Thursday, 17 July 2014

University of Wolverhampton & Birmingham Art Partnership to lead Bridge programme in West Midlands for 2015 - 2018

·       Major partnership between University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham Arts Partnership

·       Over £1m to be invested by Arts Council England

·       Allows more children and young people to engage with arts and culture

The University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham Arts Partnership are delighted to announce they have been given the opportunity to lead the Bridge programme for the West Midlands for 2015-2018 by Arts Council England.

The investment by Arts Council allows the creation of an ambitious new region-wide partnership between the University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham Arts Partnership.

This builds upon the foundations laid by the University through its existing Bridge organisation Arts Connect, which came into being in 2012.

Arts Council England will support 10 bridge organisations across the UK, who each use their experience and expertise to connect children and young people, schools and communities with art and culture.

The new partnership will enable the Bridge programme to extend its reach and impact in enabling more children and young people to engage with arts and culture in the West Midlands.

ACE will invest just over £1m in the new West Midlands in 2015-16, with a commitment to invest annually up to 2018.

Rob Elkington, Director of Arts Connect, commented: “Today’s announcement is a vote of confidence in our plans to grow Arts Connect into a region-wide partnership. Working alongside leading Birmingham Arts Partnership, our ambition is to energise and support everyone who shares our belief in the right of children and young people to rich arts and cultural experiences.”

He continued, “Over three years, the Bridge programme will: work to develop the capacity of the arts and cultural sector in its offer to young people; support and develop cultural education networks; improve the quality of arts education in schools and promote the cultural sector as a career choice for young people. It will also work to improve and increase professional development opportunities for artists in the region.”

Andy Howell, Strategic Director of Birmingham Arts Partnership said, “Supporting arts and cultural education in schools is at the heart of the work of each member of the Birmingham Arts Partnership and of the Partnership in general.  We are delighted to be working with the University of Wolverhampton in ensuring the continued development of the region’s arts education through the Bridge Programme.  The development of creative talent is key to the economic, social and cultural development of our region. BAP — together with the University of Wolverhampton — is determined that we strengthen arts and cultural education across the region during the life of the programme and beyond.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, Professor Geoff Layer, said: “It is fantastic news that we have been successful as part of this application process. As the University of Opportunity we strongly believe in giving as many people as possible the chance to have access to and truly experience art and culture. This funding will allow Arts Connect to further develop its work in the region with schools and organisations and continue to inspire people of all ages.”

Birmingham Arts Partnership consists of Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Drum, CBSO, Sampad, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Museums Trust, mac birmingham, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Ex Cathedra, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham Opera Company, Birmingham Hippodrome, DanceXchange and Town Hall/Symphony Hall.

The University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham Arts Partnership will now work together to develop the next of the Bridge programme. It is intended that detailed plans will be shared publically in spring 2015.

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