6 November – English National Opera (ENO) today announces I am Here, a creative photography project at the London Coliseum.

Driven by ENO’s learning and participation department Baylis, seats in the closed auditorium have been emblazoned with self-portraits by Year 7 students from 7 schools across Liverpool and London, providing a unique opportunity to showcase the creative talents of 700 participating pupils in a world-famous building. These will be seen during BBC Two’s broadcast of Mozart’s Requiem, recorded without a live audience at the London Coliseum and airing to a lockdown television audience on 14 November at 19.00.

This year has been an especially challenging time for young people making the transition from Primary to Secondary School. I am Here provides an opportunity for these Year 7 students to create their own self-portrait at this transition point – offering an optimistic way of introducing themselves to their new school, peers and teachers.

Each of the digital works were created in response to resources and lesson plans developed by ENO Baylis in conjunction with Visual Artist and Educator Chris Webb and delivered by teachers. It’s part of Baylis’ commitment to developing skills in young people across the creative arts.

The Cultural Arts Lead at Riverside School, Barking commented: ‘Being a part of this project was an absolutely exciting opportunity for our students. By the end of it our students modelled a new sense of confidence and self-esteem.’

The Head of Music at Kingsbury High School, Brent said: ‘It was lovely to see the pride students take in these workshops, but also feeling they are being listened to and taken seriously. We saw some great teamwork for the busier photos, which involved some of the more outgoing students, but it helped some shy students come out of their shell building their self-confidence, asking for more photos to be taken.’ 

The schools participating in I am Here are:

  • Ark Elvin Academy, Brent
  • The Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Liverpool
  • Greatfields School, Barking
  • Kingsbury High School, Brent
  • Kings Leadership Academy, Liverpool
  • Oasis Academy Silvertown, Newham
  • Riverside School, Barking

Baylis is the ENO’s learning and participation programme, integral to the company’s vision. Inspired by the socially driven work of ENO’s founder, Lilian Baylis, the Baylis programme is rooted in the belief that opera and the arts can make a positive difference to people’s lives. Each year, Baylis works in collaboration with up to 15 partner schools in London and nationally, working to nurture creativity across the curriculum and helping to ensure that the arts are able to flourish and develop within school.