Arts Council head praises Open Academy

-Posted on 13.12.2016

Academy’s ‘significant work’ towards diversity in classical music is celebrated in keynote speech

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England (ACE), last night commended the Royal Academy of Music for its contribution to improving diversity in classical music, in a speech presenting ACE’s latest report, ‘Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case’, during the 2016 Diversity event at Manchester’s Contact Theatre.

The report analyses data about programming, participation, audiences and access to funding in all areas of the arts and cultural sector over the last year. It shows progress in black and minority ethnic representation within National Portfolio Organisations, which currently stands at 17 per cent, compared with 15 per cent of the working population, but also the need for improvement at leadership level.

In his speech, Henley explained the importance of education in encouraging diversity and social mobility: ‘From cultural education, through apprenticeships, training and skills, to higher education, to leadership opportunities, we need to see where the barriers and gaps are, and how we can overcome these. Any young person, whether disabled or not, black, Asian or working-class white, urban or rural, should feel that if they’ve got the talent and the commitment, we’re offering them a roadmap to success.’

He praised the Academy’s approach: ‘Last month, I was at the Royal Academy of Music. There, I heard from the Principal about the significant work they’re doing to increase participation among black and minority ethnic students, through their Open Academy and its collaboration with music education hubs, and through the Chance to Play scheme, which encourages children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. They hope to discover many more talented youngsters like their current student, 17-year-old state-school-educated Sheku Kanneh-Mason from Nottingham, whose parents are from Antigua and Sierra Leone. A cellist, he’s just been named BBC Young Musician of the Year. He’s smashing preconceptions about classical music, elitism and ethnicity – as are his six siblings, all of whom are enrolled with Royal Academy of Music programmes.’

Open Academy offers children in state schools across London the chance to work on creative projects alongside Royal Academy students, giving them what is often their first taste of participating in music, under the guidance of specially trained music leaders, and alongside organisations such as Wigmore Hall, Spitalfields Music and Glyndebourne Opera. Around 5,000 people experience Open Academy every year.

Find out more about Open Academy.
Read the full report

Search news articles

Please use the selection menu below or the text field to filter your results: