Let’s Not Forget The Music Makers

And The Dreamers Of Dreams…

As the pandemic hit in March 2020 and the world shut down, the artists, the designers, the writers, the musicians and all the many other creative industries, were told to ‘stay at home’ writes Helen Sanderson

We clapped for the carers, and gave thanks for those deemed ‘essential’ workers whilst the artists stayed at home. With time to think, people found new creative outlets and renewed their love of the arts. To quote, the now famous, Kitty O’Meara poem about this time…

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.”

What we are now seeing that out of these dark times has come a greater understanding that music, art, poetry, writing, dancing and design, are what makes us human.

Speaking to Mark Johnstone, technical iIlustrator and higher education Curriculum Manager at The Blackpool School of Arts he explained: “Before the pandemic hit, one in eight people in this country were employed in the Arts and the industry contributed over £10.8billion a year to the UK economy. This success has been built upon the UK’s world leading arts education and its entrepreneurial graduates. 65 per cent of employees in the creative sector have a degree, evidencing the value of the universities and schools of art. An arts education develops high level creative skills along with complex problem solving and critical thinking, areas that the World Economic Forum identified as the top three skills for future jobs.”

Despite the Government providing emergency funding for the cultural sector across the country through the Culture Recovery Fund they have continued to in turn to appear to devalue the arts industry by reducing funding for Higher Education. This will limit the availability and accessibility of places on arts courses and result in fewer courses being offered.

Rachelle Panagarry, designer, professional illustrator and lecturer at The Blackpool School of Arts said: “Arts education is fundamental to the lives of the next generation of artists and designers. As professionals in the arts, we use the process of going to university as a way to learn, network, grow and experience the arts as a career. Artists and designers learn about art so they can see and engage with the world in a new and exciting way. They collaborate with scientists, engineers, new technologies, the NHS. Art positively contributes to wider society and not just the economy, it has the power to bring communities together, which we have all seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Art is essential to the growth of this country.”

Blackpool School of Arts was established in 1937 and at first taught RAF artists how to develop and create maps. In 1949 as part of Blackpool and The Fylde College it offered degree courses that were validated by Lancaster University. Since then it’s gone on to provide world renowned teaching across the whole creative spectrum.

Mark added: “Today the Blackpool School of Arts prides itself on teaching divergent thinking practical skills and digital competencies for the future. A creative community of practice, it embraces the potential for cross-curricular working whilst retaining the specialisms of discrete disciplines. We embrace project and problem-based learning, the ethos of the School rests on three pillars – Community; Connectivity and Process.”

Under a new leader, Annie Kerfoot, the Head of School, formerly Head of Creative and Digital at Blackburn College – is already getting a great sense of how Blackpool School of Arts changes lives. Anne said of the school: “It’s a dream to be working with a team that’s already developed an outstanding reputation in arts education. There’s a strong sense of creative community at Blackpool School of Arts and I hope to expand opportunities for individuals, groups and employers with different options to study with us over the coming years. My ambition is to ensure that Blackpool School of Arts makes a significant contribution to the rebuilding of the creative economy post pandemic.”

Blackpool School of Arts offers a range of programmes which have been designed to give the next generation of creatives, the skills and intellectual abilities to operate in the exciting and fast growing Creative Industries.

The campus on Palatine Road in the resort is a beautiful art deco building housing an extensive range of studio spaces, theatre space, workshops and equipment, creating a vibrant and creative learning environment designed to encourage collaborative working across the different disciplines.

Rachelle explained: “The staff are all creative practitioners with expertise in a wide range of fields such as film making, illustration, acting, singing, music, dance, fine art, graphic design, fashion, photography and costume. I personally spent twenty years as an artist in illustration and mixed-media and I have illustrated a number of best selling children books.

“The Creative Community of Practice which we operate within at The School of Arts means that staff and students work together to experiment, take risks with our work and produce professional, industry-standard exhibitions and shows. Our students have gone on to work as designers, art directors, artists, actors, West End performers, teachers, costumiers, arts administrators, illustrators and much more.”

For a full list of opportunities offered at Blackpool School of Arts go to: blackpool.ac.uk/school-of-arts



Tedd Walmsley

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