well, that was an absolute no-no. Worse still, around 66% of those taking part in the Conversation did not think they “belonged” in cultural venues. Whilst nearly 8-in-10 said the use of organisational brands, or artform terms, on promotional material made them feel less confident about engaging.

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It was clear that we needed to do some more focussed work with children and young people to find new, and better, ways to communicate with them. Which is exactly what City of Dreams set out to do with the help of PR and marketing experts David Brookbanks and Emma Pybus, and some of our key partners in the children and young people’s sector.

He we publish their report in full.

A few words of introduction to the report by David and Emma

For many cultural venues, marketing to children – and particularly young people – can be tricky. Whilst many venues successfully target children via school and family visits, they often struggle to reach older children, teenagers and young people who can make their own decisions about what to see and do in their spare time.

Through our work with NewcastleGateshead Cultural Venues and City of Dreams, we set out to find out more about how cultural venues can successfully market and communicate to children and young people. We delivered two focus groups, with the aim of finding out from young people how they make decisions about how to spend their time. We worked with City of Dreams partners The Prince’s Trust and Gateshead Youth Assembly to arrange the focus groups.

What was apparent from the young people we spoke to (aged 15-22) was that friends and community groups play a big part in helping influence what they do. Whilst the participants said family members played a lesser role, it was clear during further discussion that grandparents, parents, and aunties and uncles, still played a big part.

They also want to talk. Whilst many young people said they would feel anxious or intimidated visiting a venue, there were open to the idea of speaking to venue staff – in an environment they felt comfortable in – about what they could do at their venues. Speaking to them online is important too, with YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat being the most popular social media platforms. But that wasn’t the only way to reach them.

The young people we spoke to were happy to interact offline and visit cultural venues as part of organised trips with community leaders and friends. They were open to attending a wide range of events, and came up with some really helpful ideas and suggestions for how cultural venues can better tailor their marketing to suit young people’s interests.

Whilst the sample size was small, the conversations we had were valuable in shedding light on the best ways for cultural venues to communicate with children and young people.

You can read our full report here: City of Dreams communications report Emma Pybus and David Brookbanks

To find out more about how we implement the recommendations in David and Emma’s report stay tuned to this website in early 2019
To find our more about David’s work visit, and to read about Emma’s work visit


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