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Act now to halt a 50% slash to arts education

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Thomas Merton summed it up perfectly. Art is the journey to self – not just for an individual but for a people. For a nation. The arts are at the heart of any culture. 

Whether it’s dance, music, theatre, film, writing, design, architecture – when we create, we express what it means to be truly human. When we perform, we share what it means to be us. Our English heritage is rich with culture, fine art, beautiful prose, powerful performance.

Of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said “Every artist was first an amateur”. While talent has a role to play in the development of any artist, so does education.

That’s why we couldn’t be more shocked to have heard today’s news: the government plans to slash funding for arts education by almost 50%! 

In a move described by the Musicians Union as catastrophic, education secretary Gavin Williamson proposed redirecting the funds to subject he termed higher “strategic priorities”.

The flailing arts economy is already reeling from an unprecedented year of lockdown but has already started to overcome with legendary resilience, adapting to the new landscape with digital shows, online experiences and more. Now, more than ever, the arts need education to empower the sector to pivot towards our “new normal” and adapt to face the challenges that lie ahead. 

Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker points out that those likely to be most affected by this disastrous move will be students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, leaving these students even further behind.

Surely this is the last thing we need after the year we’ve had?

Today is the last day for comment on legislation that has been hastily drafted and has not included consultation with key stakeholders in the sector. As a result, arts and cultures campaigners have launched Campaign for the Arts, a petition to halt the proposal. Find out more and have your say here.