Young Londoners and disabled people are being given the opportunity to develop their skills in the creative industries thanks to funding from the London Development Agency (LDA).
Under the first phase of its new 2012 London Cultural Skills Fund, the £1.2 million program will enable four art organizations in the capital to put on courses in theater production, media and design.
The fund, managed by Arts Council England, will support strong community-based skills, training and employment support projects so that more Londoners can participate in the Cultural Olympiad and other arts related activities in the run up to 2012.
Two theater groups - the acclaimed Young Vic and disability focused Graeae Theatre Company - have each been awarded round one grants worth around £50,000, as have East Potential and Cockpit Arts, which will provide training in media and design. A further £1 million will be awarded later this year.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said:
"The London Games are not just about what happens in August 2012 and sporting participation and achievement. The Cultural Skills Fund is designed to ensure the legacy of the Games will also be about the development of employment, expertise and ability in other areas such as the creative industries. Our world class creative sector remains a critical part of the London economy and - now is the time to ensure the capital retains this leading edge once we emerge from the recession"
Peter Rogers, LDA Chief Executive, said:
"The 2012 Games are an unprecedented opportunity for London to showcase its creative talents on a global scale and galvanize thousands of people to get involved in the arts. We want to support those individuals through the 2012 Cultural Skills Fund so arts and cultural groups can help Londoners to gain valuable skills that will improve their job prospects while also boosting our creative sector"
Moira Sinclair, Executive Director of Arts Council England, London said:
"Arts Council England is pleased to be working with the London Development Agency to support the creation of new cultural opportunities for communities in London.
"The 2012 London Cultural Skills Fund awards will develop local talent and equip people with creative skills during the years leading up to 2012, bringing us a step closer to achieving our collective vision of inspiring and raising the aspirations of communities for years to come"
Projects to benefit from Round one funding
1. The Young Vic - Skills for Emerging Theatre Makers (Southwark)
To fund free intensive training courses to help 100 young people develop skills in directing, acting and technical production.
David Lan, Artistic Director, Young Vic, said:
"At the Young Vic widening access underpins our work on and off stage. Integrated with our artistic program is a renowned participation program which aims to break down barriers that prevent young people from experiencing theater as participants - makers and/or audience.
"We are delighted to be able to expand and develop this program in new ways with the support of the London 2012 Cultural Skills Fund"
2. Graeae Theatre Company - Against the Tide (Islington)
One of the UK's leading disability theater companies is working with Australia's Strange Fruit Sway Pole company to train around 30 deaf and disabled artists to develop skills in new art forms. They will include sway pole performing, harness performing and a signed song chorus among film and scripted narrative.
Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director, said:
"Deaf and disabled people have been absent from the street arts performance arena but the LDA training will equip us with new skills to enable us to have a visibility and impact in this genre and we look forward to showcasing their skills at the Greenwich and Docklands Festival in June this year.
"We have just completed the initial phase of this program which was the first ever sway pole performance training for deaf and disabled people. The team's response to individual physical achievements has been very moving"
3. East Potential (part of East Thames Group) - Film East (Newham, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest and Havering)
East Potential, a social regeneration charity working to benefit communities in east London and Essex, will offer media skills courses to around 70 young people across six east London boroughs. Film East will be offered to young people living in East Potential's foyers, which house and support 17-24 year-olds who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, as well as young people living in social housing estates who could benefit from support to achieve their goals.
Pamela Gardner, Director of Social and Economic Regeneration at East Thames Group, said:
"We are really excited about this opportunity to engage young people in east London in creative media programs. It's a vital part of our work to help young people and adults - including many who are vulnerable and marginalized - to create a brighter future for themselves and their communities. Film East will enable us to work with hard to reach young people in a way that will provide them with valuable skills and also, we hope, inspire them to take advantage of cultural opportunities arising in the run up to 2012"
4. Cockpit Arts - Creative Careers for NEETS (Westminster)
The charity will provide 10 NEETS (Not in education, employment or training) with business and skills training in designing fashion, jewelery and interior products. They will also receive mentoring with the goal of moving into employment or further training after the course.
Vanessa Swann, Chief Executive, said:
"As the UK's only creative business incubator for designer-makers, it is essential that we nurture emerging talent. The Cultural Skills Fund award has enabled us to collaborate with Head for Business to provide a unique new entry route for raw creative talent, with little or no formal education, to work alongside established designers in a professional environment"
Round two and three
Round two funding for the 2012 London Cultural Skills Fund is currently being decided and round three funding opportunities will be advertised through the LDA website and across the sector in June. For more information on eligibility and how to apply visit www.artscouncil.org.uk/lcsf
The 2012 London Cultural Skills Fund is worth £1.2 million over two years with award grants ranging from £25,000 to £50,000 to projects across London. These could be anything from multi-media skills gained through a film project, to set design or set construction skills gained through work in a theater.
The LDA will also be holding an event this summer involving various London 2012 partners to update the capital's creative and cultural sectors on cultural programs and opportunities linked to the 2012 Games. There will also be advice about accessing CompeteFor - an online electronic service to bid for Olympic related contracts.