NLA hosts inaugural Arts Festival

Last week NLA hosted its inaugural Arts Festival, providing an inspiring and informative environment for students to find out more about careers in the arts. The success of the evening means it’s now destined to become an annual event.

Miss Wheeler is the Curriculum Leader for Music and says: “The festival is designed to promote careers in the arts – in music, drama, dance and art – within our local community. It’s aimed at our Key Stage 4 students, to raise their aspirations and get them to think about future careers.

“The arts are traditionally very strong in North Liverpool and we want to show our students a way in to those professions. Our curriculum is well rounded and includes arts and performing arts, with a wide range of extra curricular activities. Those skills not only lead to exciting careers in the arts, but foster confidence and resilience and build skills like teamwork in our students.”   

The evening opened with performances from North Liverpool Academy samba band and NLA Voices choir, singing an a Capella version of Oh Happy Day, and the school’s dance group.

Author Mari Hughes-Edwards, who runs the community organisation Art Does Not Get You A Job, was the night’s keynote speaker. She took to the stage, telling students to follow their dreams, and asked parents to support them. “The idea of your children becoming an artist or a musician or a dancer or a TV pundit might seem like an impossible dream,” she said. “But say ‘yes’ – help their dreams come true. And if you have a dream yourself, pay close attention to it – believe in it and yourselves.”

She said her work was influenced by the broadcaster John Humphrys, and his notorious ‘art won’t get you a job’ quote. “Yes it does! And I’m going to prove it,” she told the audience, adding that her organisation currently works alongside theatre and costume designers, designers creating the pound coin logo, teams planting beautiful new gardens – and artists painting those gardens.

Student Emily is a keen artist and musician, and had some of her work on display in the art exhibition. She talked about her ‘Art of Science’ crossover project and how she developed her idea around trees being the ‘lungs of the earth’ and helping us breathe.

Sarah from UCLAN was one of a group of industry exhibitors, spending the evening at the Academy talking to pre-16 students about university. “It’s up to us to take the blinkers off,” she says. “To show them what they can aspire to, including stories from current students who went to NLA. We’re here to make them aware of the next steps; entry requirements, facilities and where we are – to make sure that aspiration is reachable for them.”

Amongst the later performances was a set from the school’s ukulele group and a range of practical workshops including vocal and drama groups and a session teaching students how to take photographs. A busy evening ended with NLA orchestra playing Greig’s In the Hall of the Mountain King and My heart is in Havana – and a very proud group of students, parents and teachers.