Dip a toe into the ideas pool

3rd January 2003 at 00:00
How to keep an ICT-literate generation connected to live performance? There's a chance to join the debate at a conference later this month. Heather Neill reports and selects more highlights

Tomorrow's audiences

Lord Puttnam, Baroness Blackstone and representatives from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare's Globe, the Royal Opera House and Birmingham Royal Ballet will be among the speakers at a one-day conference, Inspiring Tomorrow's Audiences, later this month.

Run by the organisers of the website arts4schools, the conference will provide a forum for headteachers, specialists in arts, English and ICT, policy-makers and delegates from leading arts organisations, LEAs, libraries and national associations to pool information and enthusiasm about arts education and the role of ICT in its future.

Maria Evans, an experienced teacher, former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company's education team and arts4schools co-founder, says the website was set up to fill a gap she had noticed in her earlier roles. "I wanted to make the resources of arts organisations more accessible to students and to support arts educators and bring them up to speed on internet development," she says.

"Schools have had ICT training; arts organisations less so. The conference is to bring these groups together. We must take notice of where young people are - they're online, texting - and we must capitalise on that."

A panel of students at the conference will put the young person's point of view.

Patrick Spottiswoode, head of education at Shakespeare's Globe, one of the organisations that has signed up to arts4schools, and a speaker at the conference, says the website is "a shop window where students and teachers can see at a glance performances, workshops and how to get involved".

Juliet Mortimer of Salisbury Playhouse says it is useful to be able to post resources on the web rather than send out packages to schools by post.

And as for the conference, she adds: "Human contact has not yet lost its place."

Emma Bell, a teacher at Queen Mary high school for girls in Walsall, says lesson suggestions from the website have provided a springboard for ideas. Her only criticism - like that of Niasia Wziatek-Walsh, a PGCE student specialising in dance in Liverpool - is that many of the events mentioned are in London. This may change as more arts venues sign up.

Lord Puttnam, long an advocate of ICT in education, says: "According to the literacy and numeracy statistics, around 15 per cent of our children are insufficiently inspired by conventional teaching methods. I want to explore fresh ways of encouraging a love of learning in those young people by, among other things, a deeper engagement with the arts."

Inspiring Tomorrow's Audiences, sponsored by The TES, will take place on January 20 at the Bloomsbury Theatre, central London. Information and booking: www.arts4schools.comevents.

Musical ahoy!

Set sail with the Royal National Theatre's glorious escapist production of Cole Porter's Anything Goes. Trevor Nunn directs a cast with enough energy to power a transatlantic liner, the setting for this light-hearted tale of star-crossed lovers and criminals on the run.

Sally Ann Triplett as Reno Sweeney, "an evangelist turned nightclub singer", manages to belt out her numbers - including the title song, "You're the Top" and "I Get a Kick Out of You" - while being simultaneously charming and funny. Individual performances are universally excellent, while the company numbers, with their stunning Thirties costumes, witty choreography and twinkling tap sequences, are sensational. Tickets: 020 7452 3000.

On message

Another aspect of the Thirties is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Propaganda posters - satirical, ideological or incendiary - from many of the important conflicts of the 20th century, including the Second World War, Vietnam War and the 1968 Paris demonstrations, make up an exhibition in the Henry Cole Wing. Until March 23. Information: 020 7942 2000; www.vam.ac.uk.

Toys on stage

The Bristol Old Vic is continuing its tradition of presenting new plays for very young audiences. Four Toys in a Tent is Toby Hulse's third play for three to seven-year-olds in the No Loud Bangs series. Jake, Giraffe, Peggy, Clown and guitar-playing Rabbit set off on a trip to the countryside.

The series has a growing following, and each play has become a little more sophisticated as the audience learns about theatre. Tickets: 0117 9877877.

Constable country

The Millennium Galleries in Sheffield will stage a major exhibition, Constable: a breath of fresh air, from February 8, focusing on this popular, innovative British landscape painter. Information: 0114 2782600; www.sheffieldgalleries.org.uk.

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