Up to Camden for a catch up and some future thinking with Keith at The Comedy School. We've been working together for three years now and the partnership is developing all the time. We started off by talking about the uncertainties caused by the forthcoming funding cuts. Keith compared it to knowing that their was a crazy axe murderer wandering around the house but not being sure when or who he's going to attack. Both of us are sceptical of David Cameron's Big Society, which for all the touchy feel good language actually just serves as an excuse to phase out nearly all funding to supportive services. Keith's already feeling the pinch in some areas as contracts with local boroughs and the police, for whom he's delivered a great deal of crime prevention work, have all but dried up - putting on hold the TIE tours. The Home Office are also almost certain to withdraw work. The solution has been to run more courses and begin to explore the corporate sector - where budgets are still being spent. It's not quite where his heart is, but he's finding that a lot of people are still prepared to pay for the lessons The Comedy School can provide and he's optimistic about the future.
The loss of revenue for local initiatives opens up possibilities. Keith is working with us on the Prison Arts module, which will run for the first time next year for Level 3 and suggested that we focus on creating a crime prevention conference for 200-300 local school children organised and run by the Applied Theatre students. It could be based as Drama St Mary's and co-hosted by The Comedy School, helping them to keep work alive that would otherwise perish. If set up well, it could prove to be a regular event. On route the students will have sessions with ex-offenders, criminologists, local magistrates and Prison governors, as well as plan and run a series of activities for the day. This seems a secure path and offers a chance to look at strategies for rehabilitation, but doesn't exclusively focus on that. It's the kind of partnership model we're increasingly going to look towards as we focus on giving our students the right tools and guidance for finding a job in the creative industries.