Speaking at the BRIT Performing Arts and Technology School in Croydon whose pupils have excellent opportunities to study the performing arts, Mrs Gillan said: 'Specialist arts colleges are an exciting new way of tapping the wealth of talent in the arts for which we have a world-wide reputation.
'Schools aiming to become specialist arts colleges will have a sound three year plan to develop teaching in the arts, increase pupil participation and improve examination results.
'Their pupils will have a unique opportunity to develop their creative skills. For some it will be discovering latent talent; others will be building on what they have already achieved while those with the greatest potential will be given the chance to achieve the highest standards of which they are capable.
'Sponsors will have an important role to play in the life of a specialist arts college. No doubt many of them will come from the arts. Not only will they contribute to the physical improvement of the schools' facilities through the sponsorship itself, the specialist advice and professional knowledge of the world of the arts can be of great benefit to school management, pupils and the community.
'Schools bidding to become specialist arts colleges can of course also bid for national lottery funding. The national lottery provides a significant source of funding and successful bidders will have the opportunity to greatly enhance their facilities and deliver development plans that are ambitious and stretching.
'The pupils at BRIT have a wonderful opportunity to study a wide range of subjects relating to the performing arts. The college particularly emphasises the use of technology in the arts and I know that the students greatly enjoy their studies in this stimulating environment. I hope that the launch of the arts college initiative will give students in many other schools similar opportunities and enjoyment.
'I am sure many schools who are ready to build on their achievements so far and have a desire to provide better facilities in the arts for their pupils and the community will welcome the opportunity to obtain specialist arts college status. I look forward to receiving their applications.'