To organise these insights, Flow used their Thrivable Culture model (illustrated right) which acknowledges the relationship between factors that can contribute to a thriving creative place or community, and illustrates how these factors work together.

Download the full findings here: Full map of factors for change

External Factors

We have identified eight types of change factor that present challenges or opportunities for children and young people and those working with them: Technology, Economy & Work, Society, Environment, Politics & Law, Ethics, Healthcare, and Culture.

Economic, political and environmental change factors present the biggest challenges; they will affect resources in a profound and material way.

However, technological advances (e.g. imaging and data analysis) offer many opportunities to creatively tackle these problems. This is the right moment for Cultural Education Partnerships to face these challenges by deepening their collaborations, thinking systemically, opening to digital creativity and involving young people in their future plans.

Education Reforms

Education reforms (such as the EBacc and a ‘target culture’) are having negative impacts on creativity and cultural access in schools.

Nature of Work

The nature of work is changing. Employers are expressing a greater need for creative and interpersonal skills.

Creative Industries

Changes in the creative industries mean growing demand for work in areas more driven by technology (e.g. video games or digital architecture).

The automation of work

The automation of work means potentially more leisure time and/or unemployment – and therefore an increased need for developing creative and technical skills and interests in both work and leisure capacities.

Digital Technology

Digital technology is changing the ways we produce and access culture, and affects how we define and value it too. Technology makes it much easier to access culture on demand, and has the ability to make cultural experiences more immersive and social.

Flexible Working

Technology is increasing opportunities to work anywhere and independently, thus aiding creative enterprise, and a non-linear approach to work.

Economic Pressures

There is growing poverty and inequality amongst children. Many young people are concerned about how future economic pressures will affect their access to skills and study paths in creative and cultural industries.

Funding Cuts

Funding cuts are having a negative impact on cultural learning provision in some localities, in both informal settings and in schools.

Political Changes

Political changes are showing a rising intolerance to diversity in some communities, making many feel increasingly isolated. Some communities may become more conservative or limited in their cultural tastes, while these changes may drive others to embrace and celebrate diversity and internationalism more.

How can we utilise these factors positively?

Cultural partnerships need to stay open-minded about the possibilities offered by technology, in terms of making culture and creativity more accessible, inclusive and enterprising.

Technology can be used to take cultural learning experiences into schools and the daily lives of children and young people.

Cultural organisations can collaborate to strongly advocate for the role of cultural and creative learning opportunities in building a stronger future economy.

Technology wakes me, guides me, connects me and finally sends me to sleep. I know my parents had to get up to go to work, but there are few jobs in 2026: everyone’s freelance and most people do many things.

Professional respondent imagining the future

Relational Factors

The skills, knowledge and capacities that children and young people and those working with them need to develop in order to overcome challenges and maximise opportunities (as well as factors impacting on their ability to do so)

Our research shows that technology is only one of many drivers for change in education and future skills. Although some aspects of technology are perceived by children and young people to be a threat (particularly the automation of jobs), there are many positive opportunities for harnessing technology to develop creativity, empathy and problem-solving. However, progress in this area is potentially threatened by Government education reforms and the plan to the leave the EU.

Political and Economic Changes

Political and economic changes are impacting on the educational sector, reducing its ability to offer a rich and relevant creative and cultural education

Structural Changes

Structural changes (such as the ‘Academisation’ of schools and a new policy of reinstating selective schools) mean that local authorities are less able to coordinate provision of creative or ‘vocational’ opportunities in schools.

Target Culture

An increasing ‘target culture’ combined with exam reforms, particularly the proposal for a compulsory EBacc, is increasing the emphasis on a core set of academic subjects.

Careers Education

Schools are now responsible for careers education and guidance, but funding cuts and local economies are making it difficult for some schools to offer relevant and inspiring work experience opportunities.

Parental Attitudes

There is growing awareness amongst teachers of the vitality of the Creative, Cultural and Digital industries in the UK. Many children and young people are interested in following Art & Design study paths to pursue these careers, but parental attitudes and political factors are frustrating them.

What can we do in light of these challenges?

Cultural organisations need to support schools and advocate for the importance of creative, cultural and digital learning. Supporting work experience initiatives that line up with this ethos is also vital.

“I imagine a more fluid society where creative activity is focused in reorganising and interpreting what is already there.”

Professional respondent imagining the future

Internal Factors

The values and attitudes that enable children and young people and their communities to lead creative and meaningful lives

Children and young people are highly conscious of a challenging future, accrediting pressures in their mental health to wider global issues, and an increasingly high-stakes academic curriculum. Social division is also identified as problematic.

However, intervention through cultural learning is able to positively influence and address such issues. The key to community resilience is ensuring that people collaborate and know how to defuse tension. Cultural Education Partners can make powerful interventions by empowering children and young people to be cultural leaders and creative innovators.

Increasing Stress

Young people are under increasing stress due to educational and economic pressures.

Skills Development

Young people are well aware that they need to develop flexible attitudes, empathy and creativity to suit them for future jobs, but they need more support to develop these skills.

Public Apathy

Young people interested in creative futures for themselves are critical of parental ignorance and public apathy about the value of culture.

Political Expression

Young people feel that they lack political expression, for example, the fact that 16-18 year olds were excluded from the EU Referendum.

Consumption of Digital Media

Many adults are expressing concerns about how the extent of consumption of digital media impacts on children and young people’s sense of self, their worldviews, their wellbeing, privacy, relationships and concentration.

Risk Taking

There are concerns that children and young people are not developing skills to manage their own wellbeing, for example by not experiencing enough freedom to take risks, exercise outdoors and manage digital safety.

How cultural organisations can help with these issues

Cultural organisations can help demonstrate how cultural learning develops individuals to be self-aware, reflective, imaginative and compassionate.

They can support opportunities for young people to express their views and be actively engaged in changing places and politics.

They should also integrate digital learning into activities to maximise chances for young people to develop digital literacies and future skills.

Moving from individual and ego-leadership has taken time but gradually the emotional bonus of mutual success has helped dissolve the initial fear of losing control

Professional respondent imagining the future