Looking for more in Reading and Stories or ArtsAlive?

Arts Alive launches first school residencies

We're delighted to announce the schools awarded fully funded Arts Alive residencies in 2021 and the artists who have been appointed to work with them.

Group of primary school children standing behind desks in  a classroom, all raising one arm and bending to one side in a balletic pose.
St Paul's Primary School class working with Scottish Opera

Arts Alive is a pilot programme for schools delivered by Scottish Book Trust in collaboration with Scotland's National Performing Companies.

The programme offers high-quality professional arts experiences for young people, shown to contribute to improved confidence, wellbeing and narrowing the attainment gap.

Two schools and one school network were chosen by an expert panel to receive a fully funded residency with professional artists, as well as support from the Scottish Book Trust team and a nominated National Performing Company. 

The successful pilot partnerships are:

Corseford School, Renfrewshire

Corseford School are working with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are delivering a joint residency led by award-winning composer and musician Matilda Brown, working with artists Gordon Bragg and Helen Brew. 

Kirsty Maclean, Principal Teacher at Corseford, said:

"Our pupils have limited opportunity to be part of an audience of a professional musician or to create music with a musician. The pupils and Matilda are working on a piece about Emotions which fits in perfectly with our Lockdown recovery plan. All pupils and staff have been fully engaged in all of Matilda’s sessions and have benefited greatly from this opportunity to express themselves musically."

Matilda Brown, Composer and Creative Music Facilitator, said:

"I really love to involve the staff and support staff as much as possible in my sessions – therefore, I’m looking forward to building a relationship with everyone in the school. I believe a good atmosphere in the room together helps participants to feel safe and able to express themselves more. I love clear tasks within my music workshops, but the thing I am hoping for the most is for the participants to take me on a journey too – that we will come across things I haven’t planned and weave them into the music."

Kirsteen Davidson Kelly, Creative Learning Director, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, said:

"The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) celebrates its return to in-person music-making for schools with an Arts Alive residency at Corseford School, led by our fantastic long-term collaborator, composer Matilda Brown. We are excited that our first Arts Alive residency is also the first time that musicians from both the SCO and the RSNO will work together with Matilda to explore pupils’ ideas and emotions in creative ways, bringing fun, positivity and expressive music-making back to the (outdoor) classroom."

Gordon Bragg, Violinist and Conductor, said: 

"It is such a privilege and treat to be invited to participate in Corseford School’s residency with Matilda, and to be part of this incredibly creative and imaginative process is so precious after the long silence of the past year!"

Helen Brew, Professional Musician, Creative Music Facilitator, said:

"I’m excited to explore creativity, expression and making some fabulous music with young people and having lots of fun along the way! Really looking forward to discovering the musician in everyone."

The Mintlaw network and St Paul’s Primary School

The Mintlaw network, a cluster of 10 schools in Aberdeenshire, and St Paul’s Primary School in South Lanarkshire are both working with Scottish Opera. 

Scottish Opera are delivering two Song and Cycle residencies across the various schools, working with artists Andrew McTaggert, Beth Jerem and Alan Penman. 

Headteacher of St Paul’s Primary School, Carol McAuley said:  

"Andy, Alan and Beth from Scottish Opera have brought a sense of joy and inspiration to children and staff within St Paul’s Primary. The residency has helped the children recognise talents they didn’t even know they possessed.  It has helped even our most reserved child light up and try something new. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

Head Teacher of Strichen School, part of the Mintlaw Network, Andrew Jenkins said:

"This has been a cluster wide project and has allowed children from all the schools to work together virtually. The project has been a great success so far and the children and staff have really enjoyed working with the team from Scottish Opera who have been very enthusiastic and committed to it despite the difficulties of working virtually. We are looking forward to seeing how the project develops and the final outcome."

Andy McTaggart, Singer, Conductor and Teacher, said: 

"It’s a great opportunity to have fun with the kids and explore their creativity. It’s a great change to work with two other creatives and have fun writing some songs with the children. It is so good to be back making music after a tough year for the arts."

Alan Penman, Composer, Musician and Music Educator, said:

"I’m looking forward to getting children excited about writing their own music and lyrics, working with them to create their own unique songs, and finding out what they’d like to write about: what’s important to them, and how big their imaginations are!"

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

"We are delighted to announce three Arts Alive school residencies will be taking place in Aberdeenshire, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire. Together with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Opera, we will bring artists into classrooms across Scotland. We look forward to expanding this programme in autumn, when it will be joined by seven more residencies, including those from the National Theatre of Scotland and Scottish Ballet.

"Scottish Book Trust believes that providing young people with an inspiring cultural experience will enrich their wellbeing and learning, which is even more important in current circumstances."


For all programme and application enquiries, email [email protected](this link will open in a new window).

Please direct all media requests to PR and Marketing Manager: [email protected](this link will open in a new window).

The 2020-21 Arts Alive pilot programme is supported by:

And delivered in partnership with: