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Artsbound takes the stage

Why not give the kids a few treats this year? Take them to see the Leonardo cartoon at the National Gallery, to hear the Halle and to watch the stars of Royal National Theatre. And if you want someone to foot the bill, try the bank that likes to say yes. Under its Artsbound scheme, the TSB is sponsoring three major initiatives designed to give secondary pupils a chance to enjoy the very best of the arts.

First Visit, which has been running since 1995, subsidises transport costs and a one-hour lecture tour for school parties at London's National Gallery. Any secondary school outside the M25 can apply. First Movement, which was inaugurated last year, offers 25 subsidised tickets per school for concerts given by any of the UK's six leading orchestras. Pupils are also given the chance to meet some of the performers, and to attend a workshop. In September, the TSB will launch First Act and sponsor an RNT tour of schools, which will give 350,000 pupils the chance to see a Shakespeare play and to work with the cast.

But that's not all. The three schemes are supported by substantial resource packs which will be valuable even for pupils who don't participate in the visits.

A video provides an enticing introduction to the National Gallery. It focuses on a handful of paintings, but in a way that will inspire any child with an ounce of curiosity to look more closely. For example, did a premonition of his imminent murder prompt Caravaggio to choose a self-portrait for the severed head of John the Baptist? The video is accompanied by reproductions of six of the gallery's best known paintings, detailed notes and worksheets.

First Act adopts a similar approach, as does First Movement, but here the video is replaced by a CD.

The TSB reserves the right to decide which schools are selected to participate. But every school that applies for First Movement and First Act will automatically receive a free resource pack.

Contact Educational Communications, 14-15 Great Pulteney Street, London W1R 3DG (0171 453 4691)

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