Britannia Row Productions Training (BRPT) has been awarded £152,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) announced by the Culture Secretary to help face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future.
Britannia Row Productions Training is one of 2,049 cultural and creative organisations across the country to have been awarded £409m of urgently needed support (up to 24th October 2020). The Culture Recovery Fund grants programme is being administered by the Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.
BRPT was founded in 2012 to provide holistic training for those wanting to enter the live events industry as live audio technicians. Courses available from colleges and universities are not targeted enough for this niche sector, making it hard for graduates to enter the workplace as invariably a certain amount of re-training is required. Furthermore, these institutions tend to lag behind with teaching the latest technologies, equipment and working practices.
All BRPT training courses are written, kept up-to-date and delivered by tutors who are industry practitioners working at the top tier of the industry. BRPT has developed and offered a range of courses which have allowed for part-time study through to intensive full-time courses and a 3-year BSc Hons degree.
BRPT students book onto its courses for a variety of reasons. Some already make a living from live audio and simply want to increase their knowledge in certain areas. The motivation for most students is to be enabled to enter the industry. BRPT has seen hundreds of its graduates secure their first jobs in the industry, with many more rising quickly to senior roles.
In March 2020, the Company’s training activities were, and have remained, suspended due to the restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Being awarded a Culture Recovery Grant, BRPT now has the ability to offer all potential students to study with BRPT at a distance, online. The grant is a lifeline for the company. Over the next five months, most of the grant will go to audio and video professionals who will be working on producing the online training – and provide them with much-needed income. Marketing of the online courses will begin in late November with the first courses scheduled to be available in January 2021.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden commented: “This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back. Through Arts Council England we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time. Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations. These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country.”
Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Culture is an essential part of life across the country, helping to support people’s wellbeing through creativity and self-expression, bringing communities together, and fuelling our world class creative industries.”
“This latest set of awards from the Culture Recovery Fund builds on those announced recently and will help hundreds of organisations to survive the next few months, ensuring that the cultural sector can bounce back after the crisis. We will continue doing everything we can to support artists and cultural and creative organisations, with further funding to be announced in the coming weeks.”
BRPT’s Managing Director, Mike Lowe, furthered: “I see the Culture Recovery Grant as not only being a lifeline for our training efforts and for those involved in the project over the coming months, but for the whole industry. In normal times, sound engineers and technicians retire; others move on to a whole variety of different roles such as production, technical support or in development for audio equipment manufacturers. This shrinkage in the talent / labour pool at the top end is fed by the pipeline of young people, equipped with the required knowledge and skills, entering the workplace at the beginning of their careers. This pipeline has already been broken by a year.”
He added: “The prognosis is such that it will be broken by at least two years. The natural rate at which sound engineers and technicians move on is accelerating due to the current crisis. Some with family responsibilities are re-training to work in other industries which can provide more immediate and reliable income at this time. Others, who planned to retire in the next two to three years are taking retirement early.”
“When our industry is in a position to return to normal levels of activity, the activity will be big. All artists, promoters and venues want to and need to get back to work. Live events industry workers are needed to allow them to do so. Being able to offer COVID-safe distance learning should help enormously with this oncoming problem. By moving from largely ‘physical’ training to largely ‘virtual’ training, we will reduce our cost of delivery and hence reduce costs for students. This reduction applies not only to course fees but to travel, accommodation and sustenance costs. In turn, we hope to see opportunities for a more diverse range of students than ever before,” Lowe said.
He concluded: “In the live events industry’s darkest hour, the Culture Recovery Grants and Loans offer some very welcome light and some very exciting opportunities.”