Artis is about real learning experiences that join together the mind, heart and body.
We aim to unlock individuality that turns remarkable children into remarkable adults. We feel children learn best in a way that’s all-embracing, when themes and subjects link to physical, artistic experiences. We do this by integrating music, movement and drama. Ideally we like to develop a long-term partnership with a school because this allows us to work with children over time, developing their skills through regular contact.
The Artis story
How it all came about
We had an unusual beginning 10 years ago. It all started with a phone call from the House of Lords, which was swiftly followed by a meeting with an enigmatic educational investor. Rebecca, Chief Executive was engaged on the spot to set up a music education outsourcing company to provide the likes of Eton with their music department. But during the business planning process a very different vision and educational methodology emerged. Artis wouldn’t work with independent secondary schools, but partner state primary schools. The subject focus wouldn’t be music alone, but a broad fusion of the performing arts linked to every area of the curriculum. Supported by our board directors, Lord Puttnam and Lord Bichard, our mission to transform education through the arts led to a successful management buy-out shortly thereafter.
Why we grew
At that point Artis was collaborating with just 30 progressive primary schools in Essex and Manchester and had 25 arts educators on the panel. The following year, after gaining full control of delivering our educational vision, we doubled in size. More and more pioneering Headteachers began partnering Artis to provide their children with magical learning experiences. Arts educators found out about the comprehensive training we offered. The development of mentoring and leadership positions within the organisation made us a desirable employer for arts educators, offering them a pathway to a fulfilling portfolio career. Indeed Artis now receives over 1,000 applications a year from arts educators. And thanks to the enduring vision of countless Headteachers who share our values, we now work with 50,000 children every week across Greater London, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.
What was different
In an effort to stand out to schools and children, everyone in the company chose an onomatopoeic name that best described them. These words represented sounds, movements or gestures, expressing our focus on music, dance and drama. Rebecca kicked off and chose Buzz (because she wanted to make sure she created one), then came Lord Puttnam with Whirl (because he’s always in one), and Lord Bichard picked Wham (because he likes to get things done – or maybe he has a thing for the pop group).
We now have hundreds of unique onomatopoeic arts educators. We’ve even had twin Artis Specialists, Tick and Tock! Now, some schools love the names so much that their entire staff chooses onomatopoeic names that reflect their personalities.
Why we are still here
12 years ago many schools had not considered outsourcing part of their children’s learning. Some had had mixed experiences bringing in talented artists who turned out to have poor teaching skills.
Right from day one we decided that we had to invest heavily in transforming performers into arts educators. Extensive training and mentoring became our non-negotiables. We were convinced that if our innovative programme was not delivered by highly trained practitioners, schools wouldn’t invest in us let alone stay with us, and it wouldn’t be too long before we joined that 80% of failed companies. Our substantial ongoing investment in training and mentoring – on average £1,500 per Artis Specialist per year – has been pivotal to why we’re still here and why we’ve been lucky enough to join the 20% of start-up successes.
What has changed
Although some things have changed at Artis as we have grown over the last 10 years, our non-negotiables have remained steadfast. The London Business School was concerned that we would end up spending all this money on training and mentoring arts practitioners who would take these skills elsewhere. To their surprise we celebrated this. Our Artis Specialists with their portfolio careers would definitely be taking their enhanced talents elsewhere and enriching the lives of more children – and that is precisely the point of why we are a social business.
Artis would never have thrived if it weren’t for our schools recognising the power that the arts can have on learning outcomes. If together we can raise the standard of arts education and elevate its status, then our mission to transform education through the arts is being accomplished.