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 Once again funding is being withdrawn and The Play House, like many other charities across the country, is once again struggling.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.


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