From education to employment

New YouGov poll reveals 1 in 2 adults being held back from engaging with the arts



  • New YouGov poll reveals more than half of all Brits are faced with barriers when looking to engage with the arts (59%).
  • 16% of respondents indicated that exploring artistic activities (e.g. drawing, painting, creative writing) during the pandemic had improved their general wellbeing.
  • This comes as two-time Portrait Artist of the Year contestant and Portraits for NHS Heroes contributor Rosso Emerald Crimson launches a new online course.
  • An acclaimed, award-winning Italian artist based in London; Rosso has teamed up with online social-learning provider, Learning with Experts to deliver a six-part realist portrait online course. As part of the course, students learn in groups of 20 and get mentoring and feedback on work from Rosso herself.

A new survey shines a light on the wide-ranging set of obstacles impacting the British population from taking up art as a hobby or career. The study, commissioned by the online social-learning provider for adults Learning with Experts, reveals that 50% of adults believe that barriers are preventing their participation in artistic activities such as painting, drawing or sculpting. The most popular issue cited was that of not knowing enough about art or the artistic process (19%). Hinting at the potential good engaging with the arts can offer people, 16% of respondents said that exploring artistic activities during the pandemic had improved their general wellbeing. A further 9% state they don’t know what specific barriers are preventing them participating in artistic activities.

In a move set to address public concerns surrounding access to the arts, Learning with Experts has announced plans to expand their course offering to include a new ‘Art & Design’ category. This will help bolster an already wide range of vocational learning opportunities across areas such as gardening, horticulture and design, food and drink, wellbeing, floristry and photography.

Joining an already stacked roster of internationally renowned experts, including Michel Roux Jnr, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Raymond Blanc (food & drink), Tom Stuart-Smith, Piet Oudolf and Chris Beardshaw (Gardening), and Professor Sir Muir Gray (Wellbeing), is award-winning portrait artist Rosso Emerald Crimson. Rosso’s six-part ‘How to paint a stunning portrait’ marks the Learning Provider’s first ‘Art & Design’ course and will take students behind the scenes of her North London studio. It offers a rare glimpse into the creative process of a professional portrait artist and is a perfect fit for aspiring artists looking for inspiration and practical guidance.

In a change of pace to standard online art lessons, in which a traditional portrait or still life subject matter is replicated, Rosso has put in place a longstanding ambition to create a contemporary style of portrait for the course. Students will learn how to paint a portrait from start to finish following Rosso on a journey in which she shares philosophies and techniques, exploring the interplay of ‘free style’ and improvisation vs a rigorous approach to portraiture.

In line with Learning with Experts’ unique focus on collaborative online learning and expert feedback, Rosso will set assignments at the end of each lesson and provide mentoring and feedback as students tackle each step of the portrait creation process.

Rosso Emerald Crimson soared to prominence after twice being selected for Sky’s Portrait Artist of The Year competition and more recently exhibiting for the Net Gallery’s “Portraits for NHS Heroes” series. She has built a stellar reputation within the industry with a body of work composed of classical portraiture and figurative paintings with narratives developed around ethical and social issue as well as femininity. Rosso has received critical acclaim for her work centering on Black and Ethnic Minority groups, addressing issues of racial justice and the unrealistic portrayal of beauty.

An inspiration to all self-trained artists, Rosso left a career in Marketing more than a decade ago to turn her hobby into a career. Encouraging others to follow her lead, Rosso said:

“The course is predominantly designed as a fun entry into the art world, helping people feel young again by rediscovering a former passion or even stoking something new. The benefits of learning to paint are countless and can significantly improve your physical and mental wellbeing. This is ever more important as we come out of lockdown after a year in which many of us have been starved of activity or mental stimulation.

It is a massive honour to be chosen as the first expert to deliver a course for the Learning with Experts new Art and Design category. The potential for expansion in this area is huge and I hope many more will now be inspired to pick up a paintbrush.”

Elspeth Briscoe, Learning with Experts’ CEO & Founder, added:

“It is an exciting prospect welcoming someone of Rosso’s standing to the Learning with Experts team. Pairing Rosso’s astonishing talent with a truly innovative online course is the perfect way to launch our Art & Design offering.  Art particularly lends itself to this type of intimate online group learning, as feedback, sharing and discussion from your peers can be so motivating for aspiring artists. Being in a social classroom with others also helps combat isolation as we come out of lockdown.

The survey results are a stark reminder that many barriers remain in place for people looking to reskill or pursue a new hobby. We will continue to harness the power of tech to transform the online adult learning space and drastically increase the accessibility of vocational courses to a national audience.”

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