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Leading arts figures call for the EBacc to be dropped

8 January 2016

Incorporated Society of Musicians chief executive Deborah Annetts, Birmingham Conservatoire director Professor Julian Lloyd Webber and Royal Philharmonic Society executive director Rosemary Johnson are among the 73 leading arts figures to co-sign a letter protesting against the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).


The letter, which appeared in the Times, expresses concern that the EBacc is to become 'all but compulsory in schools as a headline accountability measure.'

It warns that 'there would be little room left for pupils to study creative industry-relevant subjects and the arts would be squeezed out of schools altogether' if the current plans became reality, adding: 'To continue to build a thriving creative economy, the arts must be given equal visibility in our schools.'

Stating that the UK's creative industries contribute more than £76 billion to the UK economy and employ more than 1.7 million people, it asserts: 'It makes no sense for the government to implement an educational strategy which is narrowing a skills base in an area so integral to our economy’s success.'

Under the proposed EBacc system, every pupil taking their GCSEs would have to study at least of seven GCSEs: English literature and English language, maths, double or triple science, a modern and/or ancient language, and history and/or geography.

The letter is part of the 'Bacc for the Future' campaign, which wants to ensure that arts subjects remain on the curriculum.

Other signatories include the Globe Theatre’s Neil Constable, Rambert’s Nadia Stern, Equity's Christine Payne and director Sam West.

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Full list of signatories

Deborah Annetts, chief executive, Incorporated Society of Musicians
Neil Constable, chief executive, Shakespeare’s Globe
Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Birmingham Conservatoire
Sarah Munro, director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Nadia Stern, chief executive, Rambert
Mary Bousted, general secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers
Christine Blower, general secretary, National Union of Teachers
Andrew Chowns, CEO, Directors UK
Paul McManus, chief executive, Music Industries Association
Victoria Pomery, director, Turner Contemporary
Julian Bird, chief executive, Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre Association
Christine Payne, general secretary, Equity
David Harbourne, acting chief executive, The Edge Foundation
Gilane Tawadros, chief executive, DACS
Professor Gavin Henderson, Principal, The Royal Central School Of Speech and Drama, University of London
Sir Mark Featherstone-Witty, founding principal/CEO, The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
Professor John Butler, Head of Birmingham School of Art, BCU
Professor John Last, vice-chancellor, Norwich University of the Arts and Chair, ukadia
Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr, vice-chancellor, University for the Creative Arts
Professor Stephen Foster, director, John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton
Sam West, chair, National Campaign for the Arts
Simon Wallis, director, The Hepworth Wakefield
Susan Whiddington, director, Mousetrap Theatre Projects
Anne Rawcliffe-King, director, Royal British Society of Sculptors
Fin Kennedy, artistic director, Tamasha Theatre Company
Katy Spicer, chief executive, English Folk Dance and Song Society
Lesley Butterworth, general secretary, NSEAD
Paul Smith, executive director, Liverpool Biennial
Richard Green, chief executive, Design and Technology Association
Simon Thomsett, chief executive, Fairfield Halls
Terry Luddington, chief executive officer, The British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech
Adrian Friedli, freelance consultant, former programme lead Hull 2017
Andrew Nairne, director, Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge
Anthony Spira, director, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes
Barbara Eifler, executive director, Making Music
Benjamin Dunks, artistic director, Attik Dance
Chris Romer-Lee, co-founder of Studio Octopi and Thames Baths CIC
Dave Moutrey, director and chief executive, HOME (Greater Manchester Arts Centre)
David Wood, chair, Action for Children’s Arts
Dominic McGonigal, chairman, C8 Associates
Donna Lynas, director of Wysing Art Centre, Cambridge
Dorothy Wilson, artistic director and chief executive, mac birmingham
Dr Elizabeth Stafford, director, Music Education Solutions
Ed Scolding, director, Greenwich Music School
Geoffrey Harniess, head of the Centre for Young Musicians
Helen Legg, director of Spike Island, Bristol
James Grieve and George Perrin, artistic directors, Paines Plough
Jonathan Lloyd-Platt, chair, Heritage Crafts Association
Karen Dickinson, director, Music for Little People Ltd
Kate Brindley, CEO, Arnolfini
Kwong Lee, director of Castlefield Gallery, Manchester
Rachel Greaves, general secretary, Association of British Choral Directors
Peter Broadbent, director of training, Association of British Choral Directors
Lindsay Taylor, arts curator, University of Salford
Liz Hill, editor, ArtsProfessional
Lucy Phillips, director, Leicester Print Workshop
Margot Heller, director, South London Gallery
Marisa Draper, head of engagement, HOME (Greater Manchester Arts Centre)
Michael Smith, director, Cog Design
Nigel Burrows, education manager, Yamaha Music Schools
Paul Hobson, director, Modern Art Oxford
Paul Hoskins, conductor and music director, Rambert
Phillip Flood, chief executive, Sound Connections
Polly Staple, director, Chisenhale Gallery
Rachel Tackley, director, English Touring Theatre and President, UK Theatre
Richard Smith, curator, Lancaster Institute for the Creative Arts
Rob Smith, head of education and learning, Bow Arts Trust
Rosemary Johnson, executive director, Royal Philharmonic Society
Vicky Prior, director, League of Culture
Kat Bridge, artistic director, Greenwich Dance
Penelope Price Jones, chairman, Association of Teachers of Singing
Susie Crow, chair of trustees, The Exuberant Trust
Sarah Gee, co-founder and managing partner, Indigo Ltd
Jeanie Scott, executive director, a-n The Artists Information Company (Paying Artists campaign)
Stephen Lacey, emeritus professor of Drama, Film and Television, Faculty of Creative Industries, University of South Wales


Letter: The creative industries are integral to the success of the UK economy

UK's inaugural National Junior Original Concert to showcase young composers

7 January 2016

Sophie Stevenson and Amogha Ramasharan
Sophie Stevenson and Amogha Ramasharan

The UK's inaugural National Junior Original Concert will take place at Birmingham University's Elgar Concert Hall on 17 January.


The concert will feature 19 composers aged between seven and 14 among more than 30 performers selected from Yamaha's Junior Music Courses at Burton-on-Trent, Nottingham, Godalming and Sutton Courtenay Yamaha Music Schools.

It will be presented by Simone Rebello, director of percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music and founder of the Backbeat Percussion Quartet.

'Giving a platform to these young, and very talented musicians, is at the very heart of what we strive to achieve through our daily work within Yamaha Music Schools and the Yamaha Music Education system,' said Nigel Burrows, Yamaha Music Schools education manager. 'We are confident that this will be the first of many future concerts.'

The Yamaha Junior Original Concerts have expanded annually since the first event in 1972. More than 35,000 pieces of original music are submitted every year from children across the world.

Yamaha UK

Sistema England Young Leaders Orchestra to perform at the Southbank Centre

7 January 2016

The Sistema England Young Leaders Orchestra will perform in the Southbank Centre's Clore Ballroom at 5pm on 16 January.


The Sistema England Young Leaders Orchestra will join the newly formed Sistema London Orchestra and ensembles from In Harmony Lambeth and the Nucleo Project for a brief performance.

The performance will celebrate the achievements of the four programmes represented, which together involve over 1,500 young people, as well as marking the Southbank Centre residency of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

The performance will be directed by Félix Briceño of El Sistema, Juan Carlos Maggiorani of Orquestra Geração (Sistema Portugal), and Rod Skipp from In Harmony Liverpool.

Formed in October 2015, the ensemble comprises 45 talented young musicians from In Harmony Lambeth, In Harmony Liverpool, Sistema in Norwich and the Nucleo Project.

The event is free and unticketed.

Sistema England Young Leaders Orchestra

Luke Styles composes new Foundling anthem

7 January 2016

Composer Luke Styles with a student from Argyle Primary School
Composer Luke Styles with a student from Argyle Primary School

Luke Styles has composed a new Foundling anthem, more than 260 years after Handel's original composition for the Foundling Hospital.

Intertwining baroque and contemporary musical influences, the Foundling Hospital Anthem sets excerpts from the Royal Charter of 1739 and the Gin Act of 1751 alongside poetry and letters written by foundlings and their mothers.

Styles is the museum's first composer-in-residence since Handel's involvement with the Foundling Hospital in the 18th century.

The composer worked with children from Argyle Primary School over the course of ten months, running composing workshops and incorporating their ideas into his work.

'Composing this work has allowed me to delve into the rich emotional history of the Foundling Hospital and to explore the musical style of the Baroque. This has led me to a host of diverse and moving texts to shape my music around and to experiment with new musical aesthetics,' the composer said.

Handel wrote his Foundling Hospital Anthem for a benefit concert in 1749. The composer borrowed music from a number of other works, including passages from his funeral anthem for Queen Caroline, the oratorio Susanna, and music by Lotti and Kuhnau; the work ended with the 'Hallelujah Chorus' from Messiah. 

The Foundling Museum Anthem will be performed by children from Argyle Primary School and La Nuova Musica on 8 February. Tickets cost £5 (£3 concessions).

Foundling Anthem promenade

New National Children's Orchestra MD withdraws from role

7 January 2016

Dominic Jewel
Dominic Jewel

Peter Stark
Peter Stark

The incoming managing director of the National Children’s Orchestra, Dominic Jewel, has withdrawn from the job before joining the organisation. The NCO has blamed 'formalities around the terms of the role', saying the withdrawal was unexpected.

Jewel was due to take on the position early this year, having left his previous role as chief executive of the Three Choirs Festival Association last month. 

In a new year message on the NCO’s website, chairman Peter Stark wrote: ’We are disappointed to let you know that Dominic Jewel has unexpectedly decided not to take up the post of managing director with NCO, after formalities around the terms of the role proved difficult to conclude. 

‘We wish Dominic every success as he pursues opportunities elsewhere. The board is taking steps to recruit an appropriate person to take on this key role and to build on the progress made during 2015. Further announcements will be made in due course.’

Jewel told MT: 'Sadly, after unexpectedly difficult discussions, we could not agree upon the formal terms of employment, and accordingly I was unable to take up the post of managing director. I have a long-standing and positive professional friendship with Peter Stark and I continue to wish the NCO the very best for the future.'

Stark is currently leading a board of eight members, all of whom were re-elected at the NCO’s AGM on 19 December, whose role is ‘to oversee the smooth running of the organisation’. He said that the board was ‘taking steps to recruit an appropriate person to take on this key role [of managing director] and to build on the progress made during 2015’.

Carrie Sage is acting executive director at the NCO, working with artistic director and principal conductor Roger Clarkson. 

Jewel’s successor at the Three Choirs Festival, Alexis Paterson, will be starting this month. 

NCO Homepage


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