TAITMAIL     The Fed and the parlours of power

TAITMAIL The Fed and the parlours of power

The Creative Industries Federation is in a spin, how vertiginous a spin remains to be seen.

On the other musical hand

On the other musical hand

All standard musical instruments require ten active fingers to be able to play them and up to 30,000 children in UK schools are deprived access to music-making as a result. But OHMI is opening up musical expression to them, Simon Tait reports

First woman MP’s portrait presented to Commons

First woman MP’s portrait presented to Commons

This portrait of Constance Countess Markievicz, the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons in 1918, was last night presented to the House on behalf of the Irish parliament.

V&A fulfills £100k regional pledge

V&A fulfills £100k regional pledge

The Victoria & Albert Museum is fulfilling the promise its then director made when it won the 2016 Art Fund Museum of the Year award, to revive its touring design exhibitions.

Pictures at an Exhibition

Pictures at an Exhibition

The Great Exhibition of the North is underway. But will it fulfil the hopes of its creators? Patrick Kelly has a look.

Huge fall in numbers of arts teachers

Huge fall in numbers of arts teachers

Arts teacher numbers in England are in dramatic decline, according to official figures.

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer, is leaving after five years in the role.

Kampfner stands down from Fed

Kampfner stands down from Fed

John Kampfner has stood down as chief executive of the Creative Industries’ Federation, which he founded four years ago with Sir John Sorrell.

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Axe falls after Creative Scotland grant cut

Site making its Steel City mark

Site making its Steel City mark

Sheffield’s Site Gallery is to reopen with three times the space, and a new mission with a new artistic director, it was announced today.

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

The government’s Brexit white paper has set out a basis to ensure artists’ mobility between the UK and Europe after Brexit.

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Three years since Battersea Arts Centre’s great hall burnt down, it is pre-empting it autumn opening today with a defiant message for Donald Trump https://www.bac.org.uk.

TAITMAIL   What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

TAITMAIL What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

Who is Jeremy Wright, the headlines on Tuesday were asking.  For me, he bears an unnerving likeness to Mad Magazine’sAlfred E Neuman (a kind of 1960s Forrest Gump who only ever said “What, me worry?”), but he was the Attorney General and is now the seventh Secretary State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since 2010.

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London is to get a “Colour Palace” for its gardens next summer.

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation has won £33,000 in the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale 2018 awards.

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures dance company is to collaborate with environmental sustainability agency Julie’s Bicycle to creative a creative green certificate for touring.

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Councillors in Reading are backing a plan to turn the town’s famous jail into an arts centre.

New culture secretary appointed

New culture secretary appointed

Kenilworth MP and former Attorney General Jeremy Wright MP is the latest Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport .

YOUTH Forbidden music

Disabled and disadvantaged young musicians are being barred from training, but a consortium of three major venues around the country has vowed to open opportunities for them. Simon Tait reports

Those with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) and from other minority groups are being barred from developing their music skills by an inadequate education system. Many talented young musicians may never know how gifted they are because opportunities have been denied them.

Three major venues, at different parts of England, have decided to take matters into their own hands, and have launched a collaborative scheme to provide at least some of the chances the formal system has closed off. So new is the emerging scheme it doesn’t even have a name yet.

[Image shows, left to right, Louise Mitchell,Thangam Debbonaire MP and Clarence Adoo at the scheme's Westminster launch]

“Many people are being excluded from music education and it’s going to have an impact on our life and creativity fare into the future” says Louise Mitchell, chief executive of the Bristol Music Trust (BMT), which now runs the city’s main concert venue, Colston Hall. “People will look back in 50 years and be absolutely amazed at the decisions that were made. We’re going to try to fill the gap.”

“We” are the BMT through its Bristol Plays Music team, Sage Gateshead and the Barbican in the City of London. Each of them is a major music venue: Sage Gateshead opened in 2004 and has become the leading musical venue on the east side of the country with a speciality of cross-genre music; the Barbican has deep experience of bringing music to the young of London’s East End, and in 2023 hopes to open its new £200m music centre; and the BMT will close Colston Hall next June for a £48m remake to reopen in 2020.

They will devise together, using each other’s expertise, to create programmes to bring and train young SEND people, but also black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and those from deprived areas. Their “strategic partnership”, as it is being called, was announced at the Houses of Parliament in November among a group of peers and MPS, including culture minister Matt Hancock.

Bristol MP – and former National Youth Orchestra cellist – Thangam Debbonaire was also there. “I was trained as a classical musician and I certainly noticed that I was usually the only non-white person in the orchestra” she says. “I also know it was difficult for musicians with disabilities to take part easily. Music brings great joy, it belongs to everyone and should not be the preserve of a small group”.

A special guest at the reception was Clarence Adoo, a trained trumpet player who was paralysed from the neck down in a road crash in 1995 and fought back to become a prolific performer and the orchestral and health programme leader at Sage Gateshead, even inventing head-set that enables him to play. “At Sage Gateshead we believe all people should have equal opportunities to engage with music” he said at the event. “We could not be more pleased to share a vision of musical inclusion with our partners, - collectively we can increase social connection with our communities and demonstrate how music can contribute to addressing some of the most significant health and social problems”.  The Sage already has a wide programme of artist development.

The Barbican has a creative learning division to access and support people formal backgrounds which reached 80,000 people last year.  The director learning and engagement for the Barbican and its sister the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Sean Gregory, said: “We share a collective desire to achieve sustainable social impact through the arts and we are looking forward to working together to further promote inclusion and accessibility in music-making.”

But it’s more than “promoting inclusion”, Louise Mitchell explains: “We’re keen to get beyond the single project idea, because we know there’s a difference between doing inclusion and being inclusive. Inclusivity has to be in our everyday practice, not a three-year special programme”.

So the three, despite the distance between them, are working closely together to devise permanent programmes within their venues and their associated ensembles to create the openings the education system cannot.

Specifically, they are focussing on accelerating musical opportunities for young SEND musicians and others learning to make music in challenging circumstances; devising and sharing teacher training for SEND and BAME groups; and analysing, evaluating and where necessary revising how their practice develops.

In fact, the three partners have been working together for some time, and the Westminster announcement was its debut because the need is urgent and they want a national platform so that as their work together develops it can be rolled out to other parts of the country, with the blessing of the Department for Education. “We want to have a national influence with what we do” Mitchell says.

Bristol is already a national leader in helping SEND musicians. A new partner of the BMT is the British Paraorchestra, the world’s only large-scale ensemble for disabled musicians which will be resident at Colston Hall whose redesign has access for disabled musicians at its base. Bristol is also home for the National Open Youth Orchestra, to be launched next year as the first disabled-led national youth orchestra, a development of the South-West Open Youth Orchestra founded in 2015 (and another BMT partner).

There is no special funding for the partnership. All three are National Portfolio Organisations getting regular Arts Council funding, and they see opening opportunities for those denied them by the regular system as part of what they are funded to do.

Effectively, the partners are defying funding cuts from central and local government to tackle an issue they perceive as urgent and off other agendas, and the fault does not lie with our conservatoires and music colleges whop are not training SEND musicians.

“It goes further back than that” says Louise Mitchell. “They can only admit people with a certain level of skill, back to basic music teaching in early years. If you assume consciously or unconsciously somebody disabled can’t take part, never going to get on the pathway towards a career.

“Music teaching frighteningly sparse, it’s a postcode lottery, for all children and we are addressing a small but urgent part of the problem.”

 

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