Artsmark hits the target

Arts provision in schools received a boost this week with the news that 1,580 schools and other education providers across the UK have won an Artsmark award.

Run by Arts Council England (ACE), Artsmark is a national programme that recognises and celebrates schools that deliver a rich, high quality arts provision to pupils. This year, for the first time, the award programme has been extended to include further education colleges and youth justice settings.

According to ACE, the Artsmark award has also been re-developed to place greater focus on the quality and quantity of arts provision. The aim is to better support the Art Council’s 10-year goal of ensuring that every child and young person in the UK can benefit from the richness of the arts.

Reaching out

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “We took some time last year to 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 re-launched 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.”

Children & the Arts welcomes ACE’s ambitions for Artsmark, but stresses the need to reach out to disadvantaged children and young people, who are the least likely to benefit from engagement and participation in the arts.

“We’re delighted to see such a high number of schools winning an Artsmark award, which reflects the excellent standard of arts provision being delivered in many settings,” says Jeremy Newton, CEO of Children & the Arts.

“However, many young people in the UK are still cut off from the benefits that creative and cultural education can bring, such as improved communication skills, raised aspiration levels and higher attainment. We want to see every child in the UK have the opportunity to be inspired by the arts and be able to reach their full potential.”

New grants

This week, ACE also announced two major new grants, which look set to create exciting opportunities for children and young people in the fields of music and dance.

One grant will create a new National Youth Dance company, enabling talented young people from all backgrounds to develop high level performance skills needed for a professional dance career. A UK first, the creation of the company was one of the specific recommendations set out in Darren Henley’s recent review of cultural education. Over each of the next three years, the company will work with 30 performers aged 16 to 19 to provide new training and performance opportunities led by world-leading choreographers.

The second grant will create a national In Harmony programme, based on the Venezuelan El Sistema model which aims to transform the lives of children in deprived communities through community-based orchestral music-making. Four new In Harmony projects will be created between 2012 and 2015.

Want to join the discussion? Follow us on Twitter.