One of main things that this unprecedented situation has taught me is the power of partnerships, the desire that there is across the arts, cultural and education sector for people to meet, connect, share and ultimately recover together. As the Local Cultural Education Partnerships (LCEPs) Manager I am very fortunate that I get to work across the West Midlands supporting and developing the 14 LCEPs that are all at different stages of establishing, emerging and delivering.

Throughout this period the LCEPs have come together to unite in their commitment to engaging and empowering children and young people to access high quality arts and cultural opportunities.

Over the last few weeks the generosity of spirit has for me defined the sector we work in, it includes very practical support such as the quick turnaround of funding applications and the sharing of guidelines and resources for the use of digital platforms with children and young people. It also includes thinking outside of the box and developing new approaches to existing activities including a Creative Youth Voices project with young people as Creative Explorers which has now gone entirely digital ensuring the programme can continue during this time.

The move from the real world to the virtual world has also empowered LCEPs across the region to bring to the fore the array of arts and cultural digital activities that are available in their locality and to look at new ways of communicating this offer to their community.

A number of LCEPs are bringing together teachers from across their areas to network, share and plan together for the future of delivering creative subjects across settings and phases. They have created safe spaces for their teachers and their arts and cultural sectors to have open and honest conversations about what is needed now and in the future and to start to make plans together to ensure that this can happen.

During this time I have started to refer to the West Midlands LCEPs as a community, because although they are all unique to their locality, they have a shared common purpose and focus – that of creating positive change for children and young people.

As we are all finding our way personally and professionally through this time we find strength in our connections and it is though these connections that we will find our way through this maze together. Thank you to all of the LCEPs and your generosity, commitment and adaptability during this challenging time and to you all, keep well.

If you would like to join your local LCEP then please contact me.

Lucy Carlton Walker, Arts Connect, LCEP Manager