As part of our year-long grass roots, co-created #ARTCONNECTS19 Festival of Creative Schools, Work and Lives, inspired in no small way by Sir Elton John’s art, serendipity picked the same day as him to launch our own creativity export for the UK.
Sir Elton launched the movie of his life story in Cannes. We launched our creative community engagement model in Brazil.
He’s currently on a gruelling world tour, having done the USA last year and now in Europe and about to hit home turf.
It’s the ‘Farewell Yellowbrick Road’ tour as he’s hanging up his fancy sunglasses and retiring to spend more time with his family.
The #ART OF DADS
It’s really great to read of the pleasure he gets as a dad to two sons with his partner and business associate David Furnish.
“I never thought that fatherhood could bring me so much joy”, he says. He credits his sons for changing "everything about my life".
Speaking to The Mirror, he explained: "I've learned that the simplest things in life, like having a minute with them, are worth more than any painting, any photograph, any house or hit record.
Before we had the children we just had our lives and we would spend money because we didn't have anything else to focus on." He continued: "We have really toned things down because we have enough stuff. There is nothing else we need".
I know the feeling and always note how parenting brings a whole new perspective and reinforces my view that no one really cares much about, or certainly really notices, how we educate our kids until they have their own.
They certainly won’t be aware of what I call the #CreativityCrisis, due partly to certain aspects of government policy, but primarily I feel due to a certain ignorance or lack of awareness of the importance of arts and cultural education.
As Geoff Barton, Head of Head Teachers’ Union ASCL said at our first art connects conference “9 out of 10 head teachers are cutting the arts. But it’s not happening in Private Schools, it’s what the parent pay for”.
We pride ourselves on working across a wide range of schools from the most challenged in the state sector to the most affluent in the independent sector. In this article I wrote for the Independent Schools Magazine I talked about the importance of creativity and the opportunity for wider community collaboration.
In the same way parenting can be a real joy, it can be the toughest job in the world, let alone when you’re in a challenged social setting so our community engagement model is about bringing everyone in to help schools inspire their children, particularly those who may not get creative opportunities at home and which schools can struggle to offer.
Look at the two films here of a couple of our STEAM Co. Days being run in state school and the joy that a, then childess, innovation consultant gets from running a Lego activity with children for the day. In the other, how in ten minutes we teach the managing diretcor of a digital agency to teach 200 children to code in a day.
Whether or not our helpers have children of their own, these are incredibly rewarding days for helpers and priceless experiences that will last a lifetime for many of the chidlren.
THE ROCKET MAN LIFTS OFF
Yesterday Sir Elton popped down to Cannes for the premiere of his block buster life story movie ‘Rocket Man’ which tells how the gift of a piano and the graft of a creative education fuelled his career in the creative industries and helped power UK GDP.
By all accounts it’s a fantastic movie, starring Aberwystwth’s very own Taron Egerton.
It’s a warts and all look at Sir Elton’s life as also shown in the Christmas film that he made for John Lewis and which STEAM Co. mashed up as you can see below.
Indeed it also inspired STEAM Co.’s #ARTCONNECTS19 Festival together with some ideas from DCMS Minister Jeremy Wright.
Great british exports
It was therefore only fitting to choose this day for another major export announcement - STEAM Co’s presentation beamed from The RSA in London to the BETT Educar education expo in Sao Paolo, announcing our relationship there with creative learning specialist APDZ Educacao.
We’re talking to Sir Elton’s team and would love to see him become a PARTron of our #ARTCONNECTS19 Festival by donating the £300 we request to run one of our half day #WHATSyourART19 Sessions in his old school to help inspire the next generation, as his art has inspired us.
Come to think of it, would you or your organisation like to become a #PARTon19 too alongside the hndreds of others who have already signed up? Maybe you can only spare a pound. Don’t worry, for that you’ll get your name printed in the next edition of our STEAM Co. newspaper.
For a tenner we’ll send you a copy! Click here to choose an option.
Finally, here’s a 2 minute summary of the talk I gave for the Brazil launch. The full hour long version is further down the page, together with more background on all this.
INSPIRED BY ELTON JOHN’S STORY
When one of the world’s leading creative companies, Adam & Eve made a film with Elton John for John Lewis about a similar Christmas gift moment in Sir Elton’s creative journey, it was the greatest gift to us.
Truth be told we’d believed the rumours, that the film would use Sir Elton’s ‘Rocket Man’ in the ad which would have linked well with our #ARTofROCKETS work, but were delighted with their choice of ‘Your Song’ because that ‘one’ was for us too.
Adam & Eve sure know how to pick a tune, you’d think they were co-founded by a wannabe DJ too ;-)
We made our own version of their film ‘The Boy and The Piano’ with subtitles highlighting the impending Creativity Crisis brewing in our schools that will doubtless ultimately impact our economy and broader society.
Elton John RT’d it, and it had 50k views in an hour so we took it on a 2 week tour of UK School communites. You won’t believe what happened after we hitched the Pop Up STEAM Co. Day Drop Truck to a space age style rocket car loaned to us via Peugeot’s ad agency Havas and hit the road.
See the film here which we called ‘The boy and the Trainset’.
The ART CONNECTS19 Festival
On New Years Day we gave ourselves just 30 days to co-create a launch week for a nationwide #ARTCONNECTS19 Festival of Creative Schools, Work and Lives - a Celebration of the Power of Creativity, Tech and People to help remind Britain what it's great at and to make sure our young people have the inspiration and creative skills to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution.
It was inspired by a quote from a man, considered by many to be the most influential business blogger in the world:
"Art is what we call it when what we do might connect us to someone else"
It was to be a collaboration with some of the 20 schools we’d connected with on our Twelve Days of (Creative) Christmas Tour which culminated in a little Yorkshire lad getting a train set, a symbol of the power of a gift to unleash his imagination and creativity.
ART OF… EVENTS
We’re running a series of event over the year, dont miss an exclusive keynote from Richard Gerver at our #ARTofCOLLABORATION morning on July 11th in Kings Cross.
We’ve recorded podcasts with The CEO of The RSA and The Education Minister of Wales on their new creative curriculum for the 21st Century.
Inspired by the Culture secretary?
We were delighted to get an invite from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to the first big speech by Jeremy Wright, the Culture Secretary, in Coventry.
Frankly he couldn’t have done a better job of demonstrating the power of art in his speech.
But talking and walking are two different things. Ask any TED talker.
We think he’s a walker.
You can watch and read the minister’s speech yourself but in essence he talked about the power and importance of creativity in our schools, particularly drama and creative subjects. And how DCMS are collaborating with Damian Hinds and most of his team at the DfE to co-fund just that.
He talked about the power of the arts and culture to health and well being as part of a proactive approach to prevention rather than cure. And how DCMS are collaborating with Matt Hancock and his team at the NHS to co-fund just that.
He talked about the value of the creative industries to the British economy, now more than £100 billion a year and the support our Creative Industries need. And how DCMS are collaborating with Greg Clarke and his team at BEIS to co-fund just that.
He talked about the positive benefits of the arts in prisons. And how DCMS are collaborating with Sajid Javid and his team at The Home Office to co-fund just that.
He went in and on, like the ultimate advocate for the 21st Century Critical Skills of Collaboration and Co-funding, His thinking was certainly very creative too.
We dubbed him the Minister of the Art of… not least Collaboration and he gave us an idea, not only to collabroate but also co-fund our #ARTCONNECTS19 Festival.
THE ROCKET MAN
It might be worth pausing for a moment here to explain the tenuous link to Elton John and the Rocket Man.
To help us raise profile and build connecitons with school communities we have a half day sampler session called the #ARTofROCKETS for #RocketKids everywhere. It’s a precursor to our full STEAM Co. Day.
Hugely popular with whole school communities it was inspired by the best selling book and movie 'Rocket Boys' by Homer Hickam which we've been given exclusive permission to use.
It is a story of 4 boys growing up in a dead end coal mining town in the USA in the 50's, who see the first Sputnik and, with the encouragement of a teacher and mother, go on to make rockets and work for NASA. You really can't make it up.
It's suitable for Primary KS1/2 and Secondary KS3/4 children, consisting of:
Assembly - An all school assembly that tells Homer's story, bringing it up to date with Elon Musk and rocket science to connect back to the curriculum
Rocket Firing - a real rocket firing to about 500' with parachute recover system (all insured and risk assessed)
Rocket Science activity - where a class of children get to make and fire their own paper air rockets to a height of about 200 feet.
What’s not to like about that? Why not book it for your school community?
WHAT’S YOUR ART?
It’s the #ARTCONNECTS19 Summer Tour - asking the all important question during our #ARTCONNECTS19 Festival of Creative Schools, Work and Lives: ‘What’s Your Art’?
Your chance to have a STEAM Co. Session in your school.
We have half and full day sessions and evening events for the whole school community that combine creativity, science, tech, numeracy and literacy.
The STEAM skills are important but reading trumps them all.
We can bring everything you need. You just need to provide children and creative carers - like teachers, parents and other member of your community.
To help Connect our Kids with their Art and our Communities with their Schools.
Find out more and book your session here now - we have a few slots left.
Go on, be a part of it.
STEAM Co. are now seeking sponsors for the UK Summer Tour of the UK of their #WHATSYOURART19 sessions to help connect kids with their art and communities with their schools.
We don’t want you to be a partron but a #PARTron19.
For just a pound you can get your name listed in our next STEAM Co. Newspaper, as hundreds were in pages that The Guardian gave us
THE FULL BRAZIL LAUNCH PRESENTATION
See the whole hour long talk that Nick gave in Brazil to launch STEAM Co. with APDZ Educacao.
And get in touch if you’d like to support or collaborate with us.
And do let us know what you think of all this below.