Bromsgrove Arts News

  • Thu 2 Apr 2015

    MEMBERS of Bromsgrove Court Leet were joined by more than 40 people at the Housman Statue to commemorate the 156th birthday of the town’s most famous poet.

    The chairman of The Housman Society Jim Page spoke to those gathered last Thursday (March 26).

    In his address, he talked about how good the new paving on the High Street looked and about this year being the 150th anniversary of the birth of AE Housman’s brother Laurence.

    Peter Clague, the new headmaster at Bromsgrove School, was this year’s guest of honour for the day and he read two of Housman’s military poems.

    That provided a poignant moment, especially with the centenary of the First World War.

    It was hoped the new cladding on the statue would be unveiled at the birthday commemoration, but unfortunately that has had to be postponed as it was not completed in time.

    Mr Page said: “That did not detract from what was a wonderful afternoon, remembering AE Housman and his links to Bromsgrove.”

    Those gathered also went to Bromsgrove Council House, Burcot Lane, for a special lunch, hosted by Civic Head John Ruck.

    The annual poetry competition, which is usually held in conjunction with Housman’s birthday commemoration, will now take place before the October half-term.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Sun 22 Mar 2015

    KING Richard III will be the subject of this year’s Bromsgrove Lecture which takes place at the end of this month.

    His Glorious Majesty – King Richard III will be given by local historian Ralph Richardson and will be illustrated by Julian Hunt when it is held at Bromsgrove School’s Routh Hall at 7.30pm on March 31.

    This will be the 29th annual lecture - the Bromsgrove’s Society’s major event of the year.

    The subject is a timely one as the body of Richard III is due to be reburied at Leicester Cathedral this Sunday (March 22) so, the organisers say, it will be a good time to look at the short-lived king who created extraordinary loyalty among his supporters and was the last monarch to be killed in battle.

    Speaker Mr Richardson is a retired history teacher and headmaster and a past chairman of the Worcestershire Branch of the Richard III Society.

    The illustrated talk will include details of the two prominent Worcestershire men who fought at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

    One of them, Humphrey Stafford of Grafton Manor, fought under the banner of Richard and although he survived the battle he was later executed.

    Henry VII became King and then Grafton Manor was passed to the Talbots. It is the father and mother of Humphrey who are represented in St John’s Church, Bromsgrove and on who the legend titled ‘The Jovial Hunter’ is based.

    Tickets, at £6, are available from the Foto Factory in Bromsgrove High Street, by attending a local history group meeting or by calling 0121 445 5005 or 01527 877227.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard


  • Sun 22 Mar 2015

    A LIGHT-HEARTED evening of classical music and chat will be held in Bromsgrove with world famous cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

    The event, at Artrix on May 12, will feature performances from Julian and see him speaking about his high-profile career which has spanned more than four decades.

    During that time he has performed with a variety of stars, including Nigel Kennedy, Elton John, Tim Rice, Stephane Grappelli and many more. There will be footage of some of those performances screened on the evening.

    The event will also be aimed at breaking down any misconceived barriers about classical music.

    “I have never thought classical music is for the elite - I think it’s for everyone.

    “And I really do believe the composers have the same view as me when they are writing the music,” said Julian.

    Julian comes from a very musical family - his father was great composer William Lloyd Webber.

    When asked if there was any sibling rivalry between him and his brother Andrew, Julian told The Standard: “No, not at all. We were always doing our own things.

    “He always wanted to write and always wanted to create musical theatre, whereas I really loved working with composers and getting new music for my cello.

    “We haven’t worked together that often, but when we did, it was always fun.”

    There will also be a family feel to the evening at Artrix as Julian will perform alongside his wife, fellow cellist Jiaxin on the evening.

    The pair have recorded two CDs of cello music.

    “I really enjoyed working with my wife on that project - it went so well and it will be something for my daughter Jasmine to have in the future.”

    He said Jasmine, although only three-and-a-half, was already showing a love of music, asking for pieces to be put on and ‘dancing around a lot’.

    And he added he would encourage people coming on May 12 to bring along their children and use the evening as a kind of introduction to classical music.

    “If a young person comes with a cello, we can give them some tips and give them the chance to perform on stage,” he said.

    Julian was forced to cancel the remaining dates of a tour last May when he sustained a serious injury.

    A herniated disk in his neck reduced the strength in his right arm meaning he can no longer play large concertos.

    “I needed to make a decision on what to do next and I thought to myself ‘I can still do other things within music’.

    “I thought I can still play gentle music and gentle pieces and I can talk about everything I’ve done.

    “I wanted to put on a really entertaining and light-hearted evening and the concept of what we are doing here came to me in the middle of the night.”

    As well as the speaking and performing, there will be a question and answer session at Artrix as part of the evening where audience members will be welcome to ask whatever they want.

    “I want people to be able to get an insight into what it’s like to be a musician for all these years, working with a lot of other musicians,” added Julian.

    And he said this would probably the only time he would be going on a tour like this.

    “After that I don’t think I’ll be going on the road again - I will be moving into doing something else.”

    He added he did not yet know what that would be, but said a role in musical education or conducting appealed to him.

    Tickets for May 12 at Artrix are £25 and can be bought by visiting or by calling 01527 577330.

    Go to for more on Julian Lloyd Webber.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard


  • Sun 22 Mar 2015

    MEMBERS of the Jigsaw Players Theatre Company are hoping their audiences will be wanting more when they stage the classic musical Oliver.

    The show, based on the book by Charles Dickens, will run from Wednesday (March 25) to Sunday (March 29) at the Spadesbourne Suite, Bromsgrove.

    The piece tells the story of Oliver and his struggle to survive against the odds on the streets of Victorian London.

    It features a number of famous musical numbers, including Food Glorious Food, I’d Do Anything and Consider Yourself.

    Director Maggie Bishton said the show would provide some wonderful entertainment and was one not to be missed.

    “We have an outstanding cast of adults, youth and two teams of children full of enthusiasm, along with a wonderful band providing the music.”

    Jigsaw is an inclusive theatre company and the production is presented by arrangement with Music Scope and Stage Musicals Limited of New York.

    Performances will begin at 7pm each evening with matinees on the Saturday - at 1.30pm and the Sunday - at 4pm.

    Tickets are £10.

    To book or for any more information, email drama50 [at] hotmail [dot] co [dot] uk or call 077726 45722 or 07919 505764.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard


  • Sun 22 Mar 2015

    WORCESTERSHIRE County Council has agreed to contribute £30,000 to pay for a new fund-raising and marketing officer for Bromsgrov’s Artrix in a bid to safeguard the centre’s long-tern future.

    The authority agreed to the request made by Bromsgrove MP and Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, who said he was thrilled the funding was now in place.

    “This is a brilliant step forwards in helping the Artrix to grow as an organisation that benefits so many people in our neighbourhood.”

    He thanked Worcestershire County Council for the cash and the continued support of Bromsgrove District Council.

    Worcestershire County Council leader Coun Adrian Hardman said: “Having considered this issue we are delighted to be able to help Artrix boost its income and have many, many more successful years.”

    Artrix director Ros Robins added he was delighted and said: “This amount will enable the organisation to build its staffing capacity over the next year and get its fund-raising and audience development plans off to a good start.

    “We are grateful for the support and assistance both of the county council and our local MP.

    “As Secretary of State for Culture, Sajid understands the needs of arts organisations in these financially challenging times.”

    The news comes just six weeks before Artrix is due to host its tenth anniversary celebrations with a special outdoor event.

    That - on April 25 - will begin with a lantern parade from Bromsgrove High Street at 8.30pm to Artrix.

    Then, at 9pm, there will be a spectacular show from internationally renowned theatre company Walk the Plank.

    ‘Spellbound’ will mix shadow puppet theatre and dazzling pyrotechnics.

    Ros said: “It promises to be a wonderful birthday party and a great way to thank all those local people that have shown their support for Artrix in recent months.”

    Schools, scout, guide and brownies packs, youth groups and other organisations are being urged to contact Artrix if they are interested in taking part in the lantern parade.

    Learning and engagement officer TC Peppercorn is available to work with them on making the lanterns ahead of the big parade.

    In conjunction with the tenth anniversary, Artrix is also launching a fund-raising campaign, asking people to donate £10 in celebration of the marvellous milestone and to raise money for the next decade.

    Cash raised will support the studio programme, particularly new and emerging artists, visits by theatre companies in the school holidays and performances for family audiences. It will also fund the much-needed replacement of some of the theatre’s lighting equipment.

    Donations can be made online at or via the donation boxes in the foyer.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard


  • Sun 22 Mar 2015

    YOUNGSTERS welcomed a well known children's author who visited a Bromsgrove school as part of World Book Day celebrations. 

    Julie Fulton visited pupils at Rigby Hall Special School, in Rigby Lane, for the event.

    Children dressed as their favourite characters for the visit and attended personalised workshops that were arranged by literacy co-ordinator Tina Henderson.

    During the workshops Julie Fulton discussed her own favourite childhood books and characters.

    There was reading of the stories Julie had created such as Mrs Macready was ever so greedy, and she signed books for the children and staff at the school.

    Mrs Henderson said: “All the pupils and staff thoroughly enjoyed the morning activities and there was a super buzz around the school.

    "Events like this ensure our students read for pleasure. It certainly was a pleasure to have Julie visit us as she skilfully engaged all of our students."

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Advertiser

  • Fri 13 Mar 2015

    FORMER Birmingham Poet Laureate Giovanni ‘Spoz’ Esposito has been confirmed as the Green Party candidate to contest the Bromsgrove seat at May’s general election.

    And the Rubery resident has hit the ground running - he has already organised an evening of music and poetry to raise funds for his election campaign.

    ‘Spoz’s Green Stuff’ will be an unplugged evening of music, featuring several artists, including Nigel Clark from Dodgy and folk, skiffle, pop and blues acts.

    It will be held at The Hop Pole from 7pm on March 29. There will also be an auction, raffle and poetry from Spoz. Admission is £5 (minimum donation) on the door.

    Before that he will be participating in a hustings event with other candidates at South Bromsgrove High School.

    Spoz said: “It’s time for a change from the business-as-usual politics.

    “For me, every Green Party policy stems from the belief that our wellbeing should not be pursued at the expense of others and at the expense of our planet.

    “A vote for the Green Party is a vote for the common good.

    “I’m chuffed to be selected.”

    Alistair Waugh, Bromsgrove and Redditch Green Party co-ordinator said: “Spoz would work his socks off for the Bromsgrove constituency.

    “He’s passionate about tax fairness, youth provision, welfare and education.

    “Following the ‘green surge’ of interest in the Green Party over recent months, we’re confident local people will support Spoz.”

    Visit to follow the popular poet’s election campaign.

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard


  • Thu 22 Jan 2015

    A NORTHFIELD woman has been selected from hundreds of entrants to front Selfridges’ ‘Bright Old Things’ campaign.

    Sally Peplow, 53, was chosen to be part of the drive which champions creatives who have bucked retirement in favour of a second career.

    Sally, a teaching assistant turned textile artist, has now taken over some of the Birmingham store’s newly-installed 360 degree windows.

    After dedicating most of their lives to a single career Sally decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue her passion.

    Sally, who worked in a Birmingham schools for 18 years, opted to embark upon a course in fine art textiles and then a degree at Birmingham City University after realising spectacular school displays were just the tip of the iceberg of her creative potential.

    Sally’s work is displayed on the store’s almost four-metre tall and eight-metre-wide curved glass window at the main entrance on level three.

    Sally said she was over the moon with her window and it was absolutely what she wanted it to be fun, exciting and vibrant.

    “I’m so proud of it and feel extremely grateful - I’m just a mature student from Birmingham and now I’ve been gifted this incredible opportunity,”she added.

    “It’s a real moment for me.”

    Ruth Harris, Selfridges’ general manager, said Sally was a hugely inspiring woman.

    She added it took guts to change career no matter what age but she had proved age was nothing but a number.

    “She’s found her calling later in life, and we’re only too pleased to give her the stage they deserve to showcase her fantastic and unique creative curiosities,” Ruth said.

    “ We urge people to come and see our new store windows - they are truly beautiful works of art.”

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard


  • Tue 20 Jan 2015

    TWO BROMSGROVE arts champions have warned that proposed funding cuts to Artrix could undo all the good work done by people in the venue's first decade.

    The calls from Jennie McGregor-Smith and Jim Page come after plans by the district council to slash the amount the centre receives from £120,000-a-year to £60,000.

    The School Drive venue, which cost £2.6million, opened in 2005 and its name was chosen by readers of The Standard after we ran a competition with the centre.

    The district council provided an initial start-up grant of £40,000 and then agreed to give £1.2million over ten years.

    That agreement comes to an end in March and the pair, who are members of Bromsgrove Arts Alive (BAA), wrote to The Standard, warning of the consequences of the funding reduction and calling on the council to reconsider its decision.

    "Council support over the past ten years has been an investment that has paid off handsomely.

    "Our arts centre is one of the very best in the Midlands, of which we are very proud.

    "If the council's cut is as planned it will affect so many people.

    "Ticket prices will have to go up so people won't attend so often, charges for hiring the theatre will go up so organisations will have to go to church halls instead, and the schools won't be able to afford to perform there.

    "The number of performances will be cut - a theatre that is dark loses money - and Artrix won't be able to bring in such excellent performers so people from other areas won't bother to travel here, and many thousands of Bromsgrove people will lose out."

    Bromsgrove District Councillor Mike Webb, whose portfolio includes finance and leisure services, said: “In 2013 after extensive discussions with all parties, members decided that although Artrix had successfully become profitable, funding to support access to it, particularly for young people across the district, would continue beyond that initial deal.

    “To that end £60,000 a year was allocated in the Medium Term Financial Plan to start this year.

    "We’re pleased that this council remains in the financial position to be able to continue to support the excellent work that the Artrix does.”

    Ros Robins, Artrix's interim director, said: "Discussions with Bromsgrove District Council regarding future funding for Artrix are ongoing.

    "Whilst we are concerned at the devastating effect that a halving of funding would have on the programme offered at Artrix, and the effective operation of the venue, we will continue to try and influence the recommendation until the point at which the final decision is made."

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard

  • Thu 15 Jan 2015

    A BROMSGROVE teenager has won a prestigious national essay accolade for providing a vivid eyewitness account of a young girl seeing the feeding of the 5,000.

    Indira Kaushal, 14, took part in the annual competition which has been running for 25 years as part of the Schools Bible Project.

    That is organised by the Order of Christian Unity, a charity dedicated to fostering understanding different branches of the faith.

    Indira, who has both Hindu and Christian influences on her own background, fought off hundreds of others from all over Britain as she rose to the challenge to ‘describe a biblical event as though they were actually present’.

    It demonstrated the year ten pupil at King Edward’s High School for Girls in Edgbaston had read and understood the different New Testament accounts of the incident and Christ’s impact on those around him.

    Indira got to travel down to the Houses of Parliament with the other winners and was presented with her prize by Baroness Cox, one of the trustees of the Schools Bible Project.

    Indira, who won books for herself and a £500 cheque for the school, said she was absolutely amazed when she heard she had won and it was a great thrill to travel down to London with her family for the presentation.

    “I’d enjoyed trying to put myself in the place of a child present at the feeding of the 5,000 and imagine the small details of what it must have been like to experience this miracle in the midst of a vast crowd like that.

    “I feel very lucky that my account caught the judges’ eye,” she added,

    Her RE teacher Alison Young said the school was so proud of Indira and added: “She produced a wonderfully lively, detailed account that fully deserved to win.

    “I think it is wonderful that a girl with both Hindu and Christian influences in her family can engage so well with Biblical themes and write with such empathy.

    “In the light of the Trojan Horse scandal, this is a reminder of the kind of excellent understanding across different faith traditions that can be inspired - especially in RE lessons.”

    Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard