Express & Star

Black Country born comedy and TV star backs opera initiative for young people in Sandwell

West Bromwich born comedian and television personality Frank Skinner is backing a three year project that aims to celebrate the diverse communities of Sandwell through music and performance.

Dave Hill who is helping to promote the song writing contest in the Sandwell Creates project as well as Frank Skinner
Frank Skinner - Picture David Monteith

Launched last month, Sandwell Creates has the backing of Birmingham Opera Company and aims to work with the diverse communities in and around the borough providing opportunities through professional mentoring and creative activity. The ultimate aim is to stage a large-scale performance involving hundreds of people from the borough in two years time.

It includes a song-writing competition for young people aged 16-26 in which three winners will see their ideas made into a performance, video or audio recording and shared publicly –Slade's Dave Hill is also backing it as well as Sandwell Council.

Dave Hill who is helping to promote the song writing contest in the Sandwell Creates project as well as Frank Skinner

London based Skinner, who received the MBE from Princess Anne earlier this month and is on a UK tour is well known for his love of football and West Bromwich Albion and is a regular visitor to the area where his family still lives

Less known is his love of opera which he discovered after he’d moved to London and rented an office around the corner from the Royal Opera House where he went to see a performance and said he was 'blown away.'

Of the Sandwell Creates project he said: “I love the idea that Birmingham Opera Company is breaking down barriers and stereotypes in the arts by involving the diverse communities in Sandwell.

"Opera tells stories with words and music and I’m excited to see what Sandwell stories and music turn up.

"Providing all these resources, training and events at a time when access to the arts is decreasing for young people is a real boost.

" I hope anyone who wants to build their confidence, have a go at performing. or even dreams of making music their career takes up the opportunities on offer.

“The truth is, if this opportunity had been around when I was growing up in Sandwell, I might not have had the courage to get involved – I’d have been worried I wouldn’t fit in or that I’d embarrass myself.

"Then, years later, I’d have been an adult who really regretted not being braver and finding out what I was capable of.

"Believe me, it’s better to risk a little bit of embarrassment than a lot of regret so I would say go for it."

The closing date for the competition is 10pm, on Sunday April 28.

Anyone interested in applying should visit

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