What role should the arts and culture sector have in education?

What role should the arts and culture sector have in education?


Over 10 years ago I approached two ministers that were in government, Chris Smith who was then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and David Blunkett who was Secretary of State for Education and said we absolutely have to bring
these two departments together to discuss creativity in schools, not
just arts education but creativity wholesale, that
we’re not really giving our children an
opportunity not just to have an academic ladder but to have a creative ladder and unless we do that we’re squandering the talent of young people squandering the opportunity to use the
creativity of all subjects and we aren’t using the Arts as an ingredient in creativity i.e. not just arts education but the role of
Arts in helping unlock subjects of all kinds from geography through to political science. Out of that came an agreement to form a
committee, which I helped form – I asked Ken Robinson if he would chair it – and we created a report called “All our
futures” which really was radical look at how education from nursery straight through to tertiary could use the arts and creativity in a
very very specific, fundamental way changing the way that schools thought and
operated. It was a report that was lauded by many and
then sort of stuck on a shelf and not really implemented by government
because actually it was quite scary in terms of
the radical changes it was suggesting. I say that because it isn’t new, a conversation about arts education in
schools, it isn’t new, an idea about creativity in
schools, but we have to keep returning to the
subject because again and again we’re seeing children being failed at school and yet
the opportunities that we could bring them are so obvious because when they have those opportunities in other contexts, in arts institutions
for example, we can see they suddenly can flourish
and contribute enormously to the life that they want to lead, the life of their communities, and the economic potential of this country. So having done so often the conversation with a Secretary of State for Education, or with a Secretary of State for Culture, that goes “shouldn’t we be doing
more” I gave a TED talk a couple of years ago where I basically said actually I need to rethink the level of
commitment arts organizations are giving to education. We do, at Southbank Centre,
all my life I have done lots and lots of work with schools, with colleges, with community groups that
brought them into a situation of using our
institutions for the purpose of creative education. But I always thought of that as in parallel with school but I’ve moved
beyond that now I feel that we have to do something
radical ourselves.

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