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Burberry Inspire: Celebrating the impact of arts and culture education on young people's lives

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  • To mark the first year of Burberry Inspire, the first in-school arts and culture programme of its scope and scale, students performed at Leeds City Museum to show how the programme has boosted their confidence and opened up possibilities for their future
  • Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Young Film, Northern Ballet and The Hepworth Wakefield have partnered with the Burberry Foundation and Ideas Foundation to deliver the Burberry Inspire programme, providing immersive arts and culture education to thousands of 11 – 14-year olds in Yorkshire over four years
  • The impact of Burberry Inspire is being studied by the Policy Institute at King’s College London to examine how cultural and creative education can help young people transcend challenging circumstances, widen their horizons and realise their aspirations

Leeds City Museum was transformed through a series of dance, art, theatre and film performances by secondary school students from across Yorkshire to celebrate their participation in the first year of the four-year Burberry Inspire programme. The initiative is the first in-school art and culture programme of its scope and scale in the UK designed to understand how deep experience of the arts can have a positive effect on young people’s lives.

Over 100 11 – 14 year olds from eight schools across Yorkshire showcased the creative work they have prepared over the last year with support from a dedicated Artist in Residence from Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Young Film, Northern Ballet and The Hepworth Wakefield.

The performances – titled the “Burberry Inspire Cultural Runway” - also told the story of the positive impact learning with the Artists in Residence has had on the students’ lives.

Commenting on how Burberry Inspire has impacted his life, Luke, a Year 9 student at University Academy Keighley, said: “It now makes me really happy at the end of Friday, because now I can come to the drama club and do what I love and what I’m really passionate about. I would like to be a stage actor or a film actor and Burberry Inspire will help me achieve that with the after- school drama clubs. Burberry Inspire has also helped me in other lessons, whether doing presentations or reading work in front of class mates.”

The impact of the four-year long programme is being studied by researchers from the Policy Institute at King’s College London, who are examining how cultural and creative education can help young people to transcend challenging circumstances, widen their horizons and realise their aspirations.

By measuring the impact of the programme on the students’ personal and academic development the Policy Institute at King’s College London aims to generate valuable evidence about the effects of creative learning and provide a greater understanding of effective ways to engage with young people.

Pam Batty, Secretary to the Burberry Foundation and Burberry’s VP of Corporate Responsibility, said: “We’re thrilled to see the early impact of Burberry Inspire. In just one year we’ve given over 4,000 students an in-depth experience of arts and culture, from dance and theatre to filmmaking and sculpture, all in partnership with the most eminent arts institutions in Yorkshire. The Burberry Foundation is dedicated to using the power of creativity to drive positive change and we are excited to soon roll out Burberry Inspire internationally to positively impact even more young people through cultural experiences and education.” 

Heather MacRae, Managing Director of the Ideas Foundation, said: “Creativity is sometimes being squeezed out of the curriculum as there is such pressure to achieve exam success. Burberry Inspire shows the power of arts and culture to inspire young people to see their heritage and their future in new and exciting ways. It’s been wonderful to see how cultural experiences have been woven into so many different lessons – not just art and design but geography, PE, English and history.”

Alexander Ferris, Director of Creative Engagement at Leeds Playhouse said: “As part of Burberry Inspire, Leeds Playhouse has had a fantastic time working closely with our partner schools, South Craven and University Academy Keighley. The students have spent the year exploring what the concept of heritage means to them.

Since watching our production of Partition, a radio play that told the story of how the partition of the Indian subcontinent still impacts people today, the students have been inspired to reflect on their own culture and history.

Through Art, English, Music and Drama lessons, students took part in creative writing activities and spoken word poetry to communicate their own sense of identity, and their place within Yorkshire's past, present and future.

The aim of the project and our shared ambitions was about inspiring young people, raising achievements and aspirations through participation in the arts. It has been fantastic to witness how the students and teachers have embraced working with new techniques to express themselves and we can’t wait to see them showcase and celebrate all they have created as part of the cultural runway.”

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, added: “Culture and the arts can have a life-changing impact on young people from all backgrounds and it’s always exciting to see projects like Burberry Inspire give young people a chance to express themselves in new and innovative ways.

“By introducing a new generation to film-making Leeds Young Film are delivering a fitting tribute to the city’s rich heritage in the industry and I look forward to seeing more of what they have created.”

Leanne Kirkham, Director of Learning at Northern Ballet, commented: “Burberry Inspire has allowed Northern Ballet dance artists to work collaboratively with school teachers, a range of industry professionals and pupils, giving young people the chance to become artists in their own right. Each of our schools have created their own dance films and have been involved every step of the way. From designing costumes to set building and choreographing, the pupils explored their own heritage to drive the creative vision of the project.

A highlight for us was welcoming over 700 pupils and staff to Leeds Grand Theatre to see Northern Ballet’s production of Victoria. Most of the pupils had never seen a ballet before and for some, it was their first ever theatre visit. Thanks to Burberry Inspire, we hope that the young people go on to experiment with more art forms and continue their own creative journey.”

Nicola Freeman, Director of Engagement and Learning at The Hepworth Wakefield, said: “Developing creativity through the arts is essential to a child’s education. The Burberry Inspire initiative has allowed us to build upon our already ambitious learning and engagement programme. Over the past year, it has been hugely rewarding to see pupils develop their creative and technical skills during visits to the gallery, spending time with artists and experimenting with a range of media and styles. The Cultural Runway is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate what young people can achieve through access to world-class art.”


About the Burberry Foundation

The Burberry Foundation was set up in 2008 by Burberry Group plc as an independent charity for general charitable purposes and grant-making. The Foundation Board comprises two Burberry representatives and an independent trustee. The Board meets four times a year and is responsible for upholding the Foundation’s vision and ensuring delivery of its charitable purpose.

Considering the varied social, environmental and economic impacts of the luxury industry on communities worldwide, the Foundation is dedicated to using the power of creativity to drive positive change in our communities and build a more sustainable future through innovation. It is therefore taking a long-term approach and focusing its grant-making on promoting the STEAM agenda, tackling educational inequality, reducing waste and supporting social and economic development.

About Ideas Foundation

Ideas Foundation believes that the brightest ideas don’t come from one place or one type of person. Last year, 92% of creative jobs in the UK were held by the most ‘advantaged’ in society. This doesn’t add up for anyone.

As a registered charity, Ideas Foundation helps to move the creative, tech and communications industries in a more diverse direction. It’s asking them to think bigger and open their doors to students who don’t normally get a look-in, students who may never have thought about joining the industry yet are full of ideas.

About the Partner Programmes 

Leeds Playhouse

  • Leeds Playhouse has a reputation both nationally and internationally as a leading UK producing theatre. Evolving and regenerating over its 50-year history the theatre has continued to be a cultural hub and artistic beacon for the North, a place where people gather to tell and share stories, and to engage in world class theatre.
  • In Year One of the Burberry Inspire project, all KS3 students at South Craven School and University Academy Keighley have had the opportunity to experience a performance of Leeds Playhouse’s Partition. As well as seeing actors on stage and hearing the play, students got a behind the scenes look at how sound effects are created for a radio play.
  • Inspired by Partition, students had the chance to work with a variety of theatre industry experts, including voice coaches, writers, directors, actors, producers, designers, and other creatives who work on the shows at the Playhouse. The focus of the project is to give young people a voice and their confidence, whilst exploring their heritage and their place in the world - so that the young people value not only what they think but what they have to say and how they say it.
  • As well as supporting them in their production of the final performance, this will also serve as invaluable careers education and will widen the aspirations of the young people by showing them the variety of arts careers paths that are available.
  • The Playhouse team has worked closely with both schools, ensuring specially created programmes of activity that is appropriate to the needs of each school.

Leeds Young Film

  • Leeds Young Film has been supporting young people through various partnerships and programmes since 2003 and developed a very keen focus on the gap that young people can often fall into once leaving school and trying to gain meaningful employment in the creative industries, particularly the media sector.
  • As part of Leeds City Council, we are committed to closing the gap within the City between the wealth that is generated here and many of the residents, particularly the children, who live here.
  • The students have taken part in filmmaking related workshops to develop transferable cultural skills including: Virtual Reality, documentary, music video, social media and vlogging and art film.
  • They have had the opportunity to contribute to a screening at Victoria Hall during Leeds Town Hall during Leeds International Film Festival. They also met and worked alongside a series of high profile guests from the industry who will share, not only their skills but also their knowledge and the story of their path to the sector.
  • The students’ experiences have been backed up with practical, meaningful information about how to take their ambitions further within reach, as well as empowerment through skills and abilities - both technical, interpersonal but also skills to increase employability such as collaborative working, problem solving and creative expression.

Northern Ballet

  • The overall aims of the Burberry Inspire project align perfectly with Northern Ballet’s commitment to work within the local community, to broaden cultural engagement and awareness of the creative industries, through access to opportunities in the arts.
  • As the largest dance organisation in the North of England, Northern Ballet wants to ensure the Company is reflective of its location through the people it works with and in its artistic outputs. This is part of Northern Ballet’s long-term commitment to the Creative Case for Diversity, to ensure it is more reflective of its local community.
  • All KS3 students have had access to dance workshops in curriculum time and the opportunity to take part in after school clubs. As well as contributing to a healthier lifestyle, the sessions built confidence, teamwork, creativity and self-esteem, all of which are transferable skills across the curriculum and personal development. Dance transcends language and cultural differences, contributing to a collective community for students.
  • All KS3 students had the opportunity to see Northern Ballet’s production of Victoria at Leeds Grand Theatre, providing students with the context of the locality of high-quality based arts and culture in their home town.

The Hepworth Wakefield

  • Named after Barbara Hepworth, one of the most important artists of the 20th century who was born and brought up in Wakefield, The Hepworth Wakefield presents major exhibitions of the best international modern and contemporary art. It is also home to Wakefield’s art collection – an impressive compendium of modern British and contemporary art – and has dedicated galleries exploring Hepworth’s art and working process. It was awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. In summer 2019, The Hepworth Wakefield Garden will open alongside the gallery. Designed by Tom Stuart-Smith, it will feature sculptures and be one of the largest free public gardens in the UK.
  • The founding purpose of The Hepworth Wakefield was to act as a catalyst for regeneration and to raise aspirations locally, and the organisation already has an extensive schools and community engagement programme – including its flagship School Prints project.
  • Following ongoing conversations with Airedale Academy and Castleford Academy (the partner schools in the first year), it was clear that opening their students’ eyes to new experiences and possibilities is a key priority.
  • Throughout the project, The Hepworth Wakefield held a series of practical sculpture building, printmaking and mark making workshops that had an emphasis on working with the surrounding Yorkshire landscape as inspiration. These workshops encouraged the students to engage with the world around them, gaining an understanding of the history of their local environment – from the world class artists who were born and brought up here to the celebrated textile industry of West Yorkshire – allowing them to build a sense of civic pride and sense of place in their community.
  • A course of six artist-led workshops at the gallery provided the pupils with the opportunity to explore a range of mediums that it is unlikely they would have access to in school. These including producing 3D sculptures, learning printmaking skills, experimenting with clay and the methods behind the textile production.
  • The Hepworth Wakefield worked with 10 Artists-in-Residence from a variety of different specialist creative backgrounds. Each artist spent a period of seven months with the participating schools, developing weekly after-school clubs for children to try new skills and work with different materials.

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