Each month, we highlight a charity that is working to make our communities better for everyone. This time we talked to Eastside Educational Trust, which helps children across London develop their creative potential by engaging them in a wide range of artistic endeavours. CEO and Artistic Director Matt Lane told us about Eastside’s work helping to foster the creative problem-solvers of the future.

Tell us about Eastside Educational Trust.

Eastside Educational Trust exists to help young people develop their creative thinking, so they are able to become the problem-solvers of tomorrow. We achieve this by engaging children and young people through direct participation in the arts, enabling them to work with professional artists and creative practitioners, both in and outside school, with particular focus on areas in London where our help is needed most.

Eastside was established in 1994 and moved into our own premises in Hackney in 2004, providing both an office base and a workshop space for artists’ training, teachers’ training and workshop delivery.

Each year over the past two decades, Eastside has inspired up to 15,000 young people from different backgrounds. Our work introduces important life skills such as leadership, responsibility, commitment and teamwork. We believe that any problem can be solved creatively, no matter what you end up doing in life, and that the world would be a better place if society valued and encouraged creativity more highly. That’s why we encourage young people who otherwise may not have these chances, to put their creative talents to good use. At the heart of every Eastside project is the belief that all young people have the capacity to surpass expectations and surprise us with their resourcefulness, creativity and enterprise.

 In what areas of London do you work?

Eastside has worked in every London borough over the years and we are determined to build our offer further to ensure that children and young people both within London and outside of London can benefit from what we offer.

Tell us about some of your projects.

The great thing about Eastside is that we can work with individual schools to help design projects that will meet specific needs of the students, young people and teachers involved.

This term we are running ballet classes for reception students, illustration masterclasses for secondary-aged students, spoken-word workshops for Year 6 students, a school choir, pottery masterclasses, a young people’s poetry slam at a West End theatre… I could go on!

We are also preparing for some very exciting new projects—this autumn we are launching our partnership with Disney through the Disney Musicals in Schools programme and throughout the summer we are working with Adobe and the British Board of Film Classification to deliver Eastside’s own Summer in Film programme.

We are also delighted to be working with industry partners on a number of creative competitions—open to young people of varying ages and all free to enter—please check the Eastside website for details.

Eastside is a flexible organisation and we work with young people through a variety of means—we enjoy working with voluntary groups and specialist agencies to bring the very best out of young people, wherever they are on their life journey.

 What are Eastside’s funding sources?

Eastside receives funding from the Arts Council England, as well as project funding from John Lyons Charity, Disney, Adobe, the British Film Institute and the British Board of Film Classification, amongst others.

However, we are always looking for new partners and individual sponsors/donors.  We recognise that funding for the arts and creative education are under huge pressure and we are determined to try and grow our income streams so that we can reach many more young people and encourage them to fulfil their potential.

If you would like to help us with this important work, please visit our supporters page. We are sincerely grateful to all those who support our work.

What obstacles does your organisation face?

Eastside is working hard to challenge a narrowing of creative and cultural subject delivery in schools. We believe that art and culture are unique ways to develop young people into confident and capable individuals.

We also know that schools are struggling to deliver high-quality education with ever-decreasing resources. Our challenge is to remind schools of the power of creative and cultural interventions and to offer solutions to the sometimes overwhelming demands that are placed on teachers, parents and young people.

To this end we are launching the Eastside Partner Schools programme in autumn 2017—a programme that will offer specific support to participating schools and their communities. Watch our website for further details.

Do you hold any fundraising events?

Eastside is looking forward to its 25th anniversary in 2019 and we are planning a series of events to raise the profile of our work and to raise funds to enable us to develop our impacts and extend our reach.

How can people get involved?

Please feel free to visit us in person, contact us by telephone or email us with your enquiry. We would love to work with your school or your community group and deliver a brilliant creative and cultural project.

For more about Eastside Educational Trust’s work, visit their website.

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