Miliband promises arts at the heart of Labour government

Ed Miliband has said that Labour will ‘put policy for arts and culture and creativity at the heart of the Labour government’s mission’ if the party gains power in this year’s general election. The Labour leader was speaking at the Creative Industries Federation at Battersea Arts Centre.

‘Britain will be a prouder, richer, stronger country when we give everybody the opportunity to develop their creativity, expand their horizons, enhance their talents and make a life for themselves in the arts and culture: old and young, rich and poor, north and south.’

Despite his backing of arts and culture, Miliband would not confirm that there would be no further cuts to the arts, saying: ‘I can’t make promises about what funding’s going to look like in the future.’

Ed Miliband speaking at the Creative Industries Federation at Battersea Arts Centre (Credit: Ian Watts)

Ed Miliband speaking at the Creative Industries Federation at Battersea Arts Centre (Credit: Ian Watts)

In his speech, Miliband also quoted from the Warwick Commission’s report, and said: ‘If we care about the opportunities for the young, the findings of the Warwick Commission should worry us all.

‘The next Labour government’s mission is to guarantee every young person, from whatever background, access to the arts and culture: a universal entitlement to a creative education for every child.’

In Miliband’s speech, Labour backed the Warwick Commission’s recommendation that schools will only be able to receive an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted if they offer creative subjects and cultural opportunities within a broad and balanced curriculum.

Other policies announced during the speech included: strengthening creative education in schools by encouraging afterschool clubs to offer music, drama, dance, art, sport or other creative activities; building better career pathways into the arts and creative industries by increasing the number of apprenticeships; and widening free access to museums and galleries.

The MTA to relocate to Tottenham

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The MTA’s new home: The Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham

The MTA has announced that from July 2015 it will be taking up residence at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham. From 2016, four of the college’s six shows a year will be performed in BGAC’s state-of-the-art theatre, with the showcase and original musical remaining at the Bridewell Theatre.

Annemarie Lewis Thomas, MTA’s principal and founder says: ‘We were very flattered to be approached by BGAC in the first place, then the more I found out about the programme over there, the synergy between the two organisations was rather compelling. Having spent our Christmas over there, and having had the most wonderful welcome from all the staff, we are really looking forward to the move and the opportunities that our new space will provide us with.’

The MTA’s Christmas pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, was performed to over 2,000 local residents, half of which were local children, as part of the college’s ‘pay what you can’ scheme.

Sarah Ebanja, chair of the arts centre, says: ‘The BGAC team are delighted that The MTA will make our arts centre complex their home. The MTA will bring an added vibrancy to what is already an artistic and creative hub. Their work will inspire and will enable Tottenham’s local residents, and young people in particular, to engage meaningfully with the performance arts.’

Annemarie Lewis Thomas features as TD spring 2’s opinion columnist. Read her thoughts on accreditation in the issue, out now.

Professional development day in Bristol – 1 March

The Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama are running a professional development day on ‘Drama in the Classroom’ in Bristol on 1 March, led by Philip Kingsley Jones from UWE.

Full details of the day can be found below. For more information on the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama, read TD‘s article in our current spring 2 issue.

STSD March

Number of drama and arts teachers falling in state schools

A report into the value of culture to contemporary British society has revealed that since 2010, there has been an 8% decline in the number of state school drama teachers, and a 4% decline in hours taught for the subject.

The year-long project, led by the University of Warwick, has resulted in the publication of Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth. Other key findings in the report include:

  • Alongside the decline of specialist drama teachers in England’s state schools, other creative subjects have also been affected: the number of design and technology teachers, as well as the number of hours taught, has fallen by 11%; and art and design teachers have reduced by 4% with a decline of 6% in teaching hours.
  • Young people from low-income families are least likely to engage with and appreciate the arts as part of the school curriculum or their home life; and least likely to be employed in the cultural and creative industries.
  • The costs related to engaging in extracurricular activities mean low-income families are often excluded from creative and cultural opportunities: 22% of parents in the higher social groups pay £500+ a year on extracurricular activities compared to 10% of parents in middle and lower groups.
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The report led by Warwick University is the result of a year-long project

The report makes a number of recommendations, several of which are aimed at Ofsted: the organisation should not award schools with an ‘outstanding’ status without evidence of a strong cultural and creative education, and should ensure – alongside the Department for Education – that young people up to the age of 16 receive a cultural education in order to encourage life-long engagement with the arts. They also recommend that Ofsted encourage Arts Council England’s aim to have 50% of schools achieving an ArtsMark award.

Other recommendations made include ensuring there is adequate careers advice available to those interested in pursuing a career in the cultural and creative industries, and the creation, by the government, of an arts and culture pupil premium fund and a national creative apprenticeship ascheme.

Commission member and Warwick education researcher Professor Jonothan Neelands said: ‘We are concerned that the educational system as a whole is not focusing on the future needs of the cultural and creative industries and the broader needs of a creative and successful UK. This needs to be addressed across our schools. However, we are particularly concerned that children born into low-income families with low levels of educational qualifications are the least likely to experience culture as part of their home education.

‘Without educational intervention we are in danger of allowing a two-tier creative and cultural ecosystem in which the most advantaged in social and economic terms are also the most advantaged in benefitting economically, socially and personally from the full range of experiences and value in that prevailing system.’

Vikki Heywood, chair of the Warwick commission report, said: ‘The key message from this report is that the government and the cultural and creative industries need to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life. There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent this from being a universal human right. This is bad for business and bad for society.’

Read the full report at www2.warwick.ac.uk/research/warwickcommission/futureculture/finalreport

Miss Saigon revival sweeps WhatsOnStage Awards

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Miss Saigon‘s revival has been awarded nine prizes at the WhatsOnStage Awards (credit: AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Following its return to the West End 25 years after its London premiere, Miss Saigon came away as the big winner of the WhatsOnStage Awards, sweeping the board with nine prizes. The cast of the Sir Cameron Mackintosh hit stole the category for acting in a musical with awards for best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.

Another of the evening’s top winners was also a revival: Donmar Warehouse’s Coriolanus, which scored a hat-trick with best play revival, best lighting design from Mark Henderson and best supporting actor in a play for Mark Gatiss.

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Billie Piper was named best actress in a play for the National Theatre’s Great Britain (Credit: Johan Persson)

Coriolanus lead Tom Hiddleston was beaten to the prize for best actor in a play by David Tennant for his performance in the RSC’s Richard II. Tennant’s former Doctor Who co-star Billie Piper fought off tough competition from Gillian Anderson and Imelda Staunton to be named best actress in a play for her turn as Paige Britain in the National Theatre’s phone-hacking play Great Britain.

West End newcomers Shakespeare in Love and Memphis the Musical were both recognised presented with best new play and best new musical respectively.

The 15th annual WhatsOnStage Awards, voted for by the public, took place at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The full list of WhatsOnStage Award winners can be found below:

Best actor in a play: David Tennant, Richard II
Best actress in a play: Billie Piper, Great Britain
Best actor in a musical: Jon Jon Briones, Miss Saigon
Best actress in a musical: Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon
Best supporting actor in a musical: Kwang-Ho Hong, Miss Saigon
Best supporting actress in a musical: Rachelle Ann Go, Miss Saigon
Best musical revival: Miss Saigon
Best direction: Laurence Connor, Miss Saigon
Best choreography: Bob Avian & Geoffrey Garratt, Miss Saigon
Best set design: Totie Driver & Matt Kinley, Miss Saigon
Best supporting actor in a play: Mark Gatiss, Coriolanus
Best play revival: Coriolanus
Best lighting design: Mark Henderson, Coriolanus
Best supporting actress in a play: Vanessa Kirby, A Streetcar Named Desire
Best new play: Shakespeare in Love
Best new musical: Memphis the Musical
Best off-West End production: Sweeney Todd, Twickenham Theatre
Best regional production: Oliver!, Sheffield Crucible
Best takeover in a role: Kerry Ellis, Wicked
Best West End Show: Miss Saigon

www.whatsonstage.com

TRH Masterclass Trust receives £17,258 donation

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Cheque presentation at The Waldorf Hilton London

The Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust has received a donation of £17,258 from The Waldorf Hilton London and the Hilton in the Community Foundation. The donation was presented at The Waldorf Hilton London on 2 February. In attendance was TRH’s chairman and Masterclass founder Arnold M. Crook who was joined by actress and Masterclass patron Elaine Page, who accepted the donation on behalf of the trust.

Paige said: ‘I’ve given three Masterclasses, with some fantastic young people from a wide range of backgrounds, over the past few years and each one has been an enjoyable and fun afternoon. Throughout my career I’ve learnt many things which I am very happy to pass on to the next generation. Even if just one piece of advice makes an impact on just one person, then it’s been worthwhile. Which is why I support the Masterclass Charity as it can make such a difference by inspiring and empowering the talent of the future.’

The Masterclass initiative, founded by Crook 15 years ago, aims to give theatre training opportunities to 14–30 year olds, as well as to provide careers advice and theatrical skills development.

Blayne George, TRH Masterclass Trust’s programme director, added: ‘It is only through the very generous support of organisations like the Waldorf Hilton London and the Hilton in the Community Foundation that Masterclass is able to continue to give young people free access to the professional world of theatre; inspiring and encouraging them to have a voice.’

Green room: Should you ignore stage directions?

In our Spring 2 issue of Teaching Drama (out now!), we’re asking our Green room panellists …

 

We talk to actors and playwrights to get their points of view:

Modern stage directions are too often evidence of a failure of the text sufficiently to direct the actor

It is easy to misread stage directions and think of them as simply a “to-do” list for the design and stage management team

Vote in our poll and voice your opinion. Read the views of our panellists in Spring 2 2014-15.

PERFORM TICKET GIVEAWAY!

At next month’s PERFORM 2015, Teaching Drama is hosting a workshop series for teachers on Saturday 14th featuring sessions with White Light, exam board representatives and Frantic Assembly.TD is giving away 25 one-day entry tickets to PERFORM for FREE! Each ticket admits two people.

The ticket, which costs £9 on the day, will give you access to the PERFORM exhibition, as well as the chance to attend a whole range of workshops and seminars, including TD’s workshop series. (It’s recommended that workshops are booked in advance; the entry fee for the TD workshops is £3 when pre-booked, and £4 on the day).

To enter our prize draw for a PERFORM one-day entry ticket, email teaching.drama@rhinegold.co.uk with the subject line ‘PERFORM 2015 – ticket giveaway’.

Good luck!

Perform

 

Premiere of short political plays series by acclaimed playwrights

A new series of short plays inspired by the tension between art and politics are to be performed in London this month. Offstage Theatre, in association with Theatre Uncut, commissioned 11 playwrights for ‘Walking the Tightrope: The Tension between Art and Politics’ to write in response to issues of censorship and boycott in the arts.

The playwrights taking part in the project include Caryl Churchill, Ryan Craig, April De Angelis, Tim Fountain, Hannah Khalil, Neil LaBute, Hattie Naylor, Julia Pascal, Evan Placey, Mark Ravenhill and Sarah Solemani.

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Actors Melissa Woodbridge and Syrus Lowe rehearse for ‘Walking the Tightrope’ (Credit: Grace Gummer)

Participating writer in the project Neil LaBute said: ‘I’m hugely excited to be a part of Walking the Tightrope – a collection of short plays by a group of terrific writers about the freedom of expression. I feel really lucky to be included as this theme has always been an important one in my own work and the form that is being used – the five-minute play – is a wonderful and difficult one to master.

‘If you care about humanity, then you care about the arts. If you care about the arts, you need to support this kind of work. In my mind, there is nothing that can’t be said or seen on the stage. I think Walking the Tightrope intends to prove that many times over, five minutes at a time.’

The resultant plays will be performed from 26–31 January at Theatre Delicatessen in Farringdon, London. Each performance will be followed by a post-show discussion featuring panels comprising political pundits, journalists, artistic directors, campaigners, artists and academics.

For more information on ‘Walking the Tightrope’, visit www.offstage.org.uk/shows/Walking-the-Tightrope.html. To book tickets, visit http://walkingthetightrope.brownpapertickets.com.

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Theatre figures recognised in 2015 New Year honours list

Kristin Scott Thomas, pictured Electra (Credit: Johan Persson)

The 2015 New Year honours list has recognised a range of individuals holding performing, artistic and administrative roles in the theatre and stage sector.

Actress Kristin Scott Thomas, who starred in The Old Vic’s Electra last year, has been made a dame for her services to drama. Stage and screen actors Sheridan Smith and James Corden have both been awarded OBEs. Actress and writer Meera Syal, most recently seen performing in the National Theatre’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, has been awarded a CBE for services to drama and literature.

Paul Kerryson (Credit: Paul Adams)

Leicester Theatre Trust’s Paul Kerryson (Credit: Paul Adams)

Artistic director of Leicester Theatre Trust Paul Kerryson, also outgoing artistic director of Leicester’s Curve, has been awarded an MBE for his services to theatre in Leicester. Also being honoured with an MBE is Graeme Phillips, Liverpool’s Unity Theatre artistic director who is stepping down from the role after more than three decades; he is being recognised for his services to the arts in Liverpool. Founder and artistic director of Northern Broadsides Barrie Rutter has also been awarded for his services to drama with an OBE.

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Stage designer Es Devlin (Credit: David Ellis)

Design talents of the theatre world have also been acknowledged in this year’s honours: stage designer Es Devlin – whose recent work includes I Can’t Sing! at the Palladium, American Psycho at the Almeida Theatre and the 2014 Olivier Award-winning Chimerica – has been presented with an OBE for services to stage and set design; and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s associate designer Tom Piper has been awarded an MBE for services to theatre, and as well as for services to First World War commemorations, for his part in the poppies installation at the Tower of London.

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Subscribe to Teaching Drama as a print or digital edition now for more news, features and information. Single issues are also available in print and digital from just £2.49.