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.
Warwick

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

New initiative seeks to develop contemporary theatre output from south-east England

A new three-year initiative called greenhouse has been launched to develop contemporary theatre and its audiences in the south east and east of England. Over three years, greenhouse will invest £420,000 into 30 projects.

The scheme, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England, is being led by house, an organisation which curates and underwrites a programme of around 20 contemporary theatre productions each year for their network more than 125 venues.

This year has seen greenhouse seed-fund ten projects with over £50,000, awarding grants between £3,000 and £8,000 to projects. The ideas put forward for investment had to involve a partnership between a theatre-maker and a venue. The projects chosen for investment were selected by a panel of theatre industry professionals.

The first ten greenhouse projects include: Root Theatre bringing an emerging writer to her home town Gillingham to explore ideas for a new play about the town with the support of new venue LV21; South Street in Reading working with artists based in the town to create a piece for the recently decommissioned Reading Prison; and Take the Space is going to Norden Farm Arts Centre in Maidenhead to work with a boxing club and local Quakers for ideas to develop their new play, White Feather Boxer.

Richard Kingdom, greenhouse project manager says: ‘There’s no shortage of theatre being made, venues to present it or people to see it, and yet theatre-makers struggle to get bookings, programmers tell us that they can’t find suitable work and attracting an audience is everyone’s biggest challenge.

‘This is where greenhouse begins. We are seed-funding new pieces of theatre that respond to the ambitions of the theatre-makers as well as the venues and connect with people that they might ultimately hope to speak to as an audience.’

Theatre casualties in Arts Council national portfolio announcement

Richard Frame (Hermia), Thomas Padden (Theseus) & Sam Swainsbury (Demetrius)

Propeller in performance: the theatre company’s future is thrown into doubt without Art Council funding

Arts Council England (ACE) has revealed the organisations who will, and will not, be part of their national portfolio for 2015–18. All-male Shakespeare company Propeller, Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond and radical touring company Red Ladder have not made ACE’s portfolio list, resulting in loss of funding.

Propeller were told by the ACE, ‘’We decided that, taking into account the quality and level of your artform provision available nationally, we preferred other applications.’ Responding to ACE’s comments, the company and Propeller’s director Edward Hall said: ‘Whilst a lack of commitment from ACE to high-quality touring theatre on a financial basis is perhaps understandable, Propeller’s national reach and quality of work cannot be called into question as our track record amply demonstrates. I am sorry that this decision will prevent us from continuing to pursue our national touring programme which has delighted so many thousands of people and which will prevent our company from pursuing its commitment to delivering affordable, high-quality drama in the regions.’

News of Orange Tree Theatre’s funding loss from the ACE came as the new artistic director Paul Miller began his first day in the role. He told BBC news: ‘I think the big, national contradictory pressures that are on the Arts Council were just so great that something had to give – and on that occasion it was us.

‘Once upon a time, the Orange Tree was a fledgling start-up company that had its first Arts Council funding. For new younger companies to get into the system, it means that existing organisations cannot simply take for granted that they will continue to be regularly funded. There are still many ways in which we can continue to take wonderful theatre in our lovely space. We just have to find a financially different way of doing it.’

Other organisations face smaller cuts: The Barbican will lose 18% of funding, while The Southbank Centre, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company will each receive a 3.6% reduction.

Some theatre organisations enjoyed a boost, with increases in funding for Unicorn of 28% and Hull Truck of 46%; welcome news for Hull Truck following the ACE’s assessment of the theatre company earlier this year as facing ‘immediate and serious financial risk’.

This year saw a 2% rise in the allocation of funding to regional companies, with 47% dedicated to organisations in London and 53% to those outside of the capital.

ACE chair Sir Peter Bazalgette said of the portfolio announcements: ‘We are in the premier league of creative nations and this portfolio will keep us on top in an era of tight funding. We can delight in our arts organisations and museums for the sheer inspiration they bring to our daily lives as well as their contribution to the creative sector. I’m proud that we’ve been able to deliver such a strong and well balanced portfolio.

‘With 46 new entrants to the national portfolio, with increased funding for grants for the arts, and with creative people and places being maintained at its current level over the next period, this settlement represents a commitment by Arts Council England to new talent and building England’s arts and culture capacity all over the country. When funding is declining you have to set priorities – this we have done.’

Arts Council chairman concerned with arts education gap

Art Council England's chairman Peter Bazalgette

Art Council England’s chairman Peter Bazalgette

This week has seen Arts Council England’s chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette address the gap in arts education between students educated in private schools and state schools.

Bazalgette, speaking to The Stage, raised his concerns about the marginalisation of the arts for state school students: ‘I can’t see why 7% to 9% of the population who go to private school should have a fantastic and privileged education in the performing arts, and why it’s being marginalised in state schools. When you see BAFTA [awards] coming around and three of the actors nominated are from Eton you think, great for them, they are wonderful actors, but something odd is going on here. Why is that happening?’

Eton College has produced actors such as Damian Lewis, Dominic West, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne and Harry Lloyd. Other privately educated actors include Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Bonneville, and Rory Kinnear.

Bazalgette suggested that one of the possible routes to remedy the issue would be through Ofsted: ‘When it is inspecting schools, [Ofsted] should not be allowed to give any school an “excellent” rating unless it has a very good offering in performing and visual arts for its pupils.’

Speaking at Sheffield’s international documentary festival Doc/Fest, Bazalgette added to his comments: ‘Seven per cent of the population go to private schools, and in those private schools they get an absolutely, crackingly good education in the performing and visual arts. Ninety-three per cent don’t go to those private schools and, in some state schools, people get a wonderful education in visual and performing arts as well. But in quite a lot of them they don’t.

‘Visual performing arts have been marginalised in some areas in the curriculum as the curriculum becomes more instrumentalist and focused on what’s known as the Stem agenda – science, technology, engineering and maths. If there is one message, we say Steam, not Stem – put the “a” for arts in.’

ACE faces further cuts of over £11million

George Osborne's Autumn Statement leaves ACE reeling from further cuts

George Osborne’s Autumn Statement leaves ACE reeling from further cuts

Arts Council England (ACE) is to receive cuts of £11.6million by 2015, additional to the 30% cut to the organisation’s budget in 2010.

Chancellor George Osborne revealed in his Autumn Statement that cuts of 3% would be made to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by 2015. DCMS has passed on the cuts to ACE:  2013/14 will see the council’s budget squeezed by £3.9 million and by £7.7million in 2014/15.

Due to the administrative cuts already faced by ACE, the organisation claims that it cannot downsize its services and team any further, meaning cuts have been passed onto the 696 bodies and National Portfolio funded by ACE.

Arts Council chief executive Alan Davey explained: ‘The government’s intention seems to have been that Whitehall departments absorb any cuts themselves from efficiencies but since the DCMS has already given itself a 50% administration cut – which was also applied to the Arts Council – the department’s latest cuts have been passed straight on to the bodies it funds.

‘We must now look closely at the figures and decide how we will pass these cuts on. Some organisations are also having to deal with local authority cuts and so the situation is extremely challenging.’

The cuts seem to have taken immediate effect, with organisations such as the British Museum, National Gallery and the V&A already having received letters confirming a reduction in their funding from the ACE. Further cuts are being anticipated after George Osborne announced a spending review covering the same spending period and beyond.

Internship fund launched by Arts Council

Arts Council England (ACE) has launched a new initiative to support unpaid internships in the arts sector. The Creative Employment Programme will see funding of up to £15million provide financial support to unemployed 16-25 year olds seeking work experience in the arts sector.

This news follows ACE’s discussions with arts organisations concerning their guidelines for hiring unpaid interns. The Old Vic and Unicorn Theatre both suspended their internship schemes following consultations with ACE.

ACE’s Creative Employment Programme outline claims that the money will help fund ‘6,500 new apprenticeships and paid internships across the arts and cultural sector.’ The fund will be paid out to organisations who apply to help subsidise the cost of recruiting interns. The programme is scheduled to start in early 2013, and will run until March 2015.

Executive director Andrea Stark described the scheme as a ‘fantastic and vital development for young people interested in working in arts and culture.’

Stark went on to say: ‘If young people cannot gain entry into the sector workforce we risk losing a generation of talent, which would potentially have an adverse impact on the art that is produced, distributed and attended by the wider population. This programme gives young people the opportunity to gain skills and experience that potential employers will value, removes the barrier of lack of paid work experience, and helps boost the start of their career in the sector’

For more information, visit www.artscouncil.org.uk/news/arts-council-news/creative-employment-programme-launch.

Council permit funding for Plymouth Theatre Royal redevelopment project

Plans for a £7million redevelopment of Plymouth Theatre Royal have been given the go ahead. Plymouth City Council approved a £2million three-year funding guarantee. The Theatre Royal has applied for a £5million grant from Arts Council England (ACE) to help fund the changes. The theatre itself will also have to raise £2million for the project to get underway.

Plymouth Theatre Royal is ranked by ACE, after the RSC and the National Theatre, as having the third highest economic impact out of the 541 theatres in the UK. The theatre is considered to be the largest and best-attended regional theatre in the country.

The redevelopment project will provide the Theatre Royal with a new box office, shop and café, as well as improving energy efficiency by 40% by re-cladding the theatre’s front. The upgrade will also add a new studio space for the theatre’s outreach programme, working with young people and the local community.

Chief executive Adrian Vinken said: ‘Our aim is to modernise and make major improvements to the Theatre Royal to ensure it remains Plymouth’s cultural centre of excellence for the next 50 years. Our ability to realise this vision will depend on whether we are able to raise the necessary scale of funding.’

For more information, visit www.theatreroyal.com.

New arts council head and culture secretary appointed in reshuffle

Sir Peter Bazalgette has been named as the new chairmen of Arts Council England, succeeding Dame Liz Forgan. The press had been speculating about Bazalgette’s possible appointment following the government’s decision to not re-appoint Forgan earlier this year.

Bazalgette is widely known for the creation of globally successful television format Big Brother. He serves as chair at ENO, acts as president for the Royal Television Society and is a non-executive director of the department of culture, media and sport.

He said of his new role, due to begin in the new year: ‘2013 will be an excellent time to join the arts council. Sustaining our vigorous arts and cultural sector is admittedly a challenge, but one I greatly look forward to.’

Arts Council chief executive, Alan Davey was clearly pleased with the decision, describing it as ‘an excellent appointment’. He went on to describe Bazalgette as, ‘a great philanthropic contributor to the arts; an enthusiast who has done amazing work with English National Opera and has helped the arts council over the years to develop our digital thinking. We look forward to working with him.’

Bazalgette’s appointment was one of the last decisions to be made by Jeremy Hunt, with the prime minister’s approval, in his role as culture secretary. David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle involved the appointment of Maria Miller to succeed Jeremy Hunt as secretary of state for culture, media and sport. The MP for Basingstoke and former advertising executive will also undertake a role as minister for women and equalities. The Guardian described Miller as ‘a relative unknown for culture professionals’. Her new position will be Miller’s first cabinet role.

Unicorn Theatre suspends internships

Unicorn Theatre, who specialise in performance and education programmes for children, has suspended its internship programme after consulting with Arts Council England (ACE). The position of communications intern had previously been listed on their website as a ‘voluntary placement’. The advert said the role would last between three to six months, with volunteers being asked to work up to five days a week, and expenses of up to £200 a month offered.

ACE advises that if interns are of ‘worker status’: taking part in substantial tasks and activities, they should be paid the minimum wage. After discussions between Unicorn and ACE, the theatre decided to suspend all internships.

A spokesman for Unicorn Theatre told The Stage: ‘Following further discussions, the theatre is now suspending this scheme in advance of the Arts Council’s new grant programme, to create paid opportunities for young people looking to start a career in the cultural sector.’

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Artsmark announce successful applicants to relaunched scheme

Arts Council England (ACE) have announced the first round of successful schools and educational establishments to receive Artsmark status since it’s relaunch in September 2011. There were over 1500 successful applications made to the ACE programme.

The announcement comes as the manager behind Arts Award, Trinity College London, has confirmed that they will act as the national provider for Artsmark scheme. By linking the two programmes, it is hoped by the ACE that it, ‘will result in a more joined up approach to delivering cultural education for children and young people, both in and out of school.’

The Artsmark programme, which runs throughout England, has expanded to incorporate more educational facilities including further education colleges, pupil referral units and youth justice settings. Artsmark have also changed their awarding system, now offering two distinctions – ‘Artsmark’ status and ‘Artsmark Gold’ status.

ACE chief executive Alan Davey said: ‘The Arts Council has a long history of involvement in arts education and it’s great to see schemes like Artsmark becoming an integral part of more and more school curriculums.’

‘We took some time last year to review Artsmark and listen to what schools and our other partners had to say about the programme and how we can improve it. The high number of applications from schools and other educational settings clearly illustrates how well received these changes were. This relaunched Artsmark programme will play a significant role in achieving our ambition of every young person in the country experiencing what the arts have to offer.’

For more information visit www.artsmark.org.uk