England/August 21, 2023/By: Caroline Davies/Source: https://www.theguardian.com/
Specialist creative college on model of Croydon institution that nurtured Adele and Amy Winehouse to be sited in Bradford
It has launched stars from Adele to Amy Winehouse, Jessie J to Tom Holland. Indeed, alumni from the Brit school for performance and creative arts in Croydon, south London, are said to have collectively sold more than 250m albums and won 15 Brit awards.
Now more budding singers, actors and performance artists will get the opportunity to develop and hone their talents, with plans approved to open a northern version of the school.
The Department for Education has given the green light for a Brit School North in Bradford, West Yorkshire, inspired by the Croydon model which opened in 1991 and is free to attend.
The BPI – the representative voice for record labels across the UK – plans to open the specialist creative college in around 2026-27 to allow students aged 16-19 to study performance, production and digital subjects.
The culture secretary, Lucy Frazer, said she is looking for “the next Adele or Amy Winehouse”.
“We’ve seen the success of the Brit school in Croydon, producing national superstars. I think it is really exciting that we’ve got another opportunity, up north, to do exactly the same,” she told the Mail on Sunday.
The school will offer 500 places and will be free to attend with a curriculum focusing on subjects including dance, music, theatre and production arts.
The Bradford-born singer Zayn Malik, a former member of One Direction, was among those who expressed support for the school.
The education secretary, Gillian Keegan, said: “The north is full of creative talent,” adding that the school would mean “more young people will be able to reach their potential”.
The BPI’s chief executive, Jo Twist, said the approval of the plan was “a positive signal that government recognises the critical importance of creative and specialist creative arts education”.
She added: “The UK is a world leader in music and across the creative industries and if we want this to continue, we must invest in talent and the highly transferable skills needed for a competitive economy.”
The BPI chair, YolanDa Brown, said the school would improve access to creative education and reduce the need for young people to move to London and the south-east.
For the bid there was collaboration between the BPI, the record companies Sony Music Entertainment UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK, the Brit school, East London Arts & Music (ELAM) and the Day One Trust that runs ELAM and the London Screen Academy (LSA).
The three record company partners have committed to contribute an initial amount of additional funding towards the school, which is expected to be used to fund the purchase of equipment.
The mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, said: “This is a fantastic win for the north and supports our ambition to ensure opportunities for all, no matter where you’re from or where you live.
“The buildup to Bradford UK city of culture 2025 has already started to inspire the next generation of artists.
“And now, with West Yorkshire becoming the home of Brit School North, more young people can follow in the footsteps of our world-class homegrown artists, from the likes of Mel B and Corinne Bailey Rae to the Kaiser Chiefs.”
The leader of Bradford council, Susan Hinchcliffe, said the school was “brilliant news for the Bradford district”.
“There is a huge creative and cultural buzz around Bradford right now. We are preparing to be the UK’s city of culture in 2025 and will soon celebrate the opening of Bradford Live, a new 4,000-capacity live music venue in the old Odeon cinema,” she said.
“I am delighted that the BPI has decided Bradford would be the perfect location for their new school. It is a great decision on their part.
“There is enormous talent in our young, energetic, diverse population and this can bring them life-changing opportunities.
“It’s exciting to think about the future stars of music, art, film, TV and dance from our region. This school will help them to fulfil their dreams.”