Arts Award Celebrates 15 Years

In just three years, Bradford Theatres has helped 272 young people achieve Arts Awards, from the entry levels of Explore right up to the highest award, Gold, which carries valuable UCAS points for higher education. 

The work Bradford Theatres have been delivering is part of START, a three-year engagement programme of arts activity between selected cultural organisations and local schools, that tackles inequality by working with young people who are deemed at risk of missing out on a creative and cultural education. 

Beckfoot Upper Heaton, Bradford College, Feversham College, Hilltop C of E Primary School, Samuel Lister Academy and Southmere Primary Academy have all partnered with Bradford Theatres for the Arts Awards, which this month (October) celebrates a national milestone of 15 years of creativity and leadership. 

Youngsters have seen a selection of shows at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford, including Royal Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet, Matilda, Blood Brothers. A Tale of Two Cities, Joseph, An Inspector Calls, Matthew Bourne dance productions and three pantomimes; and had the opportunity to take part in workshops with the theatre team to help them to develop their critical eye and have fun creating their own artistic work. 

Hill Top C of E Primary School in Low Moor, Bradford, worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Bradford Theatres for two years to produce an edited performance of Matilda The Musical as their school play in spring last year. Amongst the many activities, members of the RSC cast went into the school to give tips and advice, and 75 families from the school came to the Alhambra Theatre to see the dress rehearsal of the RSC’s production. 

Des Martin, Head Teacher at the school since 2006, said:

“The trip to the Alhambra was magical and the first time many pupils had been into a theatre. They absolutely loved the experience and gained many happy memories. It also impacted on other areas of learning including reading and writing.”

 He added: “We noticed that once pupils and their families had seen the dress rehearsal of Matilda, they had the courage to go back to the theatre, so the opportunity had a lasting effect on the whole family.

 “The school has a great partnership with Bradford Theatres and our pupils have seen many other shows too including Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, the RSC’s Romeo and Juliet and of course, some wonderful pantomimes, including Snow White last year. We are now looking forward to bringing a party of 70 pupils to see The Lion King in 2022.” 

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places said: 

“I am delighted that so many young people from across Bradford have been able to participate in the Arts Award which is a truly inspiring and energising award scheme. The Start programme has been a fantastic way to give children access to quality culture and theatre, which ultimately enriches every part of their learning journey through school and beyond.” 

The Arts Award programme is run by Trinity College and Arts Council England, and has a range of five unique qualifications that supports anyone aged up to 25 to grow as artists and arts leaders, inspiring them to connect with and take part in the wider arts world through taking challenges in an art form - from fashion to digital art, pottery to poetry. To find out more about Arts Award visit

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