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.

Make music compulsory in schools, says refreshed plan

30 Jun 2022

The updated national plan for music education offers a renewed focus on schools but falls short of addressing all concerns raised over the last decade.

National Lottery awards £13.7m for community projects

30 Jun 2022

Six projects designed to support heritage, culture and nature have received funding from the National Lottery to help communities recover from the impact of the pandemic. 

A total of £13.7m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has been allocated, including £2.1m to Leeds Culture Trust for its Leeds 2023 project, a creative programme that aims to "let culture loose" across the whole city. 

The funding will be used to help uncover hidden community stories, celebrate art, music, dance and industrial history; reconnect people with nature; explore the traditions and role of different cultures in Leeds.

Meanwhile, Derbyshire Dales District Council has been awarded £1m for its Hurst Farm Heritage Trail project.

And Blyth Tall Ship has been awarded £636,600 for its Blyth Heritage Community Response project, which will provide group activities to develop their skills and improve their own wellbeing and employability.

Other beneficiaries are Redruth Revival for its project Redruth Buttermarket: Rediscovering the Market Town, the Tweed Forum for its Destination Tweed: Source to Sea Restoration and Revitalisation project, and NatureScot for its Species on the Edge project.

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I am delighted that we were able to support these exciting projects, which put heritage at the heart of people and places. 

"It is so uplifting to see the continued ambition in the light of the impact of the pandemic and ongoing challenges, protecting our precious heritage and supporting communities to recover and thrive."

Plymouth College of Art gains university status

28 Jun 2022

Following approval from the Privy Council, Plymouth College of Art has been granted full university status and formally recognised with the new title of Arts University of Plymouth. 

Plymouth’s specialist arts university was founded in 1856 as Plymouth Drawing School and operates two city centre campuses for over 1,750 students. As a university, it will offer a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and pre-degree courses spanning art, design and digital media.

“Achieving full university status is just our latest evolution in over 160 years of leading specialist arts education in the South West and internationally,” said Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Arts University Plymouth. 

“Our vision for Arts University Plymouth is a new kind of art school for the 21st century, preparing graduates who are uniquely placed to provide creative solutions to the complex problems faced by modern society, spanning everything from the acceleration of new technologies to the global challenges facing healthcare, sustainability and the climate emergency.”

Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan said that the granting of full university status “is fully deserved and an historical moment for the city of Plymouth”.
 
“With this new status, I am confident that Arts University Plymouth will continue to help make dreams come true and equip graduates for a career in the creative industries whilst providing a blueprint for success to other creative providers,” she added.

New BFI study finds lack of career advice hindering sector

27 Jun 2022

A survey conducted by the British Film Institute and ERIC, a careers platform for young people, has found that a “significant” gap in careers guidance for young people aged 13 to 16 presents a major block for new entrants to join the sector.

Their report, based on interviews with over 500 young people and 250 careers advisors in schools across the UK, found that 93% of surveyed careers teams received requests for careers advice in the screen industries but felt “majorly ill-equipped” to provide accurate guidance.

The study found that 83% of young people weren’t aware of screen industries guidance being available at their schools and that 70% of careers teams thought it was very hard to get jobs in film and TV. 

Despite this, it found “hugely encouraging” levels of interest in the sector from surveyed young people.

Two thirds wanted to hear about careers in the screen industries while 93% of career teams reported receiving requests for guidance about careers in the sector.

Rapid growth in the industry is contributing to a shortage of crew, meaning stronger routes into the sector are needed to help meet demand, the BFI said.

“It is obvious that current approaches are not engaging or informing young people effectively and I look forward to finding new ways to help strengthen the provision of screen industries career guidance in schools through stronger links with careers professionals, schools and industry,” said Leigh Adams, Director of Education and Learning at the BFI.

Primary recommendations included in the report are to start as early as possible, be visible, provide up-to-date information and tools, use social media and build relationships with key touchpoints.

Government to invest over £100m in music education

27 Jun 2022

DCMS, the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care have jointly announced new music and sport initiatives to support children’s development. 

More than £100m will be used to increase opportunities across the country for children to study music and learn instruments.

Capital funding worth £25m will be given to schools to purchase an estimated 200,000 new musical instruments, including adapted instruments for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

Schools will also be asked to offer at least one hour of music teaching a week in the curriculum for key stages 1-3 as part of the launch of a new National Plan for Music Education, with £79 million made available every year until 2025 for the Music Hubs programme.

The plan also includes providing teachers and young people with guidance on how to progress a career in music.

“Music can transform lives – so it is vital that music education does not become the preserve of a privileged few and is available to everyone, regardless of their background,” said Chief Executive of UK Music Jamie Njoku-Goodwin.

“Continued investment in music education is vital if we want to unlock the huge creative potential of young people and level up opportunities across the country.”

Additional initiatives in the National Plan for Music Education include steps to further develop instrument and music teaching, a pilot to improve music progression in disadvantaged areas and the roll-out of an inclusion strategy in every music hub area.

Manchester School of Digital Arts opens to the public

15 Jun 2022

Manchester Metropolitan University’s new School of Digital Arts (SODA) opened for its first public viewing on Monday (13 June).

The £35m project, an investment from the university, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, has been developed to “address the urgent and growing demand for skilled workers in the region’s creative and digital industries”.

The school will welcome its first students in September, offering courses in animation, user experience (UX) design, photography, sound design, gaming, and artificial intelligence. Monday’s opening was the first opportunity for business leaders, policymakers and creative practitioners to view the new premises.

Great Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham says SODA will be integral in helpling Manchester be a digital city-region.

“We must future proof our digital talent pipeline, connecting education and industry and I’m pleased to see this happening at SODA.”

National Theatre expands £3.3m youth programme

15 Jun 2022

The National Theatre is expanding its Speak Up programme to work with some 140,000 young people from 55 secondary schools across the next three years.

The programme sees school pupils working with local artists and teachers to co-create artistic responses to issues that are important to them, with the aim of developing young people’s self-expression, wellbeing and personal skills.

The expansion follows a successful pilot phase that began last Autumn and is made possible after a £3.3m grant from the Mohn Westlake Foundation to deliver the project in areas of low arts engagement.

The National Theatre’s Artistic Director Rufus Norris says Speak Up is a crucial part of the theatres work in levelling up, “giving agency to young people nationwide whose voices often go unheard”.

“This innovative model will empower young people to share their views on current issues and put them at the heart of the creative process,” he added.

Theatre under threat

Roehampton protest
15 Jun 2022

With the latest cuts to university courses in the arts, Alan Read believes the future of theatre and performance in UK Higher Education is at stake. But numbers only tell half the story. 

Guildhall tops university league table

14 Jun 2022

Guildhall School of Music & Drama is the best place to study drama and music, according to this year’s Complete University Guide ranking.

The school rose one place from last year's rankings to take the top spot. Courtauld Institute of Art comes second in the arts, music and drama category, five places higher than last year, while last year’s top institution, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, drops to third.

The arts, drama and music league table, first published in 2016, features 13 specialist institutions offering too small a subject range to appear in the main table.

Universities - and specialist institutions - are independently graded across five measures: entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality, outcomes for graduate prospects and on track for graduate prospects. Each category receives a percentage score and an overall percentage score, with Guildhall receiving 100% in total this year.

Simon Emmett, Chief Executive Officer of Complete University Guide brand owners IDP Connect, says the list helps guide prospective students to make the right decisions for themselves.

“The tables’ independence from our other operations ensures that students, parents and advisors can trust the results and make informed choices based on them.”

Scottish theatre company launches programme for disabled people

09 Jun 2022

A Scottish theatre company has launched a new initiative to help disabled people get involved with performing arts.

Cutting Edge Theatre, based in Edinburgh, has received funding from the ScottishPower Foundation for its Inspire Disability Arts programme.

The theatre company said the programme will establish a clear pathway into theatre for those of primary school age all the way to professional training and employment.

Suzanne Lofthus, artistic director at Cutting Edge Theatre, said: “It’s about offering equal access to the performing arts. I was able to do drama at school and then join a youth theatre.

“People with disabilities should have the same access I had, whether they want to pursue a career in theatre or just take a class for fun.

“When I started to look to see where in Scotland learning-disabled people could train in performing arts in a supported environment with their peers, the answer is almost nowhere.

“This award from the ScottishPower Foundation means we can start to change that.”

BBC orchestras: broadcaster to explore alternative funding

The BBC Symphony Orchestra performing at the Barbican
08 Jun 2022

BBC to reduce licence fee funding for its performing groups as part of efforts to make £200m a year in savings.

Study recommends hour of arts each day for children

08 Jun 2022

Children could benefit from an average of 65 minutes dedicated to the arts each day, according to new research.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for the arts was built using insights from 504 primary school teachers surveyed across the UK and guidance from child psychologist Laverne Antrobus.

It is published by Sky Arts to coincide with the launch of Access All Arts week, a nationwide arts initiative for primary schools taking place until June 10.

The RDA breaks down to 17 minutes dedicated to literature, 14 minutes to art, 12 minutes to music, 11 minutes to drama and 11 minutes to dancing.

Antrobus says the RSA for arts is a "brilliant way to put a simple framework around the importance it holds for children and their development".

"Having the opportunity to paint, to dance, to write poetry has huge wellbeing benefits for a young child, helping them to develop self-confidence and a positive self image.

"Access to the arts helps to build creative skills which are likely to be in demand later in life – for example, problem-solving and imagination."

Welsh language youth theatre to relaunch

08 Jun 2022

The Welsh Government is investing £1m over the next five years to support the relaunch of the Urdd’s national youth theatre.

Urdd is Wales’ largest national youth organisation and its theatre, Cwmni Theatr Ieuenctid Cymru, was set up in the 1970s to provide 14 to 19-year olds creative opportunities in Welsh.

The theatre ceased to operate in 2019 but will return to coincide with Urdd’s centenary celebrations this year.

The Urdd Eisteddfod, a national music competition and festival, also returns this year after a three-year hiatus, with free entry after the Welsh Government provided ringfenced funding.

Director of the Urdd Eisteddfod and the Arts Siân Eirian said the youth theatre has offered unique opportunities to thousands of Wales’ youngsters interested in theatre.

“We see the need today more than ever, due to the impact of Covid, to provide equal opportunities and invaluable training for our young adults who want to pursue a career in the arts, and the re-establishment of our youth theatre will offer that at a national level.”
 

Union calls for end to ‘dangerous assault’ on arts degrees

06 Jun 2022

The Government’s “reductive agenda” is encouraging universities to launch a “dangerous assault” on arts and humanities subjects, University and College Union (UCU) General Secretary Jo Grady has said.

In a letter addressed to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, Grady called for the planned 50% reduction in funding for creative degrees to be stopped.

Assaults on “low value” courses and plans to restrict access to courses that do not meet “arbitrary graduate outcomes data” must also end, she added.

The letter follows recent losses of creative degrees at De Montfort University, Roehampton University and Wolverhampton University.

“If [these] proposals are repeated, as our union fears they may be, the future of the arts and humanities could be under grave threat, resulting in disaster in vital areas including the public sector and the creative industries, as well as impoverishing our culture,” the letter reads.

Drama education should not just be for the elite

26 May 2022

Drama and theatre education are curriculum entitlements for all children and young people, not just the privileged few, says Geoff Readman.

Plymouth College of Art gains university status

25 May 2022

Plymouth College of Art has been approved for university status and changed its name to Arts University Plymouth.

The institution, founded in 1856, has been granted full university status following approval by the Privy Council. It becomes the third university in the city in addition to University of Plymouth and Plymouth Marjon University.

"This exciting news recognises the quality of the work already taking place," said Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Arts University Plymouth.

"Achieving full university status is just our latest evolution in over 160 years of leading specialist arts education in the South West and internationally.

"Their tireless work has enabled us to demonstrate the value of arts education to students, to the UK economy and to a world that needs creatives now more than ever."

"Our vision for Arts University Plymouth is a new kind of art school for the 21st century, preparing graduates who are uniquely placed to provide creative solutions to the complex problems faced by modern society."

 

 

Royal College of Art opens new £135m campus

23 May 2022

A major new campus for the Royal College of Art (RCA), featuring a space for public exhibitions, has opened.

The £135m development accommodates four storeys of studios and workshops for sculpture, contemporary art, video and film, and design.

Meanwhile, a double-height 350sq m space space known as The Hanger has large doors at either end to enable the installation of heavy, large or complex works of art, and will be used for public exhibitions. 

A similar but smaller room provides research, testing and assembly space for sculpture and robotics projects.

To coincide with the launch, the RCA has announced a new five-year strategy for 2022–27 which includes plans to double the percentage of Black British and People of Colour students and researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Performance studies threatened by proposed university cuts

19 May 2022

Announcements of course closures and job losses at universities prompt concerns of 'existential threat' to theatre and performance studies.

Government to end funding for Creative Careers

Discover! Creative Careers Week 2019 image © Tyneside Cinema Newcastle[62]
18 May 2022

DCMS is to provide £947,000 for Creative Careers Programme to continue until March 2025, but does not intend to fund it beyond then.

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