A new sponsor is being sought for an innovative project to links schools with arts organisations in Wales following the withdrawal of funding by a business and arts organisation.
The project will provide support to school pupils to attend live performances at venues in Wales and be given mentoring in learning how to write about their experiences. It has the objective of increasing young people’s access to live performance, supporting the next generation of critics while enriching their school work.
The first schools are in place to start the project and live reviewing, mentoring and support will run through the autumn and winter 2017-2018 in the run up to Wales Theatre Awards 2018. The project is administered by Arts Awards Ltd which runs the Wales Critics Fund, a scheme to enable young people and freelances to review live performance, and the prestigious annual Wales Theatre Awards. There will also be a website for the young writers’ reviews.
The project was launched earlier this year with consultation with schools and education specialists concluding that the work should begin with an intense course with a small number of schools and venues, therefore enabling a 25% reduction in the initial requested funding application of £2,000. Schools are now in place for the initial stage of the work.
However, on advising Arts and Business Cymru of the progress of the scheme, the scheme’s organisers were notified that the panel overseeing the CultureStep organisation, that administers the allocation of funds for various charities, has withdrawn its support due to the extended timescale and refocusing of the project, saying it was free to apply again in the future.
Arts and Business’ Rachel Jones, who chairs the CultureStep panel, confirmed that a new application could be made in July. She said, “The original project was to engage up to 60 pupils across 5 secondary schools in Community First areas of Swansea and Cardiff. It was to take place in the run up to the Wales Theatre Awards in February 2017 in Swansea with the recipients attending the ceremony. At the time, the project was felt to fit well with CultureStep priorities and represented good value for money. The new project, for the same investment of £1,500, involved only 2 schools and 20-30 pupils in Cardiff only.
“While the panel could see that the overall aims of the revised project remain the same, the timescale, geographic spread and numbers proposed are markedly different. In addition to this, it fell outside the agreed timescale and the panel unanimously agreed that, in order to properly consider the new project, a separate application with full detail should be submitted.”
She said that CultureStep was designed to be straight-forward and accessible with a clear and open process, decisions are made by an experienced and independent panel with clear conditions of investment which need to be met. Her statement added, “Sadly, if they are not met, it is no longer eligible for investment. Quite simply, you did not deliver the project you applied for.”
Arts Awards Ltd director Mike Smith said, “We are very grateful to Arts and Business Cymru in their initial support for the project which, at the time we made clear would need to be flexible as it would require consultation with schools to ensure it fitted their requirements. We kept Arts and Business informed of this process, that we would require less funding now the project was primarily to take place in Cardiff with fewer schools but more intensive activity and that while it was ready to be activated the schools had asked for the first reviewing to start in the autumn term. Unfortunately we were told that the funding had been withdrawn.”
“While we are also grateful that the offer of applying again for funding has been made, this would not be until July, making it impossible to run the scheme. It needs to start immediately to be in place for reviewing to begin at the start of the next academic year. We do not want to disappoint children who will benefit from exposure to live performance and being given professional mentoring and support in becoming young reviewers.
“It would be wonderful if any sponsors can step up to avoid shattering this opportunity for young people. If you feel you can help please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org We are only looking at support of £1,000, as we have already secured £500 of support, which will enable the project to continue and to be extended, as planned, to other schools in the city across the autumn and winter.”
Arts and Business Cymru is financially supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Colwinston Charitable Trust, the Hodge Foundation, The National Lottery, Garfield Weston Foundation and Welsh Government.