'Institutional change' needed to boost creative sector diversity

Students holding tablets and phone talk in university lobby
25 Oct 2023

Access to creative Higher Education courses is ‘highly unequal’ and institutional change is required to improve diversity within the sector, report finds.

Music hubs losing pupils and schools over rising costs

24 Oct 2023

Research finds music hubs and services are being forced to increase prices amid rising costs and funding gaps, but parents and schools are not always able to absorb the price hike.

Hastings schools chosen for art education pilot

24 Oct 2023

A pilot project to develop a new approach to arts education will be run across a group of schools in Hastings, East Sussex.

The Clore Duffield Foundation is working with the Ark group of schools to explore how it can support multi-academy trusts to "deliver excellent and inspiring arts education".

During the project, Ark will work with local and national artists and arts organisations to give all pupils the chance to develop their creativity. 

A range of arts initiatives and partnerships will be trialled, culminating in an arts festival in Hastings in July 2024.

Kate Bellamy, Director of the Clore Duffield Foundation said: “We believe that an excellent arts education is essential for children, young people and the creative industries to thrive. 

"The Foundation has spent the past 20 years supporting cultural institutions to create Clore Learning Spaces for arts education. 

"But not all schools and families can easily access these. So, we are partnering with Ark Schools to explore how multi academy trusts can develop inspiring arts education programmes, ensuring all their pupils benefit."

Work on Portsmouth Guildhall renovation begins

18 Oct 2023

Work to transform the basement of Portsmouth Guildhall into a new creative space for young people to collaborate and perform in will begin on Monday (23 October) as part of a £1.3m project.

The work, supported by £500,000 of funding from Arts Council England and £550,000 from Portsmouth Council, will see the main basement area and associated rooms remodelled to provide space for young people aged between 11 and 25 to "meet and explore their creative potential".

The facility, called The Base, will open in late Spring 2024.

Andy Grays, CEO of The Guildhall Trust, said: “The transformation of the basement is an exciting phase of the Renaissance of Portsmouth Guildhall. 

"The Base will allow us to provide a much more suitable environment for some of our existing work with young people, such as Urban Vocal Group, and importantly provide a new, supportive and much needed facility within our community that will help young people to flourish and feel safe.”

Refugee music programme needs further funding to continue

17 Oct 2023

A music academy supporting Ukrainian refugees has said it requires further funding to continue its programme.

Last week, the London Performing Academy of Music (LPMAM) celebrated the graduation of its first intake of Ukrainian refugee music students.

Since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, LPMAM has enrolled 54 Ukrainian students, 32 of whom are studying in London, while the rest are studying online.

The academy has been supported by licensing company PPL and record labels association BPI, while scholarships for student refugees have been donated by The BRIT Awards and Universal Music UK.

But a press release published on behalf of the academy says it is “in desperate need of further funding from other parts of the industry to continue its programme”.

Speaking at the academy’s Winter Graduation Ceremony, LPMAM Founder, Dr Stefania Passamonte, said: “We’re so moved by this inaugural success of students saved from the conflict in Ukraine… even more so as three of them had to return after their exams and could not be honoured in person.”

Campaign launches to ensure every child visits theatre

17 Oct 2023

A campaign led by Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre is aiming to give every child the opportunity to go to the theatre before they leave school.

The Theatre for Every Child Campaign officially launched at an opening event at London Palladium yesterday (16 October).

It has set its first target as lobbying politicians to include a commitment in their general election manifestos for every child to attend a theatre before they leave school.

According to research conducted by SOLT and UK Theatre, 84% of parents would support the pledge.

The campaign is proposing government then introduces ring-fenced funding to ensure the target is met.

Claire Walker, Co-CEO of the theatre bodies, commented: “We believe every child has the right to experience and enjoy our country’s world-leading theatre. 

“Despite amazing work that theatres do up and down the country, access is not equal. This is not right. Which is why we are calling on all political parties to support our call for every child to attend the theatre before they leave school.” 

Actor, writer and campaign supporter, Lolita Chakrabarti, added: “Theatre changes lives. It encourages empathy and widens our understanding of ourselves in the world. Every child should experience the transformative effects of going to the theatre.”

“A Theatre Fund would guarantee minimum equal access, which can only benefit every child and in the end, the whole of society.”

Post-NPO life

Party with people on stage and balloons
10 Oct 2023

Following the closure of the Bridge network earlier this year, and an unsuccessful bid for ACE funding, Nick Owen of The Mighty Creatives still thinks there’s life after funding loss.

Youth culture collaboration launches

04 Oct 2023

An initiative designed to nurture young and emerging talent from East London has launched.

The partnership, based at Stratford Youth Zone, will see a £733,000-a-year investment go towards supporting creative and performing arts opportunities in Newham through social and emotional learning programmes, as well as activities focused on drama, music, dance, fashion, games design, filmmaking, screenwriting and visual and digital arts. 

Professor Amanda Broderick, Vice-Chancellor and President of UEL, said the "exciting and pioneering" collaboration will help support future cultural leaders, advocates and influencers of the arts. 

"Together, we are driving innovation in the arts sector and beyond, and of course making sure our young peoples’ voices are heard and supported to achieve their ambitions, their dreams and their aspirations,” she said.

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz said the collaboration with the University of East London is an evolution of the council's commitment to young people and highlights the borough's cultural credentials as it bids for London Borough of Culture 2025.

"We are injecting a creative spirit into our programmes by putting arts and cultural at the heart of our mission," she said. 

"As we mobilise for our Borough of Culture 2025 bid, this collaboration shows that Newham is the heart of London’s culture.”

Ofsted finds inequalities in music education persist

A music teacher playing piano for a class of children
02 Oct 2023

An Ofsted report examining music in schools has found inequalities in opportunities to learn an instrument continue to impact pupil success in the subject.

Secondary school jointly run with orchestra opens

19 Sep 2023

A new state school run in partnership with a professional orchestra has opened in the West Midlands, offering enhanced music education for students in one of England's most deprived boroughs.

Shireland CBSO Academy in West Bromwich has been founded in collaboration with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO). Pupils can take advantage of weekly workshops, performances, masterclasses and free instrumental tuition for at least two years. 

The school, which opened its doors to 138 Year 7s on 5 September, follows the national curriculum, with music embedded throughout. 

Principal David Green told the BBC, "We are a completely normal school. We have French, Art, Maths, Science - all the things you'd expect, but we have this really special partnership with the CBSO, which is giving these students a level of musical opportunity they just wouldn't get elsewhere".

The intention is for all students to study GCSE Music, which has seen a 45.2% nationwide drop in uptake since 2008.

CBSO’s Chief Executive Emma Stenning told the BBC there is "a crisis in music education in schools.

"There's not the funding, there's not the skill set, there's not the time made to study music. This school is here to buck that trend and prove what an amazing part of a young person's education music can be", she added.

Music education body assembles youth advisory board

18 Sep 2023

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) has convened its first youth advisory board.

The board is made up of 30 children and young people aged between 10 and 25. They consist of pianists, rappers, singers and composers who will help shape the future direction of the music charity.

Members will advise on issues including repertoire, digital resources and events, while also contributing to the strategic direction of the organisation.

Georgina, a 23-year old French horn player said she hopes the board’s discussions “will help to make the wonderful world of music open and accessible to all”.

The board met for the first time last week and is part of ABSRM’s commitment to supporting the next generation of musicians and embedding the voices of young people.

ABSRM Chief Executive, Chris Cobb, said: “This is an incredibly exciting initiative and it’s great to be launching it with such a fantastic group of passionate musicians. 

“We’re looking forward to listening to, learning from, and collaborating with them.”

South Yorkshire bids to become music education hub

14 Sep 2023

South Yorkshire has thrown its hat in the ring to become the home of a new music education hub.

The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) approved plans to apply to Arts Council England (ACE) funding to become a Hub Lead Organisation (HLO) at a meeting on Tuesday.

In June, it was announced that the number of music education hubs nationwide would be cut by almost two-thirds from the academic year 2024/25.

The change forms part of the new Investment Programme for Music Hubs, which ACE is delivering on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE).

Established in 2012, music hubs offer young people aged between 5 and 18 the opportunity to learn an instrument and join music groups and choirs, as well as provide training for teachers. There are 116 hubs across the country, including locations in Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham. 

The ACE-administered bidding process to become a new HLO opened in July. When the investment programme begins in September 2024, the number of music hubs will fall to 43, a reduction of 63%. 

A paper drawn up by officials said the new hub would build upon South Yorkshire's "rich, diverse and growing music ecosystem" and "enhance music education delivery across the region", according to the BBC.

Stuart Whatmore, Head of the Tri-borough Music Hub (TBMH), a leading figure in music education, has previously cautioned that the top-down nature of planned government reforms could create “more challenge, more crisis-management and potentially less creativity” in local areas. 

Bringing live music to Birkenhead

An image of Future Yard building
05 Sep 2023

Covid was a challenging time for live music. But that didn’t stop Future Yard, a new live music venue in Birkenhead, from opening its doors - with the help of a loan - as Director Craig Pennington tells Seva Phillips.

Schools in deprived areas get music equipment funds

Pupils at Hallsville Primary School hold their ukuleles
05 Sep 2023

Money will go to 29 schools in areas of high deprivation to provide access to musical instruments to young people facing the biggest barriers.

Entries to GCSE arts exams hit new low

Pupils in a classroom with a teacher overlooking their work
30 Aug 2023

The total number of exam entries to all creative arts subjects falls by 4% compared with last year, representing its smallest ever share of total GCSE exam entries.

Green light for BRIT School in Bradford

Aerial view of Bradford city centre
22 Aug 2023

Approval is heralded as a signal government recognises the importance of cultural education, but there are questions around the lack of support for existing infrastructure in the North.

Entries to creative A-levels fall again

Student playing the saxophone in music lesson.
22 Aug 2023

Sector leaders reignite call for educational reforms as entries to exams in creative subjects make up just over 10% of all A-levels. 

Wolverhampton receives £996k for youth arts programme

A young woman playing guitar and singing into a microphone
17 Aug 2023

Three-year calendar of arts and culture activities will involve around 1,500 young people in co-design and engage more than 23,000 children.

Theatre careers programme to improve access and diversity

17 Aug 2023

A partnership between Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) and charity Get Into Theatre is launching a nationwide programme to improve access to jobs and increase diversity in theatre.

The scheme, Work in Theatre, will take place across 15 ATG venues and offer digital activities through Get Into Theatre’s website.
The year-long project, funded by Arts Council England, aims to reach more than 30,000 young people and will focus on three strands of work: work experience, a teacher conference, and emerging artist commissions.

Get Into Theatre Director Alex Duarte-Davies said getting young people who want to build a career in theatre through those physical doors “can often be a daunting challenge”. 

“This collaboration with ATG will see those doors opened wide and ensure that young people from all backgrounds are given the same opportunities to ‘get into theatre’. 

“It is a step in breaking down those barriers between education and industry, to ensure that the future of the sector is both representational and accessible.”

Lack of creative careers awareness

A young person recording a music performance using video equipment
16 Aug 2023

Concerns raised that school leavers are not being informed of opportunities in the creative industries.


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