UCAS Conservatoires received record number of applications in 2014

by Katy Wright

UCAS Conservatoires received a record 7,985 applications in 2014, with around two-thirds of applicants applying to undergraduate courses. UCAS Conservatoires manages applications to performance-based music, dance and drama courses at eight conservatoires in the UK. All offer music, with two also offering dance and two offering drama.

According to a report from the organisation, the number of students who received places within the conservatoire sector increased by 10% between 2013 and 2014.

Music courses had the highest number of applicants and acceptances, but undergraduate drama and dance courses were particularly competitive. Only one in 20 applicants to drama courses were accepted, while one in 12 applicants to dance courses through UCAS Conservatoires received a place.

Young people from the least advantaged areas of the UK are more likely to apply and to enter conservatoires compared to four years ago; however, the most advantaged 20% of young people in the UK remain around six times more likely to enter courses at conservatoires than the least advantaged group.

Hilary Boulding, chair of Conservatoires UK, said: ‘The cultural and creative industries are the fastest growing industry in the UK, a trend mirrored by the 10% increase in acceptances to conservatoires announced today. These professions look to the UK’s conservatoires to provide them with a regular flow of talent.  This is a field in which the UK excels and our graduates continue to succeed at the forefront of a global industry.’

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.

VAULT Festival announces ‘mini’ festival for under 11s

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Pirates of the Carabina will perform extracts of their show Flown as part of the inaugural Mini VAULT (Credit: Cryingoutloud.org)

This year’s VAULT Festival – opening on 28 January for six weeks of performances, events and workshops at Leake Street’s tunnels in London Waterloo – will include an inaugural Mini VAULT festival for under 11s, with three weekends of underground shows, events and free activities for families.

Highlights of Mini VAULT will include Comedy Club 4 Kids, in which stand-up comedians and sketch artists perform their work for children aged six and above and their families; British and international circus performers Pirates of the Carabina performing excerpts of their show Flown; all-female performance company Figs in Wigs bring their performance Show Off, showcasing their mix of theatre, comedy and dance for children aged eight+; and Greenlight Theatre will present their interactive children’s show for ages three and up, Albee Vector the Sound Collector. As well as performances, Mini VAULT will also run a range of workshops.

Show Off Christa Holka Low Res

All-female performance group Figs with Wigs bring Show Off to 2015’s Mini VAULT (Credit: Christa Holka)

The main VAULT Festival programme has plenty to offer adult attendees. IdeasTap will host a selection of their free spa sessions each Saturday of the festival. The first sessions taking place on 31 January will be ‘A Beginners Guide to Writing For The Stage’ and ‘How To Take A Show To Edinburgh’; on 7 February, Snapdragon Productions will offer their advice on ‘Setting Up a Theatre Company’, and the Rhum and Clay Theatre Company will run sessions on ‘Creating Theatre Without Words’ (28 February) and ‘An Introduction to Le Coq’ (21 February). All of the IdeasTap sessions are free, but booking is required as spaces are limited.

VAULT has a range of workshops on offer for 2015’s festival, including live performance arts and entertainment company Artful Badger’s session on ‘wall-running’,  Scaffold State Theatre Company’s guide to  adapting an ancient drama into a modern text in 30 minutes, and a workshop in improvising and devising for performance led by Needless Alley Collective.

Also taking place throughout the festival will be discussions as part of ‘VAULT Panels: Join the debate’. On 8 February, ‘The Big Arts Debate’ will take place, looking at ‘Cultural policy and the future for UK theatre and the arts’. Other highlights in the Panels programme include ‘Elephant in the room: What is the social responsibility of The Arts?’ (20 February) and ‘The Female Force Forum: The Future for Women in Theatre’ (7 March). The Panels discussions are free to attend, but require booking.

VAULT Festival runs from 28 January to 8 March; Mini VAULT runs on the weekends of 7–8 February, 21–22 February and 7–8 March. For more details, visit www.vaultfestival.com.

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New Year Honours for British actresses

Dame Angela Lansbury: the actress is recognised in 2014's New Year Honours (Credit: Featureflash)

Dame Angela Lansbury: the actress is recognised in 2014’s New Year Honours (Credit: Featureflash)

The Queen’s 2014 New Year Honours list has recognised and celebrated some of the country’s leading acting and theatre talent: theatre, film and television actress Angela Lansbury is to become a Dame of the British Empire for her services to drama, charitable work and philanthropy. Bafta and Olivier Award winner Penelope Keith will receive the same honour for her services to the arts and charity, as will choreographer Gillian Lynne, director of more than 50 shows in the West End, on Broadway and on tour, for her services to dance and musical theatre.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, a collaborator of Gillian Lynne’s on productions such as Cats and Phantom of the Opera, said that he was ‘thrilled that the grand lady of British musical theatre has got the recognition she deserves.’

Accolades for women in the arts continues: Canadian-born stage and television actress Lynda Bellingham is to be awarded an OBE for voluntary service to charitable giving in the UK. Actress and writer of Gavin and Stacey, Ruth Jones, will receive an MBE.

There were also a few notable male honours in this year’s selection, including CBEs for television actor Michael Crawford and former Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cooke, as well as a knighthood for Michael Codron, the owner of London’s Aldwych Theatre, for his services to theatre.

New part-time performing arts school launched by actress in London

360 ArtsActress Simone Lahbib has launched a new part-time performing arts school in North Finchley, London, offering children of ages three and up classes in dance, acting, singing and musical theatre.

360 Arts opened on 8 September, with Lahbib as principal. She has described 360 Arts as, ‘a vibrant, exciting environment, boasting some of London’s best teachers for singing, dancing and acting.’

She also spoke of the resources available: ‘Lovely, bright studios, regular visits from industry professionals, and an affiliated agency, Daisy and Dukes.’

As well as performing arts classes, 360 Arts will also host workshops from industry professionals in production areas such as stage management, script writing and producing.

Details of the school and workshops on offer are available at www.360arts.co.uk.

LICENSING LEGISLATION FOR THEATRE IN SCHOOLS IS RELAXED

Changes to government legislation, to be implemented this year, will mean schools no longer require most forms of entertainment licensing.

The amendments to the 2003 Licensing Act will allow schools, and other venues such as community centres and church halls, to host performances by local groups or visiting touring companies without applying for a license.

Legislation currently states that theatre, dance and live music performances are ‘regulated entertainment’ which requires organisers to apply for a temporary notice ten days prior an event, or apply for an entertainment licence, costing around £200.

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Olivier awards search for general public judge

The judges of the Olivier awards will be accompanied by a new addition in 2013. Joining the three professionals on the panel, will be a member of the public.

The Society of London Theatre and The Radio Times are looking for a member of the general public to judge either the main theatre awards, the affliliate awards for smaller scale theatres, or the awards for Opera or Dance.

To apply, entrants must list the plays they have seen in 2011 and write a 150 words review of a production. The deadline for applicants is Tuesday 10 January 2012. Those who are successful will be invited to an interview in Covent Garden in January.

The lucky winner will have to attend all productions which are eligible for the category they will be judging – a mammoth year long task that begins in February 2012. The judge and a guest will also be invited to the awards ceremony in London.

To apply for your chance to be a judge visit www.olivierawards.com/about/panellists