Bridging the divide for children in the North

Childwall Academy
17 Nov 2022

At the heart of the cost-of-living and Covid storm, children and young people have fewer opportunities to engage in arts and culture and barriers to access are growing. Hannah Baldwin thinks this is a crisis in the making.

Education in need of a radical rethink 

First Encounters with Shakespeare production photograph
15 Sep 2022

Industry complains of a chronic skills shortage in areas such as communication and creativity. Yet our education system places little value on subjects that hone those skills, says Jacqui O'Hanlon.

Training the next generation: filming performance bootcamp

31 Aug 2022

Natalie Woolman explains how a bootcamp to develop a talent pipeline for the multicamera teams of the future will address a serious gap in skills training.

‘Our Time, Our Place’

Young people from Bradford send off for the district's official UK City of Culture 2025 bid
19 Apr 2022

In the second in our series profiling the shortlisted candidates for City of Culture 2025, Shanaz Gulzar shares how Bradford's young people shaped a bid that awakened a sleeping giant of a city.

Liverpool youth to lead £3.6m arts centre project

21 Feb 2024

A group of young people have been given £3.6m to transform a former primary school into an arts, sports and education centre for their community.

The BBC reports that Tiber Young People's Steering Group (TYPSG) in Liverpool, made up of 14 -18 year olds, will make all key decisions about the development of the four-acre Tiber Street Primary School site in the city. 

Chair, student Sha'Rae Riley, said: "We are the next generation and we know what young people want to see. We want to make sure the community has different jobs and opportunities for young people."

A grant of £3.58m from the government's Youth Investment Fund will be spent on educational rooms, a café, a function suite and an outdoor event space

The project is one of several initatives related to arts to be funded by the £90m investment programme.

Pilot scheme offers children free travel to theatre

15 Feb 2024

Schoolchildren in the West Midlands will benefit from a new pilot scheme promising free travel for theatre visits.

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre is offering the scheme, estimated to be available to more than 300 pupils in Dudley.

Any school in Brierley Hill, Dudley that receives a minimum 25% pupil premium will qualify for transport when booking tickets to a Grand Theatre production.

The Richardson Brothers Foundation has funded the project, which is also supported by Prospect Coaches. Grand Theatre has indicated it is seeking additional funding to expand the offer to other parts of the Black Country.

Alex Rawlings, Head Teacher of Quarry Bank Primary School, which has used the scheme, said: "For [pupils] to see a live production of a book they are studying massively supports their learning, whilst also exposing them to the magic of theatre."

Government youth fund distributes £3m to arts projects

A permanence by young people at KBSK in Bodmin
08 Feb 2024

Arts-centric youth organisations will receive more than £3m from the government's £90m Youth Investment Fund, with the money going to some of the country's most underserved areas.

Former NPO opens permanent base in Exeter

05 Feb 2024

Touring theatre company Theatre Alibi is set to become an arts venue after opening a permanent base.

Prior to losing its Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio status, which equated to £241,597 of annual funding, the company developed touring plays from a base at Exeter’s Emmanuel Hall.

It now plans to use the hall as a child-centred arts venue, named The Centre for the Imagination for Young People and Children.

The space will host its first event during the current half term and plans to host and share the work of other creative organisations.

Chief Executive Debbie Bucella told the BBC the organisation reached 13,000 children annually with its tour.

"When that funding got removed, sadly we had to stop doing that work, but we looked at what our assets were and the biggest thing that we have is this building," Bucella added.

"We decided we would reach children and still give them something spectacular and a great cultural experience but just within our own building".

An Arts Council England spokesperson added: "We're thrilled to see children and young people experience Theatre Alibi here in Exeter".

"Thanks to public funding, we are able to support their pivot to a new model at Emmanual Hall so that audiences of all ages can get creative."

Music in schools initiative gets further ACE funding

22 Jan 2024

An initiative to perform live classical music shows in school playgrounds will tour schools and venues nationwide this year after being given further funding by Arts Council England (ACE). 

Inspired by the BBC's Promenade Concerts, Playground Proms were initially developed by comedy string quartet Graffiti Classics in 2021 as a way to perform during COVID social distancing restrictions. They began as a collaboration with Cumbria Music Hub and toured across the county.

The charity said the latest grant from ACE, the third it has now received, will enable the project to be rolled out to even more schools later this year in collaboration with music hubs in Cumbria, East Riding, Lancashire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth and York, as well as a pilot project in Kent.

Cathal Ó Dúill from Playground Proms said, “We are so pleased to be able to take Playground Proms to even more school children in 2024 and are very grateful to Arts Council England for their support.

"We believe classical music can be enjoyed by everyone, and the response to our schools’ workshops and performances in the local communities shows this. 

"Some children we perform with may have never heard any live classical music before our visit, and we believe passionately in the transformative nature of live music in all children’s lives. 

"All our audiences really enjoy the music being presented in a new and fresh way, and we hope this can go some way to show there is interest from the public and classical music should be invested in."

Peterborough theatre undergoes £5m refurb

22 Jan 2024

Peterborough's Cresset theatre has closed for a month to allow all of its 876 seats to be replaced as part of a £5m refurbishment.

The BBC reports that the work is now underway to upgrade the venue to "modern standards" after owners, YMCA Trinity Group, were awarded £5.1m to develop the work it does with young people from the government-funded Youth Investment Fund for capital spending.

Work will include replacing the roof and drainage systems, installing a new lighting rig and sustainable theatre lighting, and facilities to help performers with access needs.

Penny Hansen, Cresset's Head of Commercial Activities, said: "This is all about safeguarding the building's future. We need a safe space, and this is about upgrading it to modern standards.

"We offer incredible opportunities for young people, and it is very much about doing more of that."

Young Vic arts education scheme helps ‘plug gaps’ in schools

Two pupils sit at computers for a lesson, a teacher leans forward to speak to them
16 Jan 2024

Young Vic's Innovate programme embedded six artists into two local schools to help teachers deliver creative activities as part of the core curriculum.

£500k announced for Barnet arts education programme

16 Jan 2024

The charity Barnet Education Arts Trust in North London is to allocate £500k over the next three years to cultural activities for children and young people outside mainstream education. 

North Finchley's cultural centre - artsdepot - will run the scheme for 8,000 children and young people working in partnership with 120 organisations.

The funding will be used to hold events for home-educated children educated, take touring shows to religious schools and for pupils with special educational needs educated at the Pavilion study centre in Whetstone.

There will also grants available for schools to bring artists into educational settings.

Meet the childhood friends transforming access to creative careers

Mae Yip and Samantha Hornsby
15 Jan 2024

Sam Hornsby and her best friend Mae Yip were sick of seeing young people experience the same lack of access to the creative industries they went through 20 years ago. So they did something about it.

Scottish Youth Music Initiative funds 52 community projects

A Keep the Beat participant, she wears a cowboy hat, pink hoodie and glasses
09 Jan 2024

The scheme, backed by the Scottish government, provides grants of up to £30k for music-making projects delivered outside of schools.

Arts Council England backs Darlington live music scheme

08 Jan 2024

A scheme to offer young people in Darlington opportunities in the live music sector has received funding from the Arts Council England (ACE).

The Forum Music Studios have been awarded £36,754 by ACE for the project, alongside £1000 from Creative Darlington, which is operated by Darlington Borough Council, towards running costs.

Launched by a community benefit society, The Forum Music Studio's “Young Blood” programme will run throughout 2024 and comprise three strands: Creators, Promoters, and Live, with professional support and mentorship.

Creators will offer weekly music skills sessions to 13- to 17-year-olds, while Promoters has been designed for 16-24-year-olds and will provide the opportunity to organise a live event with a budget under guidance from industry professionals.

The programmes culminate in Young Blood Live, a monthly gig for teenagers that will be held at The Forum.

Alison McKay, Director of The Forum Music Studios, said: “The music industry was heavily impacted by COVID-19, so it’s a privilege to be able to invite future generations to get involved in the Young Blood scheme and to be able to share their passion for live music.”

Rising popularity of arts degrees among Chinese students

21 Dec 2023

A report published by admissions service UCAS says UK universities should take advantage of rising interest in creative arts degrees among Chinese students.

In the last 10 years, Chinese students’ interest in creative arts and design subjects has more than doubled, going from 4% of UCAS acceptances in 2013 to 11% this year - making it the fourth most popular undergraduate subject for Chinese students.

Business has been the most popular degree subject among Chinese students for the past decade, but has fallen from making up 43% of undergraduate acceptances in 2013 to 26% in 2023.

China is the UK’s largest undergraduate global market, accounting for one in every four international acceptances via UCAS.

More Chinese students currently apply for degrees in the UK than students from Wales or Northern Ireland.

The UCAS report says that to remain competitive in the global market, higher institutions should proactively promote more subjects to Chinese students, such as the creative arts.

“The UK has a flourishing creative arts sector with world-leading TV and film, fashion, design and music industries so it’s encouraging to see growing numbers of Chinese students motivated to study in the UK due to the value of our vibrant arts and culture,” said Sander Kristel, UCAS Interim Chief Executive.

“This presents a significant opportunity for universities and colleges to promote the unique offering of our creative courses.”

Dance not taught at one in three primary schools

19 Dec 2023

A third of UK primary schools are not teaching dance, despite it being part of the National Curriculum, a report has found.

Ofsted’s latest subject report on PE also found that in two-thirds of the schools, dance is not taught to all pupils or that the dance content is “not well organised”. 

In its recommendations, the regulator advised schools to include “carefully sequenced and taught” dance lessons in both primary and secondary schools.

Eve Murphy, Founder and CEO of Dance to School, said: “Dance is a statutory requirement of the National Curriculum at both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, yet a worrying proportion of primary school teachers identify dance as an area for development in their school."

A survey conducted by Dance to School has found that 83 per cent of teachers lack the confidence, subject knowledge, and resources to deliver dance as part of the curriculum.

“We know from research that dance is linked to and can impact wider cross-curricular themes, as well as helping children to build confidence, creativity, and relationships," said Murphy.

"I see some incredible examples of dance in practice and the joy it brings to children. However, in those schools that aren’t teaching dance, it’s a negative spiral with teacher confidence continuing to waver.”

Contact's Artistic Director steps aside amid financial concerns

Exterior of Contact Theatre, Manchester lit up at night
18 Dec 2023

Iconic theatre sets out plans to tackle rising costs and place it on sustainable financial footing.

Peers urge greater opportunity to study creative subjects

13 Dec 2023

A cross-party group of life peers call for accountability measures to be reversed to help buck the decline of exam entries in creative subjects.

Theatre project for young people with care experience launches

12 Dec 2023

A theatrical ensemble for young people with experience with the care system has launched in Scotland.

WAC Pro aims to support professional development within the arts and provide young artists with creative skills. Participants will create 10 new pieces, consisting of five theatre productions and five films, with the support of industry professionals. 

Funded by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, WAC Pro will offer its members a series of masterclasses, one-to-one guidance, a daily freelance rate and a budget for their productions. 

The project is a collaboration with Citizens Theatre, GMAC Film, Arts in the City and WAC Ensemble, a theatre group for people with experience of being in care. 

WAC Ensemble was formed in 2019, initially for 18-to 26-year-olds, but has evolved to support members who have aged out of the original parameters of the project.

Deni Smith, Arts and Culture Development Worker at Arts in the City, said: “All of us have creativity within us; however, there are often barriers that we face when exploring that part of ourselves – particularly if we are embarking on a career in the creative industries; and, for individuals with care experience, they can be faced additional challenges. 

“WAC Pro has been designed to alleviate some of these barriers through the package of support provided. For the Ensemble members, who each have lived experience of care, the project provides a paid opportunity to dedicate time to their creative ideas.” 


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