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Families are sought for a Leicester based research project, which is focused on trying to find out what effects the arts have on a child as it grows up.

Talent25 is a long-term research project which is being run at De Montfort University, which is currently working with over 180 local families across Leicester.

The research team hold regular classes for babies and infants featuring music, dance, art and other creative activities. It aims to study the effects it has on them as they grow into toddlers, young children and beyond.

Picture: Talent25

The 25-year-long project, commissioned by Arts Council England and De Montfort University, has been running since 2019 and is well into its third year, having had to adapt remotely during the pandemic.

The Talent 25 programme gave them ideas to engage in creative activities with their babies at home, with some parents having for the first time explored artistic and creative activities with their babies during the lockdown.

Now having started with 20 participants in 2019, the team are looking to involve more families, hoping to reach new areas of the city and build on the key findings already established.

“Early findings of the Talent25 project, particularly during lockdown, demonstrate the potential of creative activities to enhance parenting skills through developing curiosity, creativity, and imagination in their babies”, said Dr Catherine Harris, Senior Research Fellow for Talent25.

“The findings also emphasise how vital the eight-week sessions and activities are for our families and their children in terms of social interactions and access to arts activities, which would otherwise be inaccessible. Attitudes of parents towards arts activities and creativity are becoming more positive and they are demonstrating engagement in arts outside the activities offered by Talent25.

“We hope that through continued activities and research, Talent 25 will help us to better understand what might make a difference to young people’s talent development and cultural engagement.”

The aim of Talent25 is to increase opportunities and engagement in the creative and cultural industry for young people from currently less engaged groups regardless of background. It seeks to understand the barriers to creative and cultural engagement from early childhood and the interventions most effective in overcoming them. Research has found that supporting engagement with arts at a young age can inspire continued participation through life. However, we know less about best practice for supporting access to and engagement in arts and cultural activity for the under-2’s.

The majority of the parents described how Talent25 has influenced their parenting styles, and for those with older children they had adapted their parenting styles to include creative play. Parents’ motivation to explore creative activities with their babies at home points to the potential efficacy of teaching creativity through creative programmes from early childhood, and in particular engendering creativity in parents from less engaged groups. 

However, the results also indicated that some parents are insecure about their knowledge and skills to initiate creative activities for their babies and that this works as a barrier for their participation in creative activities at home. Therefore, we are exploring several approaches, to enable parents nurture creative learning from early childhood. Now that COVID restrictions are no longer in place, creative activities are taking place in person and families are also attending cultural events.

To find out more about the project or to get involved, visit: