Widening Access to the Arts in the North East

This year the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland joined in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council to bring high quality performing arts education to the north east – opening up a world of opportunity for people interested in the creative industries.

Linda Robertson discovers how RCS is working hard to widen access to the performing arts.

Thirty actors, a troupe of traditional musicians and a sound and lighting crew travelling along the coast from Banff to Fraserburgh; the Rovin’ Tales pop-up performances certainly made their mark on Scotland’s north east this August.

This joyful journey of live music and performance travelled across the four coastal towns of Banff, Macduff, Peterhead and Fraserburgh to celebrate the arrival of world-class performing arts training in Aberdeenshire.

The pop-up event Rovin’ Tales officially launched the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland North East Arts Hub (RCS North East Arts Hub), a partnership between RCS and Aberdeenshire Council, offering a range of programmes for all ages including traditional music, composition, drama, filmmaking and choir groups.

“The RCS North East Arts Hub is an exciting new initiative which enables us to work collaboratively to put creativity and arts education at the centre of local communities, as well as identifying and helping to develop the next generation of performing artists and cultural leaders from across Scotland,” says Principal, Professor Jeffrey Sharkey.

Councillor Anne Stirling, Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee chair, says: “We are proud to be working with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on the North East Arts Hub, an exciting and innovative project, which will give young people fantastic experiences. It will give them the chance to develop their performing and production skills under the supervision of world-class musicians and tutors.”

As a Junior Conservatoire graduate himself, and a leading violinist and educator, Francis Cummings, the Head of the Junior Conservatoire of Music, knows the importance that access to arts plays in shaping and enriching lives.

“Playing an instrument is a joy and it’s an opportunity that should be given to every young person.”

Awakening a young person to music and the arts, and watching them develop their creativity, is wonderful to watch.

Francis Cummings

Head of the Junior Conservatoire of Music

“It’s vital to be able to provide the opportunities for young people to experience music making and enable them to progress.”

The initiative is a commitment to ensuring as many people as possible across Scotland have access to performing arts education and, so far, 70 young people from Aberdeenshire and beyond have taken part in arts projects. Abbie Clark, who plays the fiddle, took part in traditional music workshops and was part of the Rovin’ Tales cast.

“I liked composing music in the workshops and think I’m more confident when playing,” she says.

“I really enjoyed Rovin’ Tales and loved performing with the music group and it was interesting to watch the drama students perform while we played.”

“The RCS North East Arts Hub is really fun and you learn lots. When I’m older, I would love to make music my job and I hope RCS can help me do this.”

Jesse Paul, Fair Access Manager at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, says: “It was wonderful to witness the creative journeys of everyone involved in the Hub workshops and Rovin’ Tales. Participants, who were aged from 10 to 71, worked incredibly hard and with such enthusiasm and commitment. We are all very proud of what they have accomplished.”

RCS North East Arts Hub Co-ordinator, Claudia Smith, adds: “It was fantastic to see like-minded and talented young people come together from different parts of the region, work collaboratively across arts forms and create bonds that have lasted beyond the week.

“The positivity and warm-heartedness at the launch, and in feedback we’ve received, reinforces the value of this project to the north east community.”

Encompassing the areas of Banff, Macduff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead, the RCS North East Arts Hub is not rooted in any one town or venue, but is an Aberdeenshire-wide initiative. It’s funded in partnership by the Royal Conservatoire, Aberdeenshire Council, the Royal Conservatoire’s Transitions programme and Creative Scotland.

Following the success of this initiative, a Junior Conservatoire programme in Acting was then launched in Aberdeenshire in September. This is another opportunity which offers intensive, weekly tuition for talented and committed young people who aspire to develop their skills and work towards full-time study in the performing arts.

“The Junior Conservatoire offers young people their first taste of arts education and allows them to fulfil their artistic potential, develop essential life skills and explore a world of possibilities within the arts and far beyond,” says Principal Sharkey.

“I look forward to seeing more performing arts – and young people – flourish across the north east.”


Find out more about the RCS North East Arts Hub by visiting rcs.ac.uk/fraserburgh

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