Empower young creatives: BN1 Arts seeks help to continue free arts education

11th June 2024

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BN1 Arts, known as the “BRIT School of the South Coast”, is on a mission to provide creative arts training to all, empowering the next generation of artists.

Founded in 2023 by creative entrepreneur Mia Bird, BN1 Arts offers industry-led courses for 16–19-year-olds in performing arts and music as well as an Arts Centre for the wider community running evening classes and initiatives focused on an inclusive and diverse nature. However, in the current financial landscape there are challenges and BN1 Arts is seeking support to ensure free, high-quality arts education.

Mia made her West End debut in 1995 in “Sunset Boulevard” and went on to play lead roles in numerous shows, plays and TV productions. She also caught the attention of Universal Music which led her to become part of a multi-label songwriting network. Mia began pre-producing and writing songs and top lines for various artists, while also touring the UK with different bands and performing in major clubs both in the UK and abroad. Parallel to her performing career, Mia delved into business ventures and developed a strong interest in training and education.

With over 25 years of experience in founding creative academies across London and the UK, including more recently in Brighton including Bird Studios, BRICTT and the Institute for Contemporary Theatre, Mia opened BN1 Arts in response to cuts in creative training in Brighton, seemingly doing the impossible and actualising a college for 100 happy young people in just 4 months.

Whilst achieving all this might be enough for some, it has been the starting point of a dynamic new campaign titled “KEEP CREATIVE ARTS EDUCATION FREE” which highlights how schools are struggling without essential support and financial backing, leaving creative subjects like music and performing arts at risk.

The high cost of crucial resources, from Mac suites to dance studios, has created a severe shortage of funds, threatening the core of creative arts education. The absence of these subjects from mainstream education creates exclusivity, hindering talent development for families who can’t afford private lessons. This has led to a decline in the creative talent pipeline, impacting progression into higher education.

Despite financial constraints, Mia and the BN1 Arts team are committed to providing spaces for young creatives through extracurricular activities in music, dance, and performing arts as well as our industry-led diploma courses.

The campaign is backed by local MP Peter Kyle, (coming to a cabinet near you soon) as well as many powerful voices from the West End, the music industry and has recently received an Arts Council fund to put in to action a project called “Creative Roots”  – particularly focusing on offering free classes in all areas of the arts for young people who can’t afford to attend more traditional routes as well as those who have been sadly let down by society and have dropped out of mainstream education.

BN1 Arts college courses for 16–19-year-olds are funded by the Department of Education and are therefore free at point of entry, however as Mia says: “The funding we receive from the Department for Education covers the basic costs of delivering our Diploma courses…

“But our students need so much more if they are to receive the best industry-led arts education we have to offer them.

“Many FE colleges have closed their courses due to these financial challenges. Some of our students have never experienced professional shows due to high ticket prices. The cost of producing industry standard shows and gigs and providing essential facilities, like drum rooms, sprung floor dance studios and recording facilities is excruciating. With no government funding available for these activities and resources we have self-funded our college so far with bank loans and personal investment.

“We have a thriving industry, and we need to be able to feed it with talented young people.”

It is a common misconception that the arts are somehow of lesser importance than others, such as cyber (remember THAT advert?). However, by the government’s own estimates, the creative industries contribute around £126 billion to the UK economy. That’s more than the car industry, for instance, or aerospace, oil and gas.

Last year there were 3 million jobs in the creative and cultural industries and there could be more. The benefits of studying the creative arts include social skills, creative and innovative thinking, teamwork, self-confidence, and holistic and emotional development and many more.

As Rosie Butler C.O.O says: “The young people that currently attend BN1 Arts are certainly the lucky ones – they are supremely talented musicians, actors and performers. They are ambitious and study here. But what about the rest? What about the young people that don’t find their way to us?”

Mia is asking for financial support for the college, from local businesses and benefactors to enable the development of facilities, such as recording studios, talks and masterclasses from the industry, end-of-term shows and anything else that removes financial and practical barriers for students who want to attend BN1 Arts.

There are many ways to support Mia and her mission, please go to bn1arts.co.uk/supportus for more information, or email admissions@bn1arts.co.uk