Burberry Inspire



  • Burberry Inspire, the first in school arts and culture project of its kind, brought together renowned organisations American Ballet Theatre, Northern Ballet, Reel Works, Leeds Young Film, Studio in a School NYC, The Hepworth Wakefield and Leeds Playhouse with local school students from Yorkshire, UK and New York City to create virtual dance, sculpture and digital media artwork with support from the Creative Arts Team, part of the City University of New York, and The Ideas Foundation. 


  • The first ever collaboration between American Ballet Theatre and Northern Ballet came as school students worked with the dance artists, resulting in four dance films performed by professional dancers, filmed in part in NYC and the Hepworth Wakefield.


  • Burberry Inspire is one of the first programmes which aim to give young people deep and varied experience of arts and culture while studying the impact on their development, starting in Yorkshire in 2018 and expanding to New York City in 2020.


As education programmes were impacted and schools were interrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, a transatlantic, multidisciplinary artistic collaboration was born. The artistic partners of in-school arts education programme Burberry Inspire turned to virtual learning and creative prompts online to continue their lessons, resulting in some world first collaborations from renowned artists, directly inspired by their students.

In a first-ever collaboration for American Ballet Theatre and Northern Ballet, the choreography direction from the students inspired four dance films performed by the companies’ dancers. The pieces were overseen by Northern Ballet’s Artistic Director of Digital and Choreographer in Residence, Kenneth Tindall, and filmed, in part, at The Hepworth Wakefield, as well as amongst iconic landmarks in New York City. American Ballet Theatre and Northern Ballet worked with students, enhancing their communication, leadership, creative-thinking, and problem-solving skills. Students worked with dance artists to explore works and imagery that inspires them, as well as devising their own choreography.

Reel Works, an organisation dedicated to inspiring and empowering underrepresented students through filmmaking, connected students with Teaching Artists online to create original documentaries, narratives and animated films to share their stories with their schools and communities. Using a variety of prompts, the organisation has allowed students to safely explore, document, and make meaning of the world around them. The team has also been collaborating with Leeds Young Film on ideas and ways to engage students. 

Studio in a School NYC and The Hepworth Wakefield have begun sharing each other’s artmaking prompts and video lessons with their students, a partnership that will now be continued in the coming months. To stay connected to students during the pandemic, Studio in a School NYC, aiming to enrich young lives through visual arts, launched ‘Studio in Your Home’, a family-friendly platform for creating art with materials found at home. They created a robust body of distance learning curricula, including instructional videos, illustrated lesson plans, and family artmaking guides, put into practice with nearly 100 partner schools.

Leeds Playhouse continues to deliver their creative programme to partner schools in Leeds and is working collaboratively with the CUNY Creative Arts Team, which harnesses theatre to impact social change, on a number of exciting projects for the next academic year. 

The Burberry Foundation first launched Burberry Inspire in 2018 in Yorkshire, UK. More than 5,500 young people have benefitted from experiences of the creative arts to date across both countries, ranging from dance and theatre to filmmaking and sculpture. In New York, the Creative Arts Team at the City University of New York is supporting the arts partners in coordinating programs across six schools while facilitating professional development workshops for all partners to share best practices and knowledge on arts education. 

Burberry Inspire measures how deep experience of the arts can have a positive effect on young people’s lives by connecting eminent arts organisations with schools. The Office of Research, Evaluation, and Program Support (REPS) of the City University of New York will measure the impact of Burberry Inspire in New York, while the Policy Institute at King’s College London will study the impact of the immersive arts and creative education programme on the students’ development in Yorkshire.

The partners from across Yorkshire and New York will showcase students’ work in a virtual cultural runway later this year.







The Burberry Foundation was set up in 2008 by Burberry Group plc as an independent charity for general charitable purposes and grant-making. The Foundation Board comprises two Burberry representatives and an independent trustee. The Board meets four times a year and is responsible for upholding the Foundation’s vision and ensuring delivery of its charitable purpose.

Considering the varied social, environmental and economic impacts of the luxury industry on communities worldwide, the Foundation is dedicated to using the power of creativity to drive positive change in our communities and build a more sustainable future through innovation. It is therefore taking a long-term approach and focusing its grant-making on promoting the STEAM agenda, tackling educational inequality, reducing waste and supporting social and economic development.

Pam Batty, Secretary to The Burberry Foundation and VP of Corporate Responsibility, Burberry said: “The Burberry Foundation is dedicated to using the power of creativity to drive positive change, which is why we’re thrilled to have expanded Burberry Inspire internationally and help bring eminent arts organisations from across countries together. The importance of supporting the arts and engaging students in creativity is more prevalent than ever, and we’re grateful to all the teams who have worked tirelessly to continue to provide resources and cultivate a true sense of community and connection.”


Recognized by an act of the United States Congress as America’s National Ballet Company®, American Ballet Theatre is one of the great dance companies in the world.  Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope and outreach.  Founded in 1940, ABT performs for more than 300,000 people annually. It has made more than 30 international tours to 45 countries and has been sponsored by the State Department of the United States on many of these engagements.  In keeping with its long-standing commitment to bringing the finest in dance to the widest possible audience, ABT has recently enjoyed triumphant successes with engagements in Hong Kong, Brisbane, Singapore, Oman and Paris.

Dennis Walters, Director of Education and Training, American Ballet Theatre: “We’re pleased to build upon the success of the Burberry Inspire program and now bring virtual learning in dance and design to a wide audience of middle school students in NYC and beyond. The opportunity to collaborate, share ideas and develop curriculum with the talented artists and educators of Northern Ballet has been a special experience for the artists of American Ballet Theatre and the students participating in Burberry Inspire. We look forward to our continued partnership and the opportunity to share student stories and experiences through dance-making from both sides of the Atlantic.”  


In 2020 Northern Ballet is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Northern Ballet is one of the UK’s leading ballet companies and the widest touring ballet company in the UK. Bold and innovative in its approach, Northern Ballet is prolific at creating new full-length work with a unique blend of strong classical technique and impressive storytelling. Northern Ballet’s repertoire embraces popular culture and takes inspiration from literature, legend, opera and the classics, pushing the boundaries of what stories can be told through dance. A champion for the cultural exports of the North, Leeds-based Northern Ballet is dedicated to bringing ballet to as many people and places as possible, under the leadership of Artistic Director David Nixon OBE. Northern Ballet’s Company of 43 dancers performs a combination of its full-length ballets and specially created ballets for children at more than 40 venues annually. 

Leanne Kirkham, Director of Learning, Northern Ballet: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the unprecedented impact on every aspect of our lives has highlighted the importance of creativity as we’ve adjusted at home, at work and at play. With great challenge comes great opportunity and we wanted to share this ethos with young people by offering them a chance to work with professional dancers like never before. Pupils in Yorkshire and New York City have risen to the challenge and created some beautifully inspiring choreography which our dancers have loved bringing to life.” 


Founded in 2001, Reel Works mentors, inspires and empowers underserved NYC youth to share their stories through filmmaking, creating a springboard to successful careers in media and beyond. Using a one-on-one mentoring model, Reel Works challenges teens to tell their stories and have their voices heard. In turn, they build skills in literacy, leadership, and self-confidence to create productive futures. Reel Works serves 800 youth annually from middle school through high school, helping them graduate, get into college, and launch media careers.

Stephanie Walter, Co-Founder and Senior Director for Education and Programming, Reel Works: “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Burberry Inspire, and honored to be part of such a robust and exciting cohort of arts organizations and schools dedicated to enriching the lives of young people from so many communities. Our goal is to help diversify the film industry with a new generation of storytellers whose cultures and experiences are the fabric of everyday life in America, and to introduce diverse audiences to the power and poignancy of young voices." 


Leeds Young Film was formed in 1999 and has engaged with over 200,000 children and young people since it was founded. Part of Leeds City Council’s City Development Department, LYF creates and sustains opportunities for young people and their families to develop their creativity and education through a range of projects and programmes which join together to create a film journey for young people, no matter their age, across informal and formal education. These include, including the UK’s largest family film event, Leeds Young Film Festival and the North’s largest event of its kind for young filmmakers, Independent Directions Film Festival (The INDIs).

Debbie Maturi, Manager, Leeds Young Film: “Leeds Young Film gives thousands of young people and families the opportunity to engage with film in a wide variety of ways. Most recently this has been through a virtual engagement with a new toolkit for students to use at home and connect with each other during lockdown, which will continue to inspire young people to develop their skills, learn about arts and culture and create their own content. As part of Leeds City Council, we are committed to delivering these key priorities and the Virtual Guerrilla Filmmakers Guide allows us to do just that. We are thrilled to be a part of Burberry Inspire and the collaboration we’ve developed with all of the partners including Reel Works has enabled us to continue to enrich our offer and reach an even wider audience."


Since 1977, Studio in a School Association has nurtured the creativity of over one million students through quality visual arts education taught by professional artists. At the same time, Studio has introduced tens of thousands of school administrators, classroom teachers, and family members to the intrinsic value of the arts to students’ learning and growth. Studio NYC engages over 30,000 students in all five boroughs each year, predominantly students who live in New York City’s most economically disadvantaged communities. The Studio Institute, now operating in six U.S. cities in addition to New York, focuses on research and dissemination of best practices in visual arts education as well as college and career readiness for teens and young adults.

Alison Scott-Williams, President, Studio in a School NYC: “Studio in a School NYC is very grateful to the Burberry Foundation for the chance to be part of Burberry Inspire, a program which has expanded our boundaries as an organization while providing new avenues of learning for New York City middle school students. We are very excited to see where the next two years of the program take us on this shared journey.”  


Designed by the acclaimed David Chipperfield Architects, The Hepworth Wakefield is set within Wakefield’s historic waterfront, overlooking the River Calder. The gallery opened in May 2011 and was awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. Named after Barbara Hepworth, one of the most important artists of the 20th century who was born and brought up in Wakefield, the gallery presents major exhibitions of the best international modern and contemporary art. It is also home to Wakefield’s art collection – an impressive compendium of modern British and contemporary art – and has dedicated galleries exploring Hepworth’s art and working process. The Hepworth Wakefield Garden, designed by internationally renowned landscaped architect Tom Stuart-Smith, opened alongside the gallery in 2019.

Nicola Freeman, Director of Engagement and Learning, The Hepworth Wakefield: “The Hepworth Wakefield is thrilled to continue nurturing young people’s creativity through Burberry Inspire. By successfully adapting our artist-in-residence project to digital platforms, we have been able to support students in their creative journeys while at home. Our collaboration with Studio in a School NYC has been a fantastic opportunity to connect with visual arts colleagues internationally, share best practice and explore new ways of delivering arts activity for young people. Our work together has deepened students’ engagement through shared digital resources and films with artists from both Yorkshire and New York. It has been incredibly inspiring for the students involved to feel part of a global community and use creativity to explore their shared experiences during this pandemic.” 


Leeds Playhouse has a reputation both nationally and internationally as a leading UK producing theatre. Evolving and regenerating over its 50-year history the theatre has continued to be a cultural hub and artistic beacon for the North, a place where people gather to tell and share stories, and to engage in world class theatre.

Alexander Ferris, Associate Director, Creative Engagement, Leeds Playhouse: “Burberry Inspire is a long-term project that the education sector needs more than ever, and at Leeds Playhouse we feel privileged to be a part of it. Through the project we are enriching the curriculum and providing opportunities that students in Yorkshire might not otherwise have, with experimental work, cross-curricular creativity and the freedom to explore their own aspirations. The project aims to expand horizons: as one student said, drama club ‘feels like you’re exploring a new place’, and even more so now we have New York partners sharing inspiration from around the world with young people in Yorkshire.” 


Founded in 1974, the Creative Arts Team (CAT) at the City University of New York uses theatre and interactive drama as a catalyst to address academic and social issues. CAT serves more than 19,000 New Yorkers at 180 schools and community sites annually, and has a staff of sixty educators and teaching artists who deliver programs to promote the education, growth, and well-being of pre-K through 12th grade students, college students, teachers, parents and adults. CAT is part of the Office of K-16 Initiatives at CUNY, a unit that creates innovative pathways for young New Yorkers to envision and achieve success by engaging strategic partners in confronting systemic educational inequities.

Jeanne Houck, Executive Director, Creative Arts Team (CUNY) said: "With an exciting launch of the program this past year, the Burberry Inspire program opened the door to the arts for NYC students. All of our Burberry arts partners did amazing work in pivoting towards remote learning to deliver the program during the COVID-19 crisis. Together, with support from Burberry, we built new program models with our UK counterparts to connect arts organizations, schools and students from two continents to inspire creativity, problem-solving and a larger view of ourselves and the world. We are all stronger as a result.”  


Ideas Foundation believes that the brightest ideas don’t come from one place or one type of person. Last year, 92% of creative jobs in the UK were held by the most ‘advantaged’ in society. This doesn’t add up for anyone. As a registered charity, Ideas Foundation helps to move the creative, tech and communications industries in a more diverse direction. It’s asking them to think bigger and open their doors to students who don’t normally get a look-in, students who may never have thought about joining the industry yet are full of ideas.

Heather MacRae, Managing Director, Ideas Foundation: “It has been wonderful to see Burberry Inspire grow into an international creative experience. The opportunity for young people and schools to collaborate with world-class creative partners in Yorkshire and New York will provide them with an opportunity to be creative global citizens.”




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