Government launches £600,000 arts bursaries pilot

Natalie Woolman

Graduates from deprived backgrounds will be able to apply for paid internships with established arts companies from this summer, as part of a £600,000 government pilot scheme launched today.

The Creative Bursaries Scheme aims to provide at least 40 internships of up to a year with arts organisations to graduates who would not be able to put themselves through training or unpaid internships. The graduates will each be paid a bursary at the rate £15,000 per annum.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England have put up the funding for the scheme, which is due to start in September this year. The Jerwood Foundation will manage the programme.

Culture minister Margaret Hodge said the scheme has been her “obsession” and that she has been thinking about it since she came into post as arts and culture minister.

It is hoped that the bursaries will become a long-term scheme following an evaluation of the two-year pilot. Hodge said: “What will success look like? How well these young people are doing. Does it really help them break through?”

Prime minister Gordon Brown spoke about the new bursary scheme at a Downing Street event to mark the fifth anniversary of Billy Elliot the Musical earlier today.

He said: “It is a vital boost for some of our great future actors, artists and musicians who may otherwise have slipped through the net.”

Through the scheme, a minimum of 20 internships will be available in the first and second year of the pilot. Graduates wishing to work in both creative and managerial roles in arts organisations will be eligible for the scheme to gain experience in their first year after university.

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