Scottish hip hop is making a breakthrough

Namebliss performs at Pitch Scotland's conference
31 Jan 2023

Arusa Qureshi had the good fortune to receive a music bursary as a child. She argues that such funding is vital to fostering unexpected creative paths.

Creative project will support survivors of child sexual abuse

Theatre maker Viv Gordon performs Cutting Out. Viv is sat at a table cutting out images with a pair of scissors. She is wearing a brown jump suit
26 Jan 2023

Project designed to give survivors a creative platform to share their experiences, rights and concerns, receives multi-year funding from the Home Office.

Rotherham Children’s Capital of Culture gets £275k boost

25 Jan 2023

Rotherham Council’s cabinet has agreed to allocate a further £275,000 of funding for Rotherham as Children’s Capital of Culture in 2025.

The money will complement £1.84m in funding awarded by the government’s Community Renewal Fund in 2021 to help establish a “Creative and Cultural Skills Embassy” linked to the event and additional funding from Arts Council England.

The Yorkshire town is planning to brand itself as the world’s first Children’s Capital of Culture as part of a cultural strategy highlighting Rotherham as “a place people want to visit, where everyone can enjoy Rotherham through the eyes, ears and actions of children and young people”.

The money will be used to finance the next stage of the project over the coming year, with the Children’s Capital of Culture team will partner with three cultural providers and work with local young people to “deliver a programme of creative and cultural events, festivals, experiences and opportunities across Rotherham”, according to a cabinet paper.

“The ultimate goal of Children’s Capital of Culture is to support more children and young people across the borough to create a bolder, more ambitious and creative future for themselves, increasing overall pride and aspiration in our borough and nurturing a skilled young workforce that can make a real difference to Rotherham’s future,” said Children’s Capital of Culture Programme Manager Sarah Christie.

Funding shortfall puts Margate art school at risk of closure

24 Jan 2023

The Margate School has announced it is at risk of closure due to a funding shortfall of £150,000. 

The independent postgraduate school of arts, established in 2018, is facing a financial dead-end after several failed attempts to secure funding. 

The set-up of the school and its technical facilities was funded by the Coastal Community Fund, which also financed the support of students, studio holders and the community for a period of two years.

The non-profit school was intended to subsequently generate 50% of its budget independently and secure the other 50% through public funding.

But the lack of anticipated public funding, coupled with the impact of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis on the school’s independent income, has resulted in an existential threat.  

The school’s Founder and Director, Uwe Derkson, said it operates on “an extremely lean budget,” funnelling any profits into community investment.

The Margate School is the only higher education provider on the Isle of Thanet. Its current community consists of nine members of staff, 25 students, 17 tutors, 12 fellows and 42 studio holders, as well as a team of volunteers. 

To ensure its survival, the school needs to raise £150,000 which it is seeking to do via a crowdfunding campaign. 

If successful, it will aim to triple the size of its community in the next 10 years by creating additional courses and increasing student numbers, Derksen said. He also pledged that the school would increase its share of independent income and decrease its reliance on public funding.

“The Margate School is a brilliant local creative space that holds a variety of events and caters to a diverse section of society. The sense of community loss is devastating,” said Thanet District Council councillor Rob Yates. 

The school attracts over 16,000 visitors to the area annually, thanks to its programme of exhibitions, talks and events.

UK’s largest museum collaboration plans to inspire children

24 Jan 2023

Around 500 museums will collaborate on project aimed at inspiring children to visit museums and create artworks responding to the UK’s biodiversity crisis.

Southbank Centre and Apple unveil plans to support Black creatives

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook visiting London's Southbank Centre
23 Jan 2023

Initiative to improve access to the arts for emerging Black creatives has announced details of residencies in London, Manchester, and Birmingham and plans to work with local schools.

National Youth Theatre to offer free auditions

18 Jan 2023

The National Youth Theatre (NYT) is to hold free auditions in five cities and online next month February.

The auditions will take place in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, London and Manchester. Online auditions are via the National Youth Theatre Hub.

Successful applicants will be invited to take part in summer intake courses, which for the first time will also take place in cities around the country. 

Applications must be aged between 14 and 25 on the date the course starts. They will be asked to prepare a two-minute speech which could be from a published play, monologue book or film script.

The company will also offer be offering "backstage interviews" for young people interested in areas such as lighting, sound, stage management and costume.

NYT patron and alumnus Matt Smith said: "It's a great company and if you work hard, apply yourself and bring the right spirit, it's a place where you can really learn and develop, and a company that will nurture you."

Historic hospital secures £4.9m for restoration work

11 Jan 2023

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded £4.9m for the restoration of historic buildings at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

The work, which will be overseen by Barts Heritage will focus on conservation of the Great Hall and the Hogarth Stair, a staircase featuring two seven-foot-high canvasses painted by William Hogarth, depicting stories from the Bible.

The paintings require specialist cleaning and conservation, and the hall is also set to undergo extensive restoration work, including the repair and strengthening of the timber staircase and conservation work on an 18th Century chandelier. 

“We’re thrilled that our funding will be used to conserve these unique examples of Hogarth’s work and revitalise the stunning stair Hall for more and more people to appreciate and enjoy when visiting the historic buildings,” said Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive at The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The project includes an outreach component via a programme offering cultural and educational activities such as therapeutic artmaking courses, sensory heritage walking tours and mindfulness activities. 

Young people interested in heritage conservation can apply for placements, apprenticeships and volunteering roles.

Will Palin, Chief Executive of Barts Heritage said the project combines “the much-needed restoration of the one of the most important historic hospital buildings in the UK with a pioneering heritage and health programme”. 

“We are thrilled to have secured this transformative grant from the Heritage Fund and look forward to welcoming the public both during restoration works and after the project is complete,” he said.

Not all actors have to go to drama school

National Youth Theatre's production shot from 'GONE TOO FAR!'. There are two young men sitting in a trolley and a young women standing behind; they are all looking into the camera. Corner shop in the background.
11 Jan 2023

As the National Youth Theatre Rep Company approaches its 10th anniversary, its co-founder and Artistic Director Paul Roseby shares the joys and challenges of the last decade.

Gateshead’s Trinity Centre to undergo £1.4m redesign

10 Jan 2023

A former church in Gateshead is set to become a community and arts hub after restoration plans secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Gateway Studio, a dance and related arts charity, has received £1.4m in funding. The money will be used to acquire and restore the Trinity Centre, a Grade I-listed former church located on Gateshead High Street, one of town’s oldest sites.

Plans for the development of the building include the creation of studio perfromance space for open mic nights, acoustic sets and art exhibitions to showcase local talent, as well as office accommodation and a café.

Renovations are scheduled to be completed by September 2024.

“Dance and the arts are powerful tools in transforming individuals and communities,” Martin Hylton, Founder and Chief Executive of Gateway Studio, told the BBC.

“This new development will not only put Gateshead firmly on the map, in terms of developing and supporting professional artists, but will also help to transform the local community.”

Angela Douglas, Gateshead Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, said the new arts space was “an exciting and ambitious project”.

“As one of our only dedicated dance spaces in the borough, I'm sure the regeneration of the Trinity Centre will unlock their full potential,” she said.

National Portrait Gallery launches youth initiative with Raheem Sterling

14 Dec 2022

A charity established by England footballer Raheem Sterling has joined forces with the National Portrait Gallery to launch a creative youth engagement and skills development programme.

The London-based programme, called "Making of Me", aims to raise the career aspirations of 30 young people who want to express themselves creatively. 

Participants will be invited to take part in a series of 12 workshops and masterclasses, working with photographers, filmmakers and digital producers to create artworks exploring self-identity, representation, place and community.

They will be encouraged to take inspiration from portraits in the National Gallery’s collection.

The initiative aims to foster a sense of community and belonging among participants, while equipping them with a variety of skills and arming them with the knowledge needed to forge creative careers.

It is part of the National Gallery’s Inspiring People project, increasing the gallery’s reach during its closure. The programme will culminate in 2023, when the venue is set to reopen after major transformations to its building, with an exhibition of the participants’ work.

“Social mobility, education and employment make up the foundation’s three pillars and this project is a perfect fit for what we are aiming to achieve – helping to expand horizons, raise aspirations and create opportunities for the next generation,” said Clive Ellington, Chair of Trustees for the Raheem Sterling Foundation.

Drama school to remain open thanks to crowdfunding

13 Dec 2022

READ College in Reading has been saved from closure after raising £40,000 to help pay for the building’s running costs.

The funds were raised by a crowdfunding campaign after the college, based in a Grade II listed Victorian church building, was unable to keep pace with increasing costs, including rising energy prices. 

READ’s Artistic Director Clara Vaughan, said that the risk of closure was prompted by the cost-of-living crisis, the pandemic and a loss of ability to host international students.

“It was extremely difficult for us to put out the call for help. It felt so scary and vulnerable to have to say we're in this position,” she told the BBC. “I don't think any of us were expecting quite the amount of support that we received.”

The money gifted by donors, several of whom work in the performing arts sector, will enable the college to continue offering classes in January. Its recovery plan includes two further phases.

“We have challenges ahead of us but we're a really strong team and we have a lot of energy and desire to solve those challenges,” Vaughan said.

Drama school 'faces closure in weeks'

02 Dec 2022

A drama school in Reading has warned that it will be forced to close by the end of the year if it cannot raise sufficient funds within the next 10 days.

In a statement published on its website, READ College, which has been operating for 15 years, said it is in financial trouble "due to the relentless cost-of-living crisis, our continuous recovery from Covid and the loss of our ability to host international students".

"READ College is facing a critical time," the statement said. 

"We have seen businesses and colleges close around us due to the rise in the cost of living and soaring energy prices, the nation is struggling and we now find ourselves in an unsustainable financial position."

It said that if sufficient funds are not raised by 12 December there will be "no choice but to close our doors at the end of this term".

It has launched a #SaveREADCollege campaign and is asking people to donate online.

EBacc will not be amended to include the arts

02 Dec 2022

There are no plans to amend the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) to include creative subjects, Education Minister Robert Halfon has said.

Halfon’s comments came during a House of Lords Select Committee inquiry into the future challenges for the creative industries, held last week.

When asked by committee member Lord Foster of Bath if the government was going to add creative subjects to the Ebacc, Halton said: "There will not be any changes to the EBacc. The government believes that the EBacc should be studied as part of a broad and balanced curriculum."

The EBacc is an accountability measure in England’s education sector which measures the proportion of children who secure a grade 5 or above in at least seven GCSEs in five areas - english language, english literature, maths, double science or biology, chemistry and physics, history or geography and a language. 

The Department for Education has set a target of 90% of pupils achieving the EBacc by 2025.

The exclusion of the arts from the Ebacc is widely regarded as a key reason for the decline in uptake of creative subjects in higher education.

In the committee hearing, Halfon said an extra £115m is being invested in arts, heritage and creative subjects in schools: "A music plan came out last year that extends music opportunities for pupils across the board and aids those who want to go into the music industry."

He added that ministers are working on cultural schools plan, which he said is due to come out next year.

Northern Ireland brings artists into the classroom

29 Nov 2022

Eleven schools in Belfast and Londonderry will receive funding enabling them to participate in a pioneering education programme inviting professional artists to share their skills with children in the classroom.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Education Authority and the Urban Villages Initiative have announced funding to continue the Creative Schools programme.

Participating schools are invited to collaborate with artists working in fields including animation, film-making, journalism, music production, photography and scriptwriting. 

The Creative Schools programme was originally launched as a pilot in 2017 and has to date benefited 1,000 pupils. Last year, schools were invited to apply for up to £15,000 in funding to develop a bespoke project. 

“The Creative Schools programme is a landmark arts and education project,” said Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, which is investing £100,000 from its National Lottery funds in the scheme.

“It brings professional artists into the classroom to deliver practical and creative lessons that broaden learning opportunities for our young people, opening up creative career pathways.”

The programme is beneficial for students’ mental health, enabling young people “to experience a sense of freedom, self-expression and enjoyment”, said Education Authority Chairman Barry Mulholland.

Study highlights lack of diversity in school drama texts

25 Nov 2022

Drama texts by white playwrights account for the vast majority of plays taught in secondary schools across England and Wales, a study has found.

Research conducted by Bloomsbury Publishing found that 90% of drama texts taught at GCSE and 96% at A-Level English Literature were by white playwrights. 

The study also found that there are currently just two drama set texts by Global Majority writers available at A-Level English Literature.

The lack of diversity in drama texts contrasts with 93% of teachers saying they would like to see a more ethnically diverse range of writers offered by exam boards. 

Meanwhile 65% of teachers said there was a demand from their students to study more ethnically diverse writers.

"Our research shows that there is real appetite for change and that publishers, theatre makers, examiners and teachers need to work together to deliver change to the curriculum," Margaret Bartley, Editorial Director for Literary Drama at Bloomsbury Publishing, said.

"If we empower teachers to switch texts with confidence, students can continue to benefit from the positive impact and influence of studying plays. 

"In the future, those plays will better reflect the student cohort and ensure students see themselves represented in the texts they study. 

"Bloomsbury is committed to playing our part in delivering this change through our proactive programme of new play text publishing, supported by the resources teachers and students need to study and enjoy them."

Headteachers 'fear arts and drama cuts' due to budget pressures

21 Nov 2022

Subjects including art, drama and design technology are in danger of being withdrawn in many state school schools due to financial constraints.

The Observer reports that headteachers are being forced into cutting expensive and less popular lessons to address crippling deficits.

With the vast majority of English state schools expected to be in the red by the next school year, thousands of schools are planning to make teachers and teaching assistants redundant or cut their hours, it said. 

In addition, unions and headteachers say schools may be forced to scrap courses that have smaller uptake, as they are less economical to teach.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Subjects we have always seen as culturally really important will increasingly become the preserve of private schools because state schools can’t afford to teach them.”

George McMillan, Executive Principal at Harris Academy schools in Greenwich and Ockendon in Essex, said: “For A-level we are already in a position where to make subjects work financially you need at least 100 students in each year group. Anything that isn’t popular enough can’t run.”

Germany to launch culture pass for young adults

16 Nov 2022

The German government is introducing cultural vouchers for young people early next year.

A pilot of the KulturPass, expected to cost the German government €100m, will see everyone who turns 18 in Germany next year receive a €200 voucher to spend on culture.

Recipients will be able to use the voucher over a two-year period. It will be managed through an app and website that advertises cultural offers ranging from books and records to concerts, theatre and museum visits.

Online and international platforms, including Amazon and Spotify, have been excluded from the scheme, to make sure recipients support local cultural providers.

According to the Germany Embassy in London, the scheme aims “to expose young people to the arts and provide a financial boost to the cultural sector”.

Germany’s Culture Minister Claudia Roth and Finance Minister Christian Lindner said the scheme would be extended to a wider age group if the pilot is successful.

Several European countries already administer cultural vouchers for young adults, including France, Italy and Spain.

Drama school to open in Suffolk

16 Nov 2022

A new drama school offering students a diploma in musical theatre industry preparation is opening in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

CAST will open its doors to 25 students each year, at the cost of £10,000 annually, with its first cohort scheduled to start in September 2023.

The three-year diploma will train students in singing, acting and dancing, alongside offering training in self-management, working as a freelancer and managing social media.

West End performer Ruthie Henshall is opening the school, supported by composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and choreographer Stephen Mear.

Henshall said a large part of the training at CAST will ensure graduates can stay relevant within a rapidly changing industry.

“I am lucky enough to have been able to call on an illustrious panel of rising stars and musical theatre legends to develop a course and ethos that best serves our students as they start their journeys in this new world,” she added.

CAST will be accepting applications from both UK-based and international students, with an online submissions portal now open.

Music exam discount scheme aims to remove financial barriers

10 Nov 2022

A new music exam discount scheme hopes to remove the financial barriers for students who struggle to pay exam fees.

The pilot scheme launched by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) will enable students to save up to 95% of the cost of practical and performance grades, as well as music theory exams.

Operated by Music Mark, the UK’s subject association for music education, the scheme is available to local authority music services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Each music service provider will be allocated exam discounts based on published school roll numbers, with adjustments for deprivation.

Schools will have discretion over the level of discount requested for each student. However, ABRSM said they are "likely to follow existing fee remissions policies that many music services already have in place".

ABRSM’s Chief Executive, Chris Cobb, said: "At a time when costs and prices are increasing, we are ever more aware that many families are facing financial hardship.

"The pilot discount scheme is about working with music services to help them support those facing the biggest challenges, and about helping to make music learning and progression more accessible for more people."

The pilot is operating in the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. It will run until July 2024.


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