An up-and-coming singer has been chosen alongside the likes of Sir Simon Schama, Melvyn Bragg and Naughty Boy in a new arts initiative.

Pallab Sarker, from Walthamstow, goes alongside these celebrated names from arts and culture in campaign bring artists and arts organisations into schools across the capital.

The Artists in Residence campaign has been created by UK teacher Andria Zafirakou, winner of the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018, who works in the Alperton Community School in Brent.

She says: “Pallab was one of the first artists I asked to join the Artists in Residence programme. I’m a big fan of his beautiful music and love the songs from his debut album Grey Day.

“I can hear the spirit of London in his music. He is a genuine songbird, whose sensitive sounds and touching melodies ooze with emotion, speaking straight to the hearts of his listeners.

“When he attended the launch of the Artists in Residence programme unsurprisingly our students really connected with his music. I’m now very much looking forward to seeing Pallab bring his boundless energy and talent into classrooms across London, where he can hopefully inspire many kids to pick up an instrument and start writing songs.”

Those involved will work with schools for a fixed period – ranging from a day to a full academic year. The campaign will seek to involve people operating in the arts at all levels - from major music and movie stars, world leading arts organisations, through to grass roots projects and local up-and-coming individual artists.

Pallab, who recently launched his debut album Grey Day, recorded at the intimate Cabin Studio in Walthamstow Village, says: “With music venues shutting down in central London the creative rebirth of the city is happening in places like Croydon and Peckham. Where I live in Walthamstow there is artistic talent in every pub, with the stages packed full of musicians, actors and comics.

“I have met some very talented people that really want to give back to their communities, in particular share their gifts with young people. Schools are a great place to connect with the next generation and hopefully inspire them to bring the arts into their lives.

“I encourage all creative talent in East London to get involved and sign up to the Artists in Residence scheme”.

Those involved include historian Sir Simon Schama, broadcaster and author Melvyn Bragg and musician and record producer Naughty Boy (who has collaborated with musicians including Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Emeli Sande). Other early backers included Michael Craig-Martin (artist), Jeremy Deller and Mark Wallinger (Turner Prize winning artists), Gavin Turk (artist), Meredith Ostrom (actress and artist), Marios Papadopoulos (music director of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra) and Cinta Miller (celebrity stylist and makeup artist).

In March this year Andria Zafiralou was declared winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018, selected from over 30,000 nominations and applications from 173 countries around the world. The $1 million award is the largest prize of its kind, and was set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.

Adriana adds: “I hope this can be a true classroom revolution. Meeting artists in the crucible of the classroom is a powerful way to awaken a passion for the arts in young people. It can help them discover hidden artistic talents and perhaps even encourage them to continue studying expressive arts subjects.

“Subjects such as art, music, and drama are being squeezed out the curriculum at a time when they have never been more important. They’re not only essential for personal growth and self-understanding but they also teach young people to think creatively, learn to communicate effectively and build resilience. All these skills will be important for the jobs that they are likely to do when they leave school.

“Too often, we also neglect the power of the arts to transform lives for the better, particularly in the poorest communities. The arts are inclusive, help to build confidence and can be especially therapeutic for those with difficult and stressful lives.”

The Artist in Residence scheme is being launched in London before being rolled out nationally. Andria is hoping the nation’s capital can use its pulling power as a hub for globally renowned artists and arts organisations to help firmly establish the scheme.

Ms Zafirakou will use funds from the $1 million she received for winning the Global Teacher Prize to set up and manage the scheme. In addition, she is seeking out additional partners and sponsors. The community of artists and organizations will be convened through an online platform created and managed by Andria. Schools will apply to be matched with an artist or organisation, depending on their need and capacity.