Here's a sample of some of the arts organisations in Stoke....
Q: What was the first live music gig/concert you went to?
Lesley: Wet, Wet, Wet
Jenny: My first classical concert was in the early 80’s when I went to see Anna Markland play the piano. She had just won Young Musician of the Year and was a total inspiration to the 9 year old me. My first gig back in 1990 was seeing EMF in Liverpool, it was ‘unbelievable’….
Q: If you were in a film or story, which character would you like to be?
Lesley: Baby - Dirty Dancing
Jenny: If I was in a film or story I would be Tonks from the Harry Potter series. I love the magical world that JK Rowling created and would have loved to have attended Hogwarts.
Q: Quick fire questions: choose one option for each quick fire question. Would you prefer to…
Dance or watch TV? Lesley: Watch TV; Jenny: As I have two left feet I would have to choose TV
Art gallery or cinema? Lesley: Cinema; Jenny: Depends on what is on at the cinema!
Be in a performance or be in the audience? Lesley: Audience these days, but used to be performance; Jenny: I’m terrible at being in the audience, would much rather be in the performance.
What is your favourite arts activity to do ?
Lesley: West End Theatre
Jenny: My favourite arts activity is music, and I am lucky that I have turned what was a hobby into my career. I am a music teacher but love playing in bands and orchestras in my spare time, and have really missed making music with others during Covid.
We asked Lesley Gill - arts lead for Staffordshire Virtual School - and Jenny Mawdsley - arts lead for Stoke Virtual School - about their arts interests:
Meet your Virtual Schools' Arts Champions
What does your Virtual School believe that ARTS (music, dance, drama, art, literature, digital, etc) and CULTURE (museums, libraries, historic places of interest etc) offer your young people?
Arts and culture offer young people a change to explore and discover new things. Visiting arts and cultural venues can inspire the next generation of creatives and we are so lucky in Stoke-on Trent to have so much choice on our doorstep.
Participating in arts activities is great fun of course but also helps young people to develop other skills (Self-confidence, team working, resilience, communication to name but a few) as well as being able to express themselves as individuals.
Arts and culture have also been shown to improve mental health and wellbeing. By participating in group activities young people can meet like-minded new friends and develop their social skills and self-esteem.
Describe / list your Virtual School’s local arts and cultural offer
The virtual school works regularly with a number of partners and recent offers have included a singing and songwriting project, an opportunity to gain Art Award ‘Discover’ during the summer holidays and an ‘Online Pantomime’ last Christmas. Currently all pupils from Y4-6 are able to learn a musical instrument of their choice with Stoke-on-Trent City Music Service.
Please describe any particularly effective or successful partnerships and projects that you currently have/previously have had.
The virtual school has recently developed a partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Music Service. In September 2021 we will have pupils from Year 4 to Year 6 learning a musical instrument of their choice free of charge. They each receive a 30 minute instrumental lesson (either on their own or with friends, whichever they choose) and are lent a high quality instrument. They also have the opportunity to join a City Music Ensemble and to participate in concerts and workshops. During lockdown pupils were able to continue lessons online.
What local arts events or venues are you personally looking forward to visiting once they open after the latest lockdown?
I am looking forward to being able to go to the theatre again. The New Vic has had a refurbishment over lockdown and I am excited to see how it looks.
I love going to festivals in my campervan and am looking forward to hearing live music over the summer.
During lockdown I watched The Great Pottery Throwdown, so the Gladstone Pottery Museum is on my to do list for the Summer holidays.