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Parliamentarians Discuss Plans For New BRIT-Style School Music Base In The North

MPs and Peers from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music heard from the BPI about their proposal for a new specialist school in Bradford, based on the BRIT School model.

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31.03.2023: MPs and Peers from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music heard from the BPI about their proposal for a new specialist school in Bradford, based on the BRIT School model.

Chaired by Kevin Brennan MP, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Music met on Monday, March 27. The group received a presentation and took part in a Q&A with representatives from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the UK’s trade body for the recorded music industry. 

Sophie Jones, BPI’s Chief Strategy Officer and Interim Chief Executive, opened with an overview of BPI and its history in the creation of the BRIT Trust. She highlighted the important role record labels play in the UK’s music industry through fostering, discovering and nurturing new talent, investing in the creation of music and supporting the music talent pipeline, which is increasingly important in the current, competitive global music market. 

Sophie explained the BPI’s involvement in the creation of the BRIT School in Croydon, a specialist creative school for 14-19-year-olds and the industry’s active role in East London Arts & Music (ELAM), a creative arts college in Bow for 16–19-year-olds. The BRIT School is well known for its impressive roll call of alumni including Adele, Tom Holland and Cat Burns.

Beth Sidwell, Senior Public Affairs Manager at BPI, gave an overview of the proposal for a new specialist creative school, which has been submitted to the Department for Education (DfE). It will take the experiences of the BRIT School and ELAM, which provide vocational education through an immersive environment focused on industry practice and cross-disciplinary working, and tailor this to Bradford. 

Beth explained that it has long been the ambition of BPI to launch a specialist creative school outside of London and the South East to offer opportunity to a broader range of young people. Bradford was the ideal location for this proposal with its budding creative economy and good travel links to the rest of the North, as well as its recent award of City of Culture status for 2025.

The bid has the full support of the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin who has a wider vision for the creative industries in the region. It’s also attracted wider praise from homegrown talent in Bradford such as popstar Zayn Malik, producer, singer and songwriter Nia Archives and BRIT-nominated rap group Bad Boy Chiller Crew. 

Eshan Gopal, an alumnus of ELAM shared his first-hand experience of being a pupil of a specialist creative school. He discussed the vibrant and dynamic projects he got to work on, which could range from a sync lesson learning about royalties, to producing a R&B track, to a marketing lesson about branding. His experience at ELAM helped him secure a role working at BPI and his creative work since graduating has led to exciting opportunities including featuring in an advert for Samsung directed by Ridley Scott (here).

The presentation was followed by a Q&A with the MPs and Peers in the room, where questions centred around the criteria of success from the DfE, the history of Bradford, funding and building options and thoughts around how easy it would be to recruit students and teachers.

During the meeting UK Music also gave an update on current policy priorities, including the lobbying being done around cuts to BBC singers and orchestras, a potential text and data mining exception for artificial intelligence, US visas, a music manifesto, plus some events for the year ahead.

The meeting was attended by Chair of the APPG on Music Kevin Brennan MP, Christina Rees MP, Jeff Smith MP, Eddie Hughes MP, Lord Aberdare, the Earl of Clancarty plus representatives from the office of Pete Wishart MP, the Ivors Academy and PRS for Music. 

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