The Big Draw

This national celebration of drawing has grown from one day in October 2000 to an annual month-long festival of drawing across the UK. The first Big Draw in 2000 attracted 180 partner organisations. By October 2011, the number had risen to 1,300, with over 260,000 people participating. Events are run by galleries, museums, heritage and other cultural sites, schools, colleges, local authorities, libraries and other community agencies – individually or in collaboration. Partners span the arts, sciences and technologies. Their activities show the value of drawing as a cross-cultural, cross-generational tool for active participation.

Key messages are that everybody can draw given the opportunity, and that drawing can bring a buzz of excitement to every setting. The aim is to encourage people of all ages to explore ideas and express their creativity. Big Draw partners receive books and can access web resources with comprehensive advice and strategies for planning events. As a result, drawing is now integrated into year-round learning programmes at many cultural and education centres.

A high profile national launch kicks off each Big Draw season. Their appeal is demonstrated by the fact that launches in Trafalgar Square (2004) and South Kensington (2005) attracted audiences of 35,000 and 30,000 respectively. In 2006, Amazing Space at Somerset House reached capacity with 6,000 visitors and the 2010 highlight event, Make your Mark on the Future: From London Bridge to Tower Bridge, took place at 20 different venues between the two bridges, including City Hall. Our most recent launch event. Regional launches have taken place in other parts of the UK, attracting large numbers of participants. To create these, the Campaign supported a wide range of galleries, museums and heritage sites with direct funding and with sponsorship in-kind for art materials, marketing and PR.

The Campaign presents Drawing Inspiration Awards to organisers who use The Big Draw to find innovative and effective ways to engage new audiences, or to stimulate enquiry. Winners receive up to £1000. As well as encouraging experiment and good practice, the awards help the Campaign to maintain long-term partnerships with educators who continue to develop new ways to captivate diverse audiences. Some organisations have won awards more than once by re-investing their experiences in new and more ambitious programmes. The majority of award winners run Big Draw events annually.

Documentation of their prize-winning activities provide valuable material for the annual good practice guides, which reach a wide readership in 15,000 cultural, community and education settings each year.