Today, we celebrate ‘Burberry Inspire’, a programme launched by The Burberry Foundation in 2018 to encourage and empower a cohort of students in Yorkshire – the home and heart of our trench coat – to uncover their creative potential and immerse themselves in the arts. The programme subsequently expanded to New York City, providing support to underrepresented communities in the US and UK.

Burberry Inspire brings together eight schools in Yorkshire with four prominent arts organisations: Leeds Playhouse Northern Ballet The Hepworth Wakefield and Leeds Young Film, providing students with hands-on, in-depth experiences of theatre, dance, art and film.

As the programme concluded, Burberry partnered with The Ideas Foundation, Bean Research and the Policy Institute at King’s College London to publish a series of papers and a longitudinal study to detail the impact of the initiative on students, teachers and communities across the Yorkshire region. Insights from the programme in the US have been developed by The City University of New York’s (CUNY) Creative Arts Team separately.


Guided by Burberry’s enduring belief that creativity opens spaces, Burberry Inspire is the flagship programme of The Burberry Foundation and the first in-school arts and culture programme of its kind. It was founded to support, empower and inspire young people, and according to the teachers involved, it did just that, with all citing that the Burberry Inspire programme “increased students’ ability to take risks and try something new.”

By utilising community networks – uniting schools and local, renowned art organisations – the programme has enabled more than 10,000 students across the globe in 15 different schools to think positively about their future.

The programme was designed by the Ideas Foundation and four cultural partners in consultation with Burberry’s Corporate Responsibility team. As leaders in the field of arts education, the four partners chosen to nurture the creative ambitions and skills of the students through dance, theatre, film and art included the Northern Ballet, Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Young Film and The Hepworth Wakefield. Each partner and their artists-in-residence worked closely with the schools to offer cultural experiences and training to upskill teachers in the use of arts and culture within their classroom, as well as to support with embedding content and inspiration from the cultural partners into in-curriculum learning.

In 2020, Burberry Inspire expanded to New York City, working with The CUNY Creative Arts Team, the American Ballet Theatre, Reel Works and Studio in a School NYC to support students from underrepresented communities. Arts and culture organisations who ordinarily wouldn’t work together collaborated internationally to champion creativity, share best practice and provide continuous support to students while schools were impacted through the pandemic.


Over the four years of the Burberry Inspire programme and as part of our longitudinal analysis, more than 26,500 surveys were collected from students and analysed alongside over 200 one-to-one student interviews. Surveys were collected at the beginning and end of each school year to compare the effect of the programme in schools that took part (‘treatment schools’), with other local schools that did not (‘control schools’), to estimate the effect of the programme on students’ self-esteem, aspiration and internal locus of control (the extent to which students believe they control their own destiny).

The findings revealed that during the years in which activities were mostly delivered in person, the programme had a significant impact on the extent to which students in participating schools felt they were in control of their own destiny, as well as a significant effect on self-esteem in the years prior to the pandemic. Interviews with students who had a high level of engagement with the programme also revealed improvements in their own skills and competencies such as confidence, leadership, their focus in school, and their professional and educational aspirations. Highlights from the results of the programme include:

  • 82% of teachers involved said that student confidence has improved
  • 84% of teachers involved said that the programme reinforced creativity throughout the school
  • 100% of teachers involved believed the programme increased their students’ ability to take risks and try something new
  • More than 10,000 students enabled with access to the arts to develop their creativity and think positively about their futures


The students have taken part in filmmaking-related workshops to develop transferable cultural skills including Virtual Reality, documentary, music video, social media and vlogging and art film.

The students’ experiences have been backed up with practical, meaningful information about how to take their ambitions further within reach, as well as empowerment through skills and abilities - both technical, and interpersonal but also skills to increase employability such as collaborative working, problem-solving and creative expression.


Burberry Inspire was designed to empower young people, providing them with the opportunity to increase their social capital through creative education and experiences with local institutions. The series of papers created by The Ideas Foundation, Bean Research and King’s College London support this goal by not only illustrating the impact, but also the replicability and the potential for scalability of this type of four-year creative education programme.


Leeds Young Film gives thousands of young people and families the opportunity to engage with film in a wide variety of ways. Most recently this has been through a virtual engagement with a new toolkit for students to use at home and connect with each other during lockdown, which will continue to inspire young people to develop their skills, learn about arts and culture and create their own content. As part of Leeds City Council, we are committed to delivering these key priorities and the Virtual Guerrilla Filmmakers' Guide allows us to do just that. We are thrilled to be a part of Burberry Inspire and the collaboration we’ve developed with all of the partners including Reel Works in New York has enabled us to continue to enrich our offer and reach an even wider audience.
Debbie Maturi, Leeds Young Film Manager