Funding fears for arts project

Students from Friesland school, Sandiacre put on a film made about a care home.
Students from Friesland school, Sandiacre put on a film made about a care home.

PUPILS and staff at a Sandiacre school fear a successful project to help struggling students could be axed following Government cuts to funding.

Dozens gathered at Friesland School’s performing arts building on Friday to see the premiere of a film, which 15 Year 8 students had made about the lives of the residents of neighbouring Grange care home.

The two-month project was made possible by the work of East Midlands-based children’s development agency The Mighty Creatives, which is set to have its £3.5m-a-year funding from the Arts Council slashed to £1m.

According to staff, this could be the last time the project goes ahead as the group spent £3,000 on it, which for future years would have to be cut to £1,000.

Teacher Jonathon Cleaver said that the students were picked to take part in the project because they were struggling academically or had behavioural problems and it had really helped them at school.

He said: “It would be a real shame if this can’t go ahead again. They have worked so hard.”

The students each interviewed an elderly care home resident and then used skills they learnt over the past two months to operate professional equipment to make the documentary Across The Great Divide, about the lives of the elderly residents.

Ami Long, 13, sang for the care home residents before the screening. She said: “I have become a part of their lives and that has made me feel really special.

“I feel like I’m better at communicating with people now.

“It wouldn’t be good if the funding stopped – it’s been a lot of fun and other students should get the chance to experience it.”

Jodi Cresswell, from The Mighty Creatives, worked with the children during the project. She said: “We come in to schools and help develop the kids and make the curriculum more creative. If that funding were to go away, it’s frightening.”

But chief executive Richard Clark said he is ‘optimistic’ projects like this would continue.

“The way of working will change,” he said. “What we get a chance to do now is work out how we build new opportunities without that kind of funding. We have just got to be smarter.”