It is a strange thing how we behave in this Country, isn’t it? Responsible caring parents see the development of their children in the early days to be through arty type activities. Out of the cupboard comes the paper, the coloured pencils, crayons, felt tip pens, paint & paintbrushes, colouring books, fuzzy felt, puzzles, building blocks, and all the like. Child drawings are prodigiously produced, seen as brilliant productions if not long-term art fodder, posted on doors & walls with sticky tape, and admired by family & visitors galore. The children of course go on then to Nursery and later to Junior school and their artistic talents are encouraged wholesale there, and their creative abilities extensively explored and developed.
How that all changes though these days when our children move up to Secondary school, doesn’t it? The problem is that the majority of us individually don’t actually have any artistic talents whatsoever, so we don’t give that branch of study for our children the time of day, perhaps? Oh yes, art, performing arts, film studies, and the like (studied by the many thousands of adolescents nevertheless) are nowadays deemed to be ‘unusual’ & ‘soft subjects’ (despite the fact that they challenge intellect) because they are not highly academic – how many top nuclear physicists can made a clay pot let alone hold a violin, or paint any kind of picture, or invent a sculpture, you might ask? Perhaps, all students should have arts education as part of their studies?
A year ago a report claimed poorer pupils in state schools are forced to drop & ditch studying arts GCSE subjects (like art, music, photography, textiles design & technology) due to the costs of equipment & extra materials needed [those that soldier-on end up with significantly lower grades of course]. Perhaps poverty produces better artists?
There is strong evidence that poorer children get better results, employment, and life through arts’ studies – so the narrowing of such options badly effects particularly them.
Children choosing their study options at GCSE (& indeed A-level) on the basis of cost rather than their personal talent, has got to be some form of madness, wouldn’t you say? The latest Warwick University report says that over a decade from 2003 there have been massive drops of up to half in exams taken for design & technology, drama, and craft areas. In the first three years of our Coalition Government there has been a further fifteen percent drop in arts GCSE studiers Also now a tenth of all art teachers have bitten the dust and visual art education is heading to the bottom of the cliff, don’t you think?
There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the economic future of our society will be based on science and most of our children have to get involved and to grips with it – that is what technology has led us into to hasn’t it? However, arts, visual arts, dance, music and those aspects make an essential contribution that enhances others’ lives and improves pupils’ general performances, no less (perhaps because of the balance and influence of cultural activities?).
Don’t worry will you, the upper and middle classes will still be able to pay for their children’s’ music lessons (and buy them instruments), or enroll them in expensive art classes (and purchase all necessary materials), or book theater performances (and get them to the West End), or visit museums (particularly on the Continent) – who needs the State Working Class artists, anyway eh?
Access to the Arts is a growing problem despite its special status, and important enrichment of people, and illumination of our emotional lives, and under the current government the money spent on the Arts has halved in five years – we may be in a period of austerity but surely that drop in the ocean will not have helped anyone, while nevertheless damaging our innate culture?
The only time art seems to get a look-in these days in Britain is when the super rich pay multi-millions of pounds for old artworks that were created predominately by penniless artistic geniuses [They don’t gaze at it, or enjoy it in any way of course do they? No, it simply goes as a possession into a bank vault to increase in value].
[Art generates feelings in people – perhaps modern society would prefer to eliminate that?]