The Arts Society provides children and young people with exciting opportunities to get involved in creative arts activities. Our work with young people builds a lasting enthusiasm for the arts and an awareness of arts heritage and its conservation.

Young Arts opportunities are organised by individual Societies. Some Societies have on-going Young Arts Groups while others fund one-off Young Arts Projects.

Young Arts Groups

Young Arts Groups are Society based. Volunteers organise regular arts related activities for members aged 8-18. Young Arts Groups usually meet about once a month and a typical programme might include practical, creative workshops and gallery visits.

Young Arts Projects

The Arts Societies conduct a wide range of Young Arts Projects ranging from running arts awards to funding artists in residence in primary schools.

Totnes Activities

Last year we were pleased to sponsor ‘The People’s Choice Award’ for the inaugural exhibition of Young Art Devon, giving vouchers for Hobbycraft to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd winners.

Following its hugely successful first year the exhibition returned in 2019 and we have agreed to sponsor  the ‘People’s Choice’ again. All money raised is donated to the charity’s Kids & Teens appeal as part of Cancer Research UK, which exclusively funds research into children’s cancers. The theme for this year is Our World and all Devon schools have been sent information on how to take part.  The exhibition took place on the weekend of 3-5th May at Torre Abbey, Torquay.  Over 400 young artists from local schools had their work exhibited and over £2000 has been raised for Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens.  The winners of the 'People’s Choice Award' were 1st Maizy, aged 7; 2nd Archie, aged 6 and 3rd Amelie, aged 14.  Pictures of the winning works can been seen in the Gallery.  For more information visit

TAST supported the touring theatre company The Wrong Crowd – creators of inventive, playful and compelling new theatre - in its staging of their critically acclaimed production KITE at Dartington Hall on 15 and 16 Feb 2019.

KITE is a play without words, accessible to both deaf and hearing audiences of all ages, with originally composed music, dance, puppetry and, of course, kites.
The important concept of this production was that the play was accessible to children of all ages and, after the performances, children in the audience were encouraged to meet the puppets and the actors.
TAST’s modest donation to The Wrong Company was to show our support for a small but innovative theatre company that chose Dartington as one of the venues for their play and the afternoon performances made it accessible to local children.


4th Aug 2019

During the May 2019 half term the Totnes branch funded a creative arts workshop for adopted and looked after children. The all-day session, held at the Apricot Centre, was attended by eleven 8-16 year olds and their support workers. The aim was to engage with a hard to reach group of young people and use art and nature to help improve their wellbeing by showing them easy creative techniques that could help dissipate stress and anxiety.

The children were shown work by a range of different artists, both fine art and modern textile artists, and used them as inspiration to create  wall hangings to be used in the community space in Apricot’s Training Centre.  They foraged for plants to make natural dyes for cotton strips that were then woven on to willow frames that they had also made, and created this textile art:  see on left screen.

29th Aug 2019

As part of our remit as a charity, TAST opted to support a student attending the 2019 Dartington Summer School of Music. Our modest contribution of £250 towards a student bursary enabled Betty Makharinsky, a British-Russian soprano, to attend choral and vocal courses for three weeks of the month-long Summer School. (photo see Gallery)

 Two Committee members, Andrea and Gina, were invited to sit in on a vocal master class mentored by the internationally acclaimed contralto, Hilary Summers, during which we heard the beautiful soprano voice of Betty as she performed two arias. We had anticipated a rather formal and studious session, but how wrong we were!  Under Hilary’s amazing tutelage, we were privileged to witness her minute, but light-touch and humorous, dissection and critique of Betty’s performance; what to our ears had previously sounded lovely just blossomed into wonderfulness.

 We were also invited to the Dartington performance of Benjamin Britten’s ‘Turn of the Screw’ in which Betty played Flora, demonstrating not only her beautiful voice but her acting skills as well.

Betty Makharinsky is a delightful young British-Russian who, with the aid of a choral scholarship, gained a First-Class degree in Music from Exeter College, Oxford University before training at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London.  Betty’s enthusiasm for all aspects of music – contemporary, opera, choral, classical – means that she performs extensively with professional choirs and consorts both here in the UK and in Europe and USA.

On behalf of TAST, we wish Betty all the very best for a great future in music.


Dartington International Summer School: report of the bursary student experience 2019 

We are very grateful to The Arts Society (Totnes Branch) for their support of Betty Makharinsky’s bursary place (week 2) at this year’s Dartington International Summer School.  In Week 2 Betty studied in Hilary Summer’s masterclass and performed in Handel’s Saul.  Betty also, later in the programme sang in the Opera Gala and The Turn Of The Screw alongside other students of the Advanced Opera Course and joined the choir for the premier of Eleanor Alberga’s new choral commission ‘Awed Light its chant entrances’ as a farewell to Joanna Macgregor after five years as the Artistic Director of the Summer School.

 Here is Betty’s message of thanks to The Arts Society (Totnes Branch), I hope your members enjoy reading about how the bursary grant made a significant difference to this young performer;

 I am incredibly grateful for your kind and generous support. I have had such a special time at Dartington and to be able to do so without worrying about the financial burden of a summer course is invaluable. It really allowed me to focus wholly on my musical preparation. I am very proud to have been part of this Festival and Summer School - thank you once again for making it possible.

 Betty spoke of the most valuable aspects of her time at the Summer School;

 Preparing and coaching Saul with Laurence Cummings was really valuable and enjoyable for me. The time that we had with him was packed full of useful and inspiring information.

Highlights of the course, for Betty were; 

 For me, a big highlight was the chance to listen to wonderful concerts alongside our own classes and rehearsals. I particularly loved Gill's recorder recital and Hilary's vocal recital. Both were performed with striking dedication and virtuosity, and evidently had been crafted with great care.

When asked how the Dartington learning experience compared to other music courses Betty had taken, she expressed;

 The Dartington setting is really beautiful and all of the studios and rehearsal spaces were very nice to sing and be in. I found the schedule very relaxed and would have been keen to have more contact time, but realise the necessity to prioritise the choir and orchestral rehearsals. The calibre of the tutors was very high. More structure would have also been appreciated.

 We then asked Betty in what ways she felt that the course contributed to her development as a musician and to her professional development?

 I am really grateful for the chance to sing a substantial Handel role with a Baroque band. The experience was really exhilarating, and I hope that it might open doors to similar opportunities in the future, as this is what I love doing! To be able to collaborate with great singers, as well as a top conductor, and to perform as part of a festival with a great reputation, is an invaluable performance and development opportunity at this stage of my career.

 Thank you once again to The Arts Society (Totnes Branch) for the £250 grant that helped allow this wonderful experience at the Summer School to be possible for Betty Makharinsky.