The BPI unveils plans for a new specialist creative school to widen the talent pipeline and expand opportunity across the UK

The BPI unveils plans for a new specialist creative school to widen the talent pipeline and expand opportunity across the UK

Date published: 04/02/2023

The BPI, the representative voice for independent and major record labels across the UK, has unveiled proposals to launch a specialist creative school in the North of England.

‘BRIT School North’, as it is provisionally titled, is inspired by the successful model of the BRIT School in Croydon, which is free to attend and since opening its doors more than three decades ago, has established a reputation as a world-leading centre for educating and nurturing creative talent. 

The BPI has submitted a bid to the Department for Education’s highly competitive free school funding process, ‘Wave-15’, to open a specialist 16-19 college in the centre of Bradford. The school is designed to provide a unique option for students across West Yorkshire and the wider region, by offering an opportunity to study in an immersive environment solely dedicated to the creative learning experience. The vocational curriculum is expected to offer both performance and skills-based subjects across music, theatre, digital design and production arts. The school will be aimed at young people looking to pursue a career in the creative sector, and the BPI knows from its experience that this type of educational setting produces the best talent possible for the UK’s world leading creative industries. If approved, the school will be one of only 15 to be granted funding through this round and would be on a projected course to open in 2026.

It has long been the ambition of the BPI and its members to create a specialist creative school outside of London and the South East of England, drawing on the success and experiences of the existing school and further delivering on a strong commitment to make the music industry and the wider creative industries more inclusive and accessible for all – regardless of background. This project sees collaboration between the BPI, the three major record companies – Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music; the BRIT School; and the Day One Trust – which runs specialist creative schools, East London Arts & Music (ELAM) and the London Screen Academy (LSA). These and other partnerships will ensure the school has direct links into the wider creative industries locally, nationally and globally, ensuring the curriculum is drawing on best practice and offering students experiences that may not otherwise be available. The three major record labels will also be contributing an initial amount of additional funding towards to the school, which is expected to be used to fund the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment.

Bradford was selected following extensive work to assess a location for the school that both delivers on ambitions to level-up creative opportunity for underserved young people and provides the right conditions for this specialist proposal. Bradford has a budding creative economy and has been awarded City of Culture 2025. If approved, the school will help to deliver on the legacy commitment of the City of Culture status and contribute to Bradford’s 10-year cultural strategy, which places the creative industries at the heart of their economy. The proposals also have the support of West Yorkshire’s devolved Mayor, Tracy Brabin, who recognises that, if approved, the school will have a broader impact in the region – being open to young people from across West Yorkshire and beyond to attend.

Speaking about the decision to submit a proposal, Chair of the BPI, YolanDa Brown OBE DL said: 

“We are incredibly proud of our track record in promoting and funding specialist creative education and this application reflects our ambition to extend this even further across the UK. The creative industries are a powerful force for social mobility, providing opportunities based on ability and talent. We look forward to building upon the proven success of this model to give a greater number of young people from across the North of England an opportunity to pursue a career in the creative industries – both on stage and behind the scenes.

“Bradford already has a wonderfully vibrant cultural and creative scene. We are very excited about the benefits of this partnership and how we can contribute to Bradford’s ambitions, but also how this school can continue our work to diversify our talent pipeline by ‘levelling-up’ opportunity, both geographically and socio-economically.”

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin said:

“West Yorkshire is the place to be when it comes to culture and creativity –  now so more than ever as we draw closer to Bradford’s year in the spotlight as the UK’s City of Culture 2025.

“With vibrant musical venues in abundance, and even more in the pipeline, our region is well and truly cementing its place on the world stage as a creative and cultural hotspot. With EMI North recently making the decision to invest in West Yorkshire, it goes to show that we’re already punching well above our cultural weight.

“So, while it’s no surprise, I’m thrilled that Bradford has been selected as the preferred location for this new school – what an incredible opportunity it would provide for the talented young people of our region and beyond!”

Lisa Mallaghan, Director, Bradford Producing Hub said:

“As one of the leading talent development organisations in Bradford, and cultural capacity partner to Bradford City of Culture, Bradford Producing Hub are delighted to hear the news that a new specialist creative school modelled on the BRIT School might be opening in Bradford. 

“It would bring a huge boost to the local creative education offer and provide access to top quality training opportunities for our talented young performing artists and creatives.

“We hope to work alongside them to showcase talent and fast-track the careers of our young people!”

Jordon Scott Kennedy, Programming and Engagement Producer of The Unit said:

“We are very excited by these proposals. The films I’ve made recently in Bradford have taught me that the city is a hotbed of raw, creative talent but talent that needs more creative opportunities for young people.

“As part of The Unit team - backed by Channel 4, Bradford Council, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Impact Hub Bradford, Keighley Creative and West Yorkshire Combined Authority - we’ve sought to create a home for the filmmaker community across the district and also create those opportunities.

“The Unit believes that this new specialist school based on the very successful BRIT School could help bring new talents to our community and also the practical opportunities they deserve to further develop their skills and share Bradford’s culture with the world.”