Arts Emergency


“I had a lot of opportunities as a working class person wanting a life in the arts, unfortunately things aren’t so easy now which is why I support Arts Emergency”

We’re a grassroots ‘alternative’ old boy network for young people, and here one of our most passionate and well known members, the actor and activist Julie Hesmondhalgh, explains why she supports Arts Emergency and why this Christmas, she’s hoping you’re willing to help too!

A generation of working class artists and thinkers changed the world and lead revolutions in popular culture and society throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. We’re working to ensure the next generation have the same chances to stake a claim and make a change, and here’s how you can help…



Or give a one off amount here


Low income does not mean low imagination, low ambition, or low intelligence. But the next generation, though full of vim and vigour, are stopped in their tracks by fees and cuts, sidelined by policy makers, and vexed by austerity. They need us to send the ladders down and we need their fearlessness and invention to change the world all over again.

When tuition fees tripled in 2010 and public funding for the arts was decimated, we wanted to do something meaningful for the low income kids most affected.

We pulled together around 50 friends – artists, thinkers, writers, performers, and activists. We pinned up a photo of the infamous Bullingdon Club. We listed the many advantages and favours those men had had on their way to the top. We pledged to build an open access alternative to that ‘old boy’ network that dominates arts, culture and politics in the early 21st century.

In 2013, after a pilot project in Hackney that saw 22 teenagers mentored and go on to study the arts at university, we registered officially as the charity Arts Emergency and today we’re ready to take this national!

Support for Young Artists and Thinkers

It begins as a one year mentoring project for 16 year olds, and it’s the absolute chance of a lifetime. 

What’s revolutionary here is the fact our kids are supported along the way (and beyond) by what’s now a network of over 4000 arts professionals, including 100s of the biggest names in visual art, music, fashion, film, journalism and more. These are people who can and do open doors at ALL levels of the industry.

We do things like set up paid work experience, book studio time, arrange set visits, provide practice space for auditions, find coaching, gallery space, free tickets, backstage passes, paid internships, academic help and so much more. A young person with a place in our project need only ask, and we can almost certainly deliver it.

It’s a very practical way of giving low income kids everything we wished for at 16. It’s an open door and a warm welcome for less advantaged people into the world of culture, learning, and creativity, and the whole experience is underpinned by long term practical support right up to the age of 24. Unsurprisingly, three and a half years in and with a rapidly rising profile, we find ourselves oversubscribed by teenagers wanting to apply and that is why we’re appealing to willing supporters this Christmas!

Funding for more places

Our work is funded entirely by members of the public. It’s a fact central to our mission and our identity and means that Arts Emergency is a genuinely public movement for arts and culture at a time when bigger establishment organisations are, well…he who pays the piper calls the tune and all that.

Some people give £1 a month, some people give £1000 a month. We ask for a gift you can afford and comfortably commit to on a regular basis.

Right now it costs us around £1000 to support one young person from 16 up to 24. That’s about £125 a year for something amazing and long term. We are working with 160 young people in next year’s project and have a growing alumni of over 500 now. It’s getting big quickly!

Asking only for regular monthly or yearly pledges is deliberate and revolutionary. It means we actually spend less money directly on fundraising. Instead we put every effort and all of our attention towards supporting kids who need this amazing project in their lives, and to scaling up to reach more towns and cities nationally. Be part of something special!

If you would like any more info about us, please email our Director at!

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