Young people as changemakers

The Agency national gathering at Contact, Manchester
20 Nov 2023

For ten years, The Agency has supported young people to create social change projects for their communities. Andrew Westle shares its journey over the decade.

Birmingham Hippodrome launches teacher support initiative

20 Nov 2023

Birmingham Hippodrome has launched a new programme for teachers and educators in the West Midlands in a bid to get more young people in the area engaged with theatre.

Teachers in the scheme will be invited to see live performances at the Hippodrome and attend talks, pre and post-show events and networking events where they can meet and connect with other educators, artists and creatives.

It is hoped that successful applicants will expand their knowledge and be keen to be advocates for the power of theatre for young people.

Zayle-Dawn Wilson, Head of Creative Partnerships at Birmingham Hippodrome, said: “Schools are facing significant challenges in the current climate. 

"In our last benchmarking survey, schools reported over 60% of teachers felt inexperienced in arts education, and over 50% unable to engage young people with the arts. Our vision is to support the education sector by inspiring teachers, to in turn support and inspire their young people.”

Birmingham Hippodrome currently works with 44 primary, secondary and SEN schools and colleges across the region, providing young people with the chance to experience and connect with theatre through the Hippodrome Education Network.

ACE commits £1.2m to young people's initiative in Sunderland

A Creative You crafts workshop for young people at Arts Centre Washington
20 Nov 2023

A multi-year programme providing free arts and culture activities to young people in Sunderland has been backed by a £1.196m grant from Arts Council England.

Autumn Statement: Creative industries urge action on arts education

Mature teacher working with art students during painting class at school
17 Nov 2023

Lack of investment in art and design education is having a 'damaging impact' on one of the UK’s most successful sectors, new campaign group warns.

Partnership offers hundreds of gigs for young artists

08 Nov 2023

A partnership between two organisations based in Manchester is offering hundreds of paid gigs to young emerging artists.

Live music marketplace GigPig and arts organisation Reform Radio are collaborating to help artists launch their professional careers.

Reform Radio says it will use its platform to engage young adults looking for new opportunities, working creatively with them over a sustained period to develop new skills for employment.

The station supported 316 young people last year and has a community of more than 500 artists working with the organisation at any one time.

Meanwhile GigPig, which already offers artists a free platform to find, play and get paid for gigs, will match artists up with Manchester venues each month. 

Reform Radio’s Station Manager Robin Guérard said: “The ultimate goal is to enable the city’s venues to discover new artists, in turn giving young artists a platform to establish themselves as professional artists; from where they can build their profile and connections to secure repeat work.”

“I truly believe that with more partnerships like this, we will improve the industry for all new and existing professional artists.”

Creativity classes boost confidence of pupils and teachers

06 Nov 2023

Teaching creativity in primary schools can help students and teachers improve their skills, according to new research funded by Arts Council England and the Freelands Foundation.

The year-long study, which was conducted by University of Exeter and worked with teachers from the Penryn Partnership in West Cornwall, found "notable increases" in both teachers' abilities to facilitate creativity and students' capacity to develop creative skills.

Teachers taking part reported “increasing confidence and practice” in teaching for creativity. Meanwhile, researchers found children took more risks in developing ideas and experienced a greater connection with knowledge and skills they had previously been taught. 

One teacher said: "This study has confirmed to me that making the time and space for creativity in the secondary classroom is vital if we want to equip teenagers with the kinds of skills that they so clearly need for the future."

Associate Professor Kerry Chappell, who jointly authored the report, said the findings gave “insight into how it’s possible to teach for creativity."

She added: "The fact that our research synthesis was also able to demonstrate widespread developments in both creative teaching and students’ creative skills shows that the Creativity Collaborative project has impact and could be scaled up nationally.”

Liverpool orchestra partners with Cumbrian port town

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra strings section
31 Oct 2023

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will provide a three-year programme of concerts, community events and educational activities in Barrow-in-Furness, located nearly 100 miles to the north of Merseyside.

Henry Moore Institute to close for major renovation

30 Oct 2023

The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds will close next month for renovation works expected to last until next summer.

The refurbishment will include a new dedicated public engagement workshop, an improved welcome area and Research Library entrance, refreshed activity space and new toilets and baby changing facilities.

Meanwhile, solar panels will be installed on the roof.

Laurence Sillars, Head of the Henry Moore Institute, said: "These alterations will bring a significant step-change to how, and where, our programmes are experienced, retaining our world-renowned research facilities while ensuring that young people — our potential great creative thinkers of the future — feel at home. 

"We’re looking forward to reopening our doors next summer with revitalised spaces that better serve our visitors and the vibrant communities of Leeds and beyond.”

The institute will close to the public from 27 November.

'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. 


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