The Mayor of London is backing a national campaign to get children and young people interested and involved in the visual arts. The Mayor joins the likes of artist Tracey Emin, writer and broadcaster Loyd Grossman and Children's Laureate, illustrator Anthony Browne in urging youngsters to unleash their creative talents as this year's Children's Art Day
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: Drawing is a wonderful thing, because it uses a different part of the brain to that which deals with bus lanes. I think children should learn to draw because, not only is it a superb way to express yourself, it helps you to better appreciate great works of art. I hope Children's Art Day can inspire young people everywhere to give it a go.
Organised by engage, the National Association for Gallery Education, Children's Art Day runs from 12-18 July, with thousands of young people taking part in hundreds of events up and down the country including more than 80 in the capital. Schools, youth and community groups, libraries as well as galleries and museums are hosting a variety of activities from drawing and painting, to sculpture, photography and crafts.
Artist Tracey Emin said: 'The art gallery can be a place for a really good day out. People can experience art in all different kinds of ways and all different kinds of levels. The earlier children go to an art gallery the more they accept art into their lives.'
Loyd Grossman said: 'Art is the ultimate playground: a place for fun, adventure and innovation. Seeing art at first hand can be hugely beneficial to children and families, whether its through working with an artist in the classroom or visiting one of the UKs brilliant museums and galleries. Children's Art Day is a vital way to engage children and young people in something which will help them learn and bring them lifelong pleasure.'
Children's Art Day aims to increase opportunities to experience the visual arts for children, young people and family groups. A recent report suggested that taking part in cultural activities 'helps to make families strong and stable'. However, one in five parents said their children had not taken part in any cultural activities in the past year with their family. Research has also suggested that access to the arts can help increase confidence, improve communication skills and the development creative skills, as well as improving literacy and numeracy.
Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate said: 'Children's Art Day gives us the chance to celebrate the extraordinary work being carried out by young people in schools directly inspired by works in our museums and galleries. We are delighted to support this exciting initiative which plays an important part in helping to develop young peoples creativity.'
This year's Children's Art Day also sees the launch of Look Out London, a new visual arts competition for children in the capital initiated by the Mayor and run in partnership with the Campaign for Drawing. Winning entries will be showcased on the engage and Campaign for Drawing websites later this year and schools will be presented with art materials donated by Cass Art and Daler-Rowney.
The Children's Laureate, illustrator Anthony Browne, said: 'All children, until they reach a certain age, can draw brilliantly. We all could, but something happens as we grow older and most of us lose this visual creativity. Any project that encourages children to continue drawing and to value drawing gets my support - and this competition sounds wonderful!'
Sue Grayson Ford, Director of the Campaign for Drawing and Patron of engage, said: 'Drawing is the best tool for seeing. I hope that through this initiative hundreds of schoolchildren will discover inspiration in London's unrivalled art and museum collections and its incredible topography of buildings, old and new. If they use drawing to make sense of these experiences, they will retain a lasting trace of their discoveries - many of them on their own doorstep!'