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Bolton Cultural Education Partnership (BCEP)

The Bolton Cultural Education Partnership (BCEP) was engineered by Curious Minds (NW Bridge Organisation for Arts Council England).

The BCEP aims to provide quality cultural provision for all children across the Bolton borough, closing the provision gap, connecting schools in cultural partnership with NPOs in the area as well as seeking new forms of activity. It was initially formed around ambitions to achieve Artsmark Town status for the borough.

Local Educational Partnerships form a National Network. The School’s Director of Creative Learning and Partnerships participated in the national training scheme for LCEPs on behalf of Bolton’s CEP. This included: sharing national cultural education models and establishing a national vision; local vision, collaborative leadership and leading change; developing and sustaining networks; relevance and representation; measuring impact and evaluation; diversity and inclusive practice; fundraising; governance and leadership; communication and advocacy; engaging local schools on a local level; advocating for cultural education to policy makers.


Bolton School has a steering and delivery role in the BCEP, alongside with Council services - museum and libraries, the Octagon Theatre, Bolton University and Bolton at Home. Critical factors for success include the percentage of schools engaged in Artsmark and increased participation in arts and cultural activities particularly amongst hard to reach demographics. The group secures funding to support schools’ cultural partnership work and provides cultural marketplace and CPD opportunities for teachers.


Bolton School's own Artsmark journey connected School to the BCEP. The opportunity was identified by Director of Creative Learning and Partnerships who is also a Specialist Leader of Cultural Education with Curious Minds. The BCEP has evolved over the past seven years from 2016.


Staff time/cost of staff time, expertise and release from school and/or use of staffs’ own time is required to participate in the range of activities listed.

Extensive facilitation, project and event management skills are provided by staff to develop and augment each of the projects mentioned as well as the development of the BCEP itself.


Capturing the impact of creative and cultural activities within schools and in public offers is a current area of growth. The Director of Creative Partnerships is a Royal Society of Arts Cultural Evidence Champions to this end, developing methodology to capture qualitative and quantitative information.

Artsmark advocacy and development is a key element of the School’s partnership work – staff are enfranchised by Curious Minds to present case studies at schools festivals and to contribute to their Leading the Arts course.

The BCEP carried out a schools consultation project in Autumn Term 2022 and is currently developing responses to the findings.


Ongoing with shifting focus to new projects within the continued partnership.