BY JAMES TWOMEY
The future of a 137-year-old music school which trained stars like Kate Bush has been secured after a loan.
The Blackheath Conservatoire of Music and the Arts– whose past students also include Gary Oldman, Jools Holland and Daniel Day-Lewis – have finalised a loan from Triodos Bank, which lends solely to organisations with social, environmental or cultural aims.
John Keeley, principal and managing director of the Conservatoire, said: “Our partnership with Triodos really enhances our ability to flourish and grow.
“Triodos Bank is a great fit for us given our shared ethical values and understanding of the societal benefits of investing in arts and culture in an inclusive, community-driven way.”
The school’s 2,000 pupils attend 185 different lessons in music, drama, art and design.
Oren Marshall, father of David Marshall, 14, is one of the students who receives a full bursary to attend weekly music lessons at the Conservatoire on Sunday mornings with Elliott Galvin – a respected jazz pianist and composer.
His father, Oren Marshall, said: “David loves attending his lessons with Elliot – they have a great rapport.
“The sessions really help him during a very challenging time as a teenager, as they give David a chance to express himself.
“For example, sometimes David brings a track he likes to Elliot and together they break it down – they don’t focus on grades or certificates, it’s more about exploring how music works.
“It’s really special to have a talented jazz musician like Elliot as a teacher.”
The Conservatoire works with local schools, charities and children’s centres to help people of all ages access creative arts.
It has been a hub of grassroots activity since 1881 and this loan will specifically help those with significant musical talent from low income families or who face other barriers to participation such as special educational needs, refugee status, challenging family circumstances, and those living with Alzheimer’s and their carers.
Phillip Bate, senior relationship manager at Triodos Bank UK, said: “We believe that a dynamic arts sector is key to a thriving and resilient society, which is why we try to support and stimulate the sector.
At Triodos, we know the arts and culture sector also plays an important role in bringing communities together.
“In hitting both social and cultural goals, the Conservatoire is just the kind of organisation that we like to support.”
The school came close to closure in 2013 before a public campaign and fundraising drive generating nearly £230,000 managed to save it.
The Conservatoire was recently announced as one of 16 organisations around the country receiving special grants from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation with a total of £40,000 to be granted over two years.