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Archives for October 2012

Think IdeasTap, Think help for emerging talent

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Genny Cotroneo | 14:35 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2012

We get a lot of questions about where else you can find funding opportunities outside of the BBC Performing Arts Fund, so we thought we'd invite our friends at IdeasTap to introduce themselves and give you a bit of in insight into the support they can offer emerging talent.

"IdeasTap is an arts charity set up to help young, creative people at the start of their careers. Whether it’s funding, career development, advice or creative collaborators you need, we can help – whatever field you work in.


The IdeasTap logo

We help in a number of ways:
•    We offer funding
•    We let you know about opportunities we have on offer
•    We keep you posted on any jobs in the arts
•    Through our online magazine, IdeasMag, we offer advice

We try to make the application process for our fund and opportunities (such as live briefs and showcasing opportunities) as simple as possible. You can find out more about how we judge our briefs here.

We also offer a number of different bursaries through our funding stream IdeasFund. They look like this:

Ideas Fund Innovators
Open all year, with four deadlines for submissions, this Fund offers £1,000 awards for projects from any creative discipline. In the past we’ve funded everything from performances to photography collectives, visual artists to filmmakers.

Ideas Fund Edinburgh
Normally open for six weeks from October, the Edinburgh award provides two winning companies with £10,000 each, along with expert mentoring, to take a show to the world’s largest arts festival. For the last two years, Ideas Fund Edinburgh winners have gone on to secure Fringe First awards for their productions.

Ideas Fund Shorts
Open for six weeks from February, Shorts offers young filmmakers £5,000 to create a five-minute short film. Entries this year included documentaries, conceptual pieces, trailers for features, music videos, fashion films and animated shorts.

Top Up Fund
The Top Up Fund is managed by a changing panel of IdeasTap members, who decide the theme and award the funding. This Fund offers 20 projects a £500 cash injection, based on a particular theme.

In addition to the funding outlined above, we also partner with Sky Arts to offer the Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund. The fund aims to help five young artists (aged 18-30) to take their creative practice to the next level through £30,000 each and expert mentoring. It’s currently open to the following categories:

• Performing arts: theatre-makers including playwrights, spoken word artists, directors, puppeteers and live artists
• Dance: dancers and choreographers
• Music: musicians, composers, songwriters and conductors
• Visual art: fine artists, sculptors, photographers, animators and video artists
• Creative producing: do you bring together disparate parts of culture in exciting and innovative ways? This category is open to creative producers working in visual arts, theatre, film and performance/dance.

For further information on the Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund visit

Membership is free and only takes a couple of minutes to sign up. So you see, there are loads of reasons why you should visit us and keep an eye on what we are up to".

The Community Music scheme results are in!

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Genny Cotroneo | 10:02 UK time, Wednesday, 24 October 2012

We are absolutely thrilled to tell you that the BBC Performing Arts Fund is awarding over £250,000 to groups across the UK through its Community Music scheme!

the ladies from the Fireflies Choir smiling in celebration of their grant

Fireflies Choir

Grants of up to £10,000 have been awarded to 47 not-for-profit groups in order to develop the talent within the group, encourage new members, produce workshops and projects that bring them closer with their communities and raise their profile. The scheme has encouraged groups to take on more challenging projects through commissions and working collaboratively with other local organisations as well as professional artists.

The successful groups were able to demonstrate that their projects were challenging and ambitious yet achievable, that their project would develop the group and its members, and that the group would collaborate with and have an impact on the wider community. From producing a programme of workshops for marginalised youth throughout Manchester to inviting a drumming expert from Africa to the Shetland Isles for intensive tuition – the projects are as diverse in idea as they are in location.

The Aestaewast drumming group perfoming on stage

The Aestaewast drumming group, image by Monika Parzcyh

Miriam O'Keeffe, Director of the Performing Arts Fund, said: “We are delighted to be providing an avenue for these projects to flourish. The passion these groups have for music is inspiring. The range, not only in the types of groups but also in the spread of ages, shows us that music really is for everybody.”


The back of a small child in traditional Chinese dress holding his instument as he plays along with the rest of the orchestra.

Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra, image by Indigenous Design & Photography Ltd

How will the Performing Arts Fund grants help these community groups? We’ll let some of the successful groups tell you for themselves:

"The support from the BBC Performing Arts Fund will enable us not only to stage a concert for some of the most vulnerable people in our community, but to develop the skills within our Choir to provide a lasting resource for the future…ReSound Community Choir, and the future audiences of West Lancashire, would like to say a big thank you!" 

ReSound Community Choir, Lancashire

“…for the vast majority of our participants this will be a totally new experience - it will result in a lasting memory for the performers and have a really positive effect on music making throughout the local community.” 
Dacorum Community Choir, Herts

“We now look forward to getting on with our project and producing a dynamic and tangible illustration of the enabling benefits that the Performing Arts Fund can bring to local communities and society in general.” 
Voicemale Men's Choir, Northumberland

To see the full press release please visit the BBC Press Office website and you can download a list of all the winners here. To keep updated on the activity by the groups, join us on Twitter & Facebook and don't forget to sign up for our Newsletter.

Congratulations to all the groups and break a leg! We can’t wait to see the finished projects as they come together in 2013.

From Broadway to Hollywood

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Genny Cotroneo | 16:47 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2012

On Friday 19th October, BBC Radio 2 broadcasted a special Friday Night is Music Night with musical theatre as the central theme. A fitting backdrop for Training in Musical Theatre 2011 beneficiary, Emily Dunn, who was given the chance to perform a solo piece. So what’s it like to get ready for radio?

Emily Dunn with an orchestra pit in the background
My Friday Night is Music Night experience - by Emily Dunn

“Waiting expectantly in the wings, I took a deep breath to calm myself before I walked onto the stage. In some respects it seemed the enormity of what I was about to do had only just hit me. In about 30 seconds I would be singing live on Radio 2 with the BBC concert orchestra. I would be watched by a 500-strong audience and, more than that, heard by an estimated 600,000 radio listeners. I thought back to the beginning of this whole process and how extremely lucky I was to be there and to be given this amazing opportunity. But before I had to time to dwell on it, I heard Michael Ball announce, “Here’s the song that Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber wrote for Mary Magdalene, and it’s sung this evening for us… by Emily Dunn…”

The Audition
In May, we were told that our school - Arts Educational Schools London - was to take part in a very special and exciting live broadcast of BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night (FNIMN) Our director of Musical Theatre, Chris Hocking, told us that the entire year would participate as an ensemble, and there would also be parts available for soloists. I remember his words vividly, “To be a soloist you will need to have “nerves of steel!” (I’d always thought that I worked well under pressure but, as I’d never done anything like this before, I wondered if a live radio broadcast would change this). I had to admit, I wasn’t that familiar with the programme- so I went straight home that night to research it. I was surprised to find that FNIMN is the ‘world’s longest running orchestral live music programme on radio,’ which features the highly acclaimed BBC concert orchestra. Armed with this knowledge, I was delighted to find that I had been selected to audition for a solo in front of the BBC panel - Executive Producer Anthony Cherry and Co-Producer Ruth Beazley.

On the day of the auditions the panel was incredibly friendly and supportive and I left feeling that, even if I weren’t to be chosen as a soloist, it was a wonderful experience (although that didn’t stop me from feeling the gut-wrenching uncertainty that comes after an audition!) A week later I was put out of my misery with the fantastic news that I was to be one of 13 soloists.

I instantly set about working on my two songs- a duet with Robin Lake, ‘You are my Lucky Star’ from the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain and the famous solo, ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him,’ from Jesus Christ Superstar. I rehearsed intensively for the next few weeks with singing teacher Ann James and Head of Music Dane Preece on my material- working particularly on the low vocal ranges which both songs covered. I worked particularly on my solo, trying to create my own interpretation of this well-known song. The BBC producers and MD Richard Balcombe came in to help all the soloists, giving us tremendous support and invaluable advice for coping specifically with Radio singing. Their tips included, when singing a high or loud note, pulling the microphone sharply away from your mouth ‘diva-style’ is a big Radio ‘no-no’! 

Masterclass with Michael Ball
With only a couple of weeks to go, we were given the exciting news- our programme was to be fronted and presented by none other than West-End legend Michael Ball! So, in the last week of rehearsals, he came in to Arts Ed give the soloists a masterclass in performance and radio technique. It was an event for which we all eagerly awaited! He was extremely friendly and encouraging, giving us all lots of vital advice; from radio techniques like how to handle a microphone without creating distracting noise, to avoiding  looking into “musical theatre middle distance” (staring into space) while performing. As the countdown to the big day began, my excitement and anticipation grew even further. I’d already had so many fantastic experiences- auditioning for a BBC panel, performing in front of Michael Ball- and we hadn’t yet made it to the performance!   

Friday Night
The day of the broadcast had arrived, and I was a bundle of nerves, excitement and anticipation. After becoming initially dumbstruck by the awesome sound produced by the BBC orchestra, I knew I had to focus my attention on the task at hand. I was prepared and ready to perform. We’d rehearsed with the orchestra and Arts Ed ensemble for the past couple of days, and now the audience was beginning to fill the Mermaid theatre. Sitting on-stage, we were tuned into the 8 o’clock news on Radio 2-and then it all began.

Producer Anthony Cherry told us all that the performance would go by in a flash- and he was right. Before I knew it the FNIMN theme tune had been played, the programme had begun and, all too quickly, it was my turn to sing.   

After I’d sung the first few notes of my song, I felt like everything was going to be ok, and I could relax and enjoy it. As clichéd as it might sound, it really was the best experience of my life. Thinking back on it now, I feel so proud of myself and all my classmates and what we had achieved. This whole experience made me realise just how essential and beneficial my training at Arts Ed has been- without which I wouldn’t have had the technical skill and confidence to sing on live radio. I would also like to thank the BBC Performing Arts Fund for all they have done to support my training for the past couple of years. If I could give any advice to anyone currently auditioning for musical theatre schools or perhaps trying to raise money to fund their place, it would be to absolutely keep going.  The training and experiences you get (like FNIMN) make it completely worth it in the end.”

Emily Dunn was awarded with £1500 towards her training at Arts Educational Schools London as part of the 2011 Training in Musical Theatre scheme. More information about the scheme can be found here.

A summer of new music with BBC Introducing

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Genny Cotroneo | 13:18 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The summer of 2012 (almost a distant memory already) was jam packed with ambitious activity and cultural inspiration. One of the biggest projects for the BBC in 2012 was the Radio 1 Hackney weekend and BBC Introducing were there with their stage doing what they do best – showcasing undiscovered talent. Tom Young, Content Producer for their website, gives us a summary of this amazing weekend and what BBC Introducing is all about.



"The end of the UK festival season provides a good opportunity for BBC Introducing to reflect on another busy summer. We’ve taken our stage to Hackney Weekend, T in the Park, Manchester Jazz Festival, London Mela and Reading & Leeds festival with a huge range of artists getting exposure to some very passionate crowds.

I’ve only been in role of Content Producer for BBC Introducing for five months so it’s been a fantastic insight into the enthusiasm, drive and determination of all the artists involved with our stages and festivals.  At T in the Park, local band Fatherson were handing out flyers informing the crowds of their stage time while Vigo Thieves went one better with a huge banner draped over a flyover across the M90. Following Reading & Leeds Festival, Proxies and Park Bench Society remain our two most shared acts of the festival (above Green Day and All Time Low) – testament to their dedicated fans and their abilities to generate an online buzz. These bands, singers and DJs work tirelessly to keep themselves in the spotlight.

Hackney was particularly special. We had worked with local supporters of new music including Rising Tide, Urban Development, Land of Kings Festival, Bigga Fish and Eat Your Own Ears, to give the local talent of East London the chance to play on the same bill as Jay-Z, Rihanna, Calvin Harris and many more. For most, it was the largest stage they had played and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few nerves showing through backstage. I managed to sneak out to watch Kersha Bailey’s headline set on Sunday (I spend most of my time trying to get videos and photos online as quickly as possible) and was asked who it was on stage by a lady in the crowd. She took a note of Kersha’s name and I’d like to think put it into Google later. 

We’ve loads of highlights from this summer on our website and on YouTube that’ll be around for time to come. Have a watch and hopefully it’ll serve as inspiration in keeping with the BBC Performing Arts Fund’s focus on music this year. We’re always asked about how our BBC Introducing acts are chosen and there’s some helpful information on the site and within our blog. The first place to start is with our Uploader tool, where you can upload your best tracks for our local shows across the country to listen to. You can find us on Twitter too and we're always up for a chat."

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