A hard time to be a leader

on stage production of Les Miserables
01 Dec 2021

After a hugely successful eight years at the helm at Mountview, its two directors are handing over the reins. Here, Sarah Preece reflects on the leadership challenges facing the drama training sector.

Parents support creative university degrees

13 Jan 2022

UK parents are in favour of university-level creative courses and recognise their economic benefits, new research indicates.

A study conducted for Universities UK found 65% of parents agree that creative degrees benefit the UK economy, with 69% saying students on these course gain skills to power the creative industry.

Two thirds said the pandemic has caused long term damage to the UK’s creative industries.

In response, Universities UK is launching MadeAtUni: Creative Sparks, a campaign to showcase creative talent and encourage the Government to support creative university degrees.

Universities UK Chief Executive Alistair Jarvis said universities are central to the UK’s creative excellence: "They’re where the nation’s creative sparks are ignited."

Schools may have to suspend music teaching, DfE warns

12 Jan 2022

Professionals have voiced "real concerns" over the proposal, saying it would harm pupils more than it helps them.

ALRA makes second round auditions free

12 Jan 2022

There will be no fees for applicants who make it to the second round of acting auditions at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) this year.

The conservatoire said it wants everyone to be able to audition regardless of background or financial situation.

Although there is still a £5 administration fee for the initial audition, it says the subsequent £30 fee has been removed: "We know that £30 can be a steep cost for some, especially if the applicant is applying to several schools."

Sonia Watson-Fowler, ALRA’s Director of Culture and Creativity, called it "a small yet necessary step towards the long-term goal of creating and maintaining a more inclusive organisation".

Black British theatre

Students at BADA
11 Jan 2022

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, many drama schools committed to reform their curricula. Oladipo Agboluaje shares a ground-breaking programme that has emerged as a result.

Partnership to expand music education in South East

05 Jan 2022

A new partnership aims to grow options for music tuition in the South East of England. 

Brighton & Hove Music & Arts (BHMA), which manages the Create Music hub, has joined forces with East Sussex Music (ESM) to expand its online offering.

Create Music Director Peter Chivers said the partners will share resouces and skills to reach more learners.

BHMA Chief Executive Andrew Comben added: "As access to the arts becomes increasingly difficult for a lot of communities, offering affordable tuition in familiar locations or online is essential to keep young people engaged."

More inclusive classical music

violinists play classical music in an orchestra
05 Jan 2022

Poor quality data about classical music is a significant obstacle to understanding its lack of diversity. But Anna Bull thinks ACE’s new research provides some valuable insights.

Covid harmed drama education

group of drama students perform on stage
14 Dec 2021

More than half of drama teachers saw a drop in pupils choosing the subject at GCSE and A-Level following remote learning. 

Survey to explore culture collaborations in higher education

14 Dec 2021

Researchers are calling for arts workers involved in higher education to contribute to a new survey.

The National Centre for Academic and Cultural Exchange has extended its questionnaire until December 20 to explore collaborations between the two sectors.

Devised and led by Dr Thanasis Sypriadis, the survey asks how confident and supported arts professionals feel collaborating with educational institutions, what could be improved, and the role the centre might have in this.

Anyone who has been involved in the joint devising, leadership, or delivery of projects, research or activities is encouraged to take part

New global exchange programme for young musicians

13 Dec 2021

Young musicians will benefit from a new international exchange scheme at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) when it launches in September.

The Sir Elton John Global Exchange Programme, named for its benefactor, offers exchanges ranging from one week to a year in length at internationally renowned conservatoires.

Twelve schools including Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Renia Sofia School of Music in Madrid, Berlin's Hanns Eisler Academy, Sydney Conservatorium of Music and The Julliard School have confirmed exchanges thus far.

RAM Principal Jonathan Freeman-Attwood said the participating institutions have "long been friends" of the academy.

"What drives this latest programme is the need for music - indeed all the arts - to break down the kinds of boundaries and barriers which actively work against the open spirit of creative enquiry and collaboration between different countries."

Dance partnership to 'lift the curtain' for students

10 Dec 2021

A new partnership will "lift the curtain" on the the dance industry for students.

Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Academy of Dance will launch the new programme in February with a series of pre-show talks and workshops for dancers and company staff.

They aim to inspire young dancers and deepen their understanding and appreciation of ballet as an art form.

The academy's Artistic Director Gerard Charles says there is "so much more to studying ballet than simply learning the steps".

"We are all part of a large dance community that includes beginners, experienced dancers and teachers, and we learn from each other. I cannot wait to see how our dancers and teachers benefit from this amazing opportunity."

Wales extends creative curriculum until 2025

06 Dec 2021

Wales' action plan for creative learning has been extended until March 2025.

Since its launch in 2015, 84% of Welsh schools have engaged with the creative curriculum, creating 238,000 opportunities for learners.

The Welsh Government will announce curriculum reforms next year that are expected to include expressive arts as one of six core pillars.

Arts Council of Wales Director of Arts Engagement Diane Hebb said the three year extension will support arts-rich experiences in school. 

“The achievements of the programme to date have been extraordinary and evidence continues to show that the impact has been transformational for learners, teachers and schools, and indeed for artists alike.”

NI schools funded to work with professional artists

30 Nov 2021

Eleven schools in Northern Ireland will each receive funding to hire professional artists.

£15,000 has been awarded by the Creative Schools Partnership, a combination of National Lottery, Education Authority and NI Executive funding, across the schools' proposals.

Projects include screenwriting, dance, photography, filmmaking and music composition. Grants will cover two years' work.

First Minister Paul Givan said: “This successful partnership has already seen hundreds of children engage with the programme within post-primary schools in urban villages areas.

“The young people have benefited from this innovative arts-based approach, which has supported curriculum learning and improved their educational outcomes.”


‘Seismic’ shift towards digital music learning

30 Nov 2021

ABRSM has reported a "seismic" shift towards digital music learning.

64% of children use digital resources to make music, according to the music board's Making Music 2021 report.

Whilst 59% of children and 27% of adults surveyed currently play an instrument, 86% and 43% respectively said they are making music, suggesting a trend towards online tools.

Despite increases in digital participation, 11% fewer children are taking instrumental lessons at schools than in 2014.

Finance remains a barrier to participation. People from wealthier households are 1.4 times more likely to play a musical instrument, with 25% of children and 18% of adults who never played an instrument saying this was due to expense.

The music sector must work to overcome “fundamental and deep-seated barriers” that stop people accessing music, ABSRM Chief Executive Chris Cobb commented.

Classical music inaccessible to less affluent families

17 Nov 2021

A three-year research project aims to improve diversity in classical music, where women remain underrepresented in top roles and 95% of orchestral musicians are white.

Training programme offers 'alternative pathway into theatre'

10 Nov 2021

A new two-year training programme will offer a “genuine alternative pathway into theatre” for people from underrepresented backgrounds.

Lyric Hammersmith Theatre has announced details of the free programme for aspiring West London performers, Springboard.

Applicants must be aged 18-25, have little-to-no formal drama training, and come from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds or groups underrepresented in theatre.

The programme will start in January, offering 10 chosen trainees a blend of on-and-off-stage learning, including shadowing days across the theatre's departments.

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Emmanuel Kaye Foundation have agreed to co-fund the programme for the next three years, supporting the first cohort of students.

LIPA makes first acting auditions free

08 Nov 2021

The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) is making its first round of acting auditions free.

The school is also making all first round auditions self-taped, having moved auditions online during Covid-19. 

“We found that asking for a self-tape submission last year enabled us to meet a number of individuals we wouldn’t otherwise have connected with, and I think that’s reflected in the makeup of this year’s first years,” said Head of Acting Will Hammond.

Fees for second round in-person auditions and in-person dance auditions are being reduced from £40 to £30.

LIPA says the changes are reflect efforts to increase access and diversity. 

It will continue to offer audition fee waivers and travel grants to applicants who come from areas of the country with lower rates of higher education uptake.

£1.9m to transform 500 primary school libraries

pupil sat in a primary school library
03 Nov 2021

New investment into the World of Stories programme will target seven areas highlighted as Arts Council England priority places.

Online opera course to take students 'behind the scenes'

03 Nov 2021

A new online initiative for opera lovers from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) aims to shed light on the complex workings of the opera and musical theatre industry.

Opera 360 will include short courses led by RWCMD tutors, offering "behind the scenes" knowledge of working in the industry.

The college is also offering a full Opera 360 Masters degree, which can be applied for through UCAS.

James Lea, course leader of Opera 360, said: “We wanted to offer a course that allows people to see how opera is brought to the stage.

“The myriad formats in which opera is produced, and its ability to reach diverse audiences, are subjects worthy of serious study.”

Opera 360 will launch in September 2022.

Former ballet principal jailed for sexual assaults

27 Oct 2021

Yat-Sen Chang, a former principal dancer at English National Ballet, has been sentenced to nine years' imprisonment for sexually abusing young dancers.

He was convicted on 13 counts and cleared of one offence in May.

Four students aged 16 to 18 were affected over a seven year period.

Prosecutors at Isleworth Crown Court said Chang believed his fame and status would protect him. He continues to deny the allegations.

English National Ballet has said it will review its safeguarding practices in light of the case.


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