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SPANA are one of our favourite charities; they provide support for working animals and their owners in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Thanks to all the customers who have helped us raise over £1,000 a year for this worthy cause.

SPANA e-news:

  • Please click here to see the latest news from SPANA
  • Project Water Trough 2012: Please click here for more information and how to donate now

SPANA'S mission is to improve the welfare of working animals in the world's poorest communities.  With so many people in less developed parts of the world reliant on animals such as horses, mules, donkeys, camels and oxen for their work and ultimately survival, these animals are often overworked in extreme temperatures, with inadequate food and veterinary care.  They lead short lives, with many in constant pain.  SPANA improve the lives of these animals by creating a culture of respect and compassion towards the animals through educating their owners, whilst providing much needed free veterinary care.



Arco is a collaborative project between Cape Gate MIAGI Music Centre, ( a music project in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa and Birmingham Conservatoire Strings Department.

Arco is aiming to provide the benefits and life changing inspiration of music to children in the most deprived circumstances. Music is a powerful tool transcending both language and cultural boundaries. It can develop creativity, self-esteem, a sense of achievement and facilitate social cohesion. Arco will be providing transformative music education activities led by Birmingham Conservatoire musicians, acting as role models for vulnerable youngsters living in areas deeply affected by poverty and crime.

Over the next year, twenty-four selected students (6 string quartets) from MIAGI will participate in weekly instrumental Skype lessons given by teachers at Birmingham Conservatoire in addition to their music lessons in South Africa. They will also benefit from 1-2-1 mentoring and string quartet coaching.

Live event streaming of master classes, workshops and performances taking place within the Strings Department at Birmingham Conservatoire will provide a revelatory level of inspiration, international awareness and participation.

The year will conclude for the participants with a 10-day immersive ARCO festival hosted at the Cape Gate MIAGI Music Centre in Soweto, South Africa with Birmingham Conservatoire Musicians. A festival including concerts, classes, chamber music coaching, workshops and performance opportunities will take place.

The hope is that this project will provide a level of inspiration and education that is not readily available in South Africa, thereby encouraging young and talented musicians to aspire to the highest level of performance and instill a deep love of music.

Arco seek sponsorship for the twenty-four instruments required for the project, twelve violins, six violas and six cellos.

All instrument donors will receive a letter from the child playing the instrument, and a CD recording of the participants following our visit in the summer of 2016.

If you would like to sponsor a quartet of instruments, your business or personal name will be attached to that particular group of instruments.

Arco are not looking for high quality instruments, but those that are workable and decent.

If you would like to provide an instrument or donate please email or


An update from Arco:

It has been some time since you donated to our Arco project - and you are overdue an update! 
We have not been resting on our laurels …

The Skype lessons have started in earnest - despite a delay due to technical issues in Soweto - and 24 students are now receiving 30 minute lessons on a weekly basis from UK teachers over Skype.

Louise Lansdown has just returned from Soweto where she has been monitoring the students progress, and reviewing the project.

In August 10 teachers from the UK will be travelling to South Africa to deliver our Arco festival. 
26 instruments are almost on their way to South Africa pending final import beaurocracy. 

As well as your donations, we have been fortunate to receive a sizeable amount from the Radcliffe Trust.

The Gildas quartet, (our chamber music tutors) have received an Arts Council Artist International Development Fund grant to travel to South Africa - part of their trip will include work for the Arco project. 

You can see a profile of all our students and teachers on this document.

And a video outlining the project on our web page here.

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook …. where you can see photos of our lessons in action…

Many thanks for all your support .. We continue our fundraising and plan s further visit to Soweto, so please continue to pass on the word.
Birmingham students have been busy with fundraising activities - running the distance of the South African coastline, car boot sales, even a bungee jump is planned - details for contributions can be found on our webpage.