Nurturing the arts education leaders of the future


A new UK scholarship for arts educators on the cusp of their careers has been launched as part of a pioneering collaboration between Opera North and the University of Leeds.

The Pettman DARE scholarship has been developed in response to an identified need within the arts sector to develop the careers and potential of those working in arts education.

Opportunities to acquire the necessary skills in music education are rare, with many working in the sector gravitating to London to gain the relevant experience and tuition needed. This creates a shortage of opportunities for highly trained and experienced specialist educators in the North. Both Opera North and the University are committed to ensuring that music educators and young people have access to opportunities of the highest quality. 

The DARE partnership between the University and Opera North combines the expertise of one of the UK’s leading research universities and one of Europe’s leading arts organisations to stimulate new ways of thinking and working. Opera North is the first arts organisation to nurture a collaboration of this kind with a higher education institution. 

The two organisations are now offering fully funded year-long research scholarships for UK students. Open to practitioners in music engagement in the early stages of their career, this intensive and practice-led research scholarship will equip scholars with the skills and experience needed to forge careers in early years arts education and make an impactful contribution to the industry and local community, through supervised research. There is the opportunity for suitable candidates to register for a Masters level award at the University.

The Pettman DARE scholarship will support emerging professionals in their ambitions to be leaders in music engagement with young people in the community. It seeks to have a positive impact on the way professional music organisations connect with local communities. 

This new UK scholarship continues the significant achievements of the hugely successful Pettman DARE scholarship for New Zealand citizens, which will continue to run in parallel with the new UK scholarship. Since 2010, five  young professionals have come to undertake practice led research with the University and Opera North.

Both schemes are made possible through the generosity of Professor Barrie Pettman and his wife Maureen, who are passionate supporters of the arts in both the UK and New Zealand, and have funded the programme since 2010 through the Pettman (Classical Music) Foundation via the Opera North Future Fund.

Professor Barrie Pettman said: “We are committed to giving Scholars the opportunity to grow and develop both artistically and academically at the heart of leading arts institutions. It makes us proud that with our support young people reach their potential and develop a fulfilling career in music and the arts”

Professor David Cooper, Dean of the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications at the University of Leeds, said: “The University of Leeds is delighted to be a partner in this important extension of the Pettmans’ generous philanthropy. We look forward to welcoming the successful candidates onto campus, where they will study the development of the arts sector and music education, and be mentored by specialist academics and practitioners.”

Opera North’s Education Director Jacqui Cameron said: “Opera North’s Education Department are committed to supporting young professionals who have the drive and commitment to pursue arts education careers through practice-led research. The contributions that these scholars will make to Opera North will have a positive impact on local families offering a different insight into artistic thinking and practice”

The 2016 Pettman DARE Scholarship in Music Education (UK) is now open for applications. For more information, or to register an interest, visit

Further information

DARE is a unique collaboration between Opera North and the University of Leeds, the first partnership of its kind in the UK. Launched in 2007, DARE is now in its eighth year and is a world leader in building collaborations between the arts and higher education.

Read more about the experiences of the current Pettman DARE scholar, Gemma Lee (pictured above. Image: Jonny Walton/Opera North).