Families across Leicester helping DMU researchers discover the difference art can make to children

Families across Leicester have been helping researchers discover the difference that art and creativity can make to their child.

More than 30 families from all over the city are part of Talent 25, the only project of its kind in the country, with more set to join this year.

Funded by Arts Council England, it teams academic researchers from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) with families with a child under one and artists in weekly, co-created creative sessions.

Today (April 9) a special BBC Radio 4 programme all about Talent 25 is being broadcast at 11.30am. It was recorded at different Leicester locations including the LCB Depot in the Cultural Quarter and Highfields, and spoke to families taking part.

Kay Hardiman, Talent 25 director, said: “For many families with young children in Leicester and elsewhere, the opportunities to take part in free, regular, high-quality creative and cultural activities in their neighbourhoods are limited.

“Talent 25 – with support from Arts Council and DMU – is exploring how this can be done and how we can work with families to understand what difference it makes.”

Dance and movement artists, musicians, visual artists and other creatives work with families to explore how creativity and culture affects the lives of babies from as young as three months.

Creative practitioners and partners across the city involved in Talent 25 include University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester City Council, The Mighty Creatives, Spark Arts and Leicester Mammas.

Alex, who is parent to 11-month-old Travis who attends the Talent 25 sessions, said: “He really looks forward to it, when we walk into the room he is really excited. “Everything he learns along the way will shape him. I think it will change the way he looks at the world.”

Talent 25 is one year into its first four-year ‘pilot phase’ of a 25-year programme. In the first 12 months, more than 340 families have joined, taking part in weekly creative sessions in Leicester. They meet with DMU researchers every six months to discuss the experience and the difference they believe it is making to their child.

From April 1, families with babies aged under one and live in the Fosse, Humberstone and Hamilton, North Evington, Spinney Hills, Thurncourt and Wycliffe council ward areas of Leicester are eligible to take part. Talent 25 will expand into three new council ward areas every year.

• Families with babies aged one and under who are interested in taking part can get in touch with Talent 25 by emailing creativetalent25@dmu.ac.uk to check if Talent 25 is taking place in their area or send a message through the Talent 25 Facebook and Twitter page.