Archive for the ‘Agendas and perspectives’ Category

January 13th, 2012

Why should we fund the arts?

This is our 25th year delivering work across Birmingham and the West Midlands.

From a modest start in Balsall Heath at St Paul’s Community Trust, Language Alive! was born. Steve Ball was appointed as a clown to promote language development across 12 schools. Over the next few years the work expanded to include Northfield, Saltley, Nechells and Ladywood with a range of tours and site-specific projects, and the team grew with Local Education Authority-funded teacher/actors.

The 90s gave rise to sister company Catalyst to tap into huge demand for health work. Fortunate timing, because the withdrawal of LEA funding stripped Language Alive! of most of its staff, and saw the company leave St Paul’s, struggling to survive.

But survive it did, and thanks to an Arts Council Lottery Award moved to its present premises above Percy Shurmer Primary School in Highgate in 2000. The Play House was born. The company went from strength to strength, being funded to create a virtual ‘Healthy Living Centre’, delivering a range of innovative and developmental projects through Creative Partnerships, and moving out of the classroom with Extended Schools projects.

But all these initiatives have come to an end. Looking back it says a lot about the cyclical nature of the world we work in. Once again funding is being withdrawn and The Play House, like many other charities across the country, is once again struggling.

But should we rely on funding? What is the value of the arts? Here’s a thought-provoking article from David Edgar about the subject. Make up your own minds.

Deborah H
October 11th, 2011

Dr. Dorothy Heathcote MBE: 29 August 1926 – 8 October 2011

It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of our patron Dorothy Heathcote over the weekend. She was truly a pioneer, leading the way for so many drama and theatre-in-education teachers and practitioners not just in the UK, but globally. Over the years teacher/actors from The Play House have been privileged to work with Dorothy and her influence on the company’s artistic and educational practice has been considerable. She was one of the first people to see the potential of using drama as a learning medium and she developed a methodology and language that still has huge currency today. She continued to work right throughout her life honing her considerable body of theory and practice, and her legacy will live on through theatre-in-education performances in school halls and in drama classrooms across the world.

You can read an obituary from her daughter Marianne Heathcote Woodbridge here. This includes details of Dorothy Heathcote’s Life Celebration. For those interested in attending please RSVP by email or post to

For those who knew her work and want to see it again and for those who never got to experience it first hand, have a look at Three Looms Waiting – BBC TV’s 1971 Omnibus profile of her work:

December 2nd, 2010

Changing the paradigm

Sir Ken Robinson PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. ‘All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education’ (The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999.

This fascinating short film outlines his perspective of education today, his vision, and what he sees as some potential ways forward.