Arts and culture campaign slams decline in arts education

Cultural Learning Alliance launches new report

Campaigners have stepped up their demand that the government take action to stop the decline in arts education in England.

The Cultural Learning Alliance claims that young people will be “intellectually poorer, emotionally more limited, and socially more isolated” unless they are allowed access to a full range of arts and culture.

“We cannot allow this to happen: we must act now to ensure that the next generation is given all the tools it needs to build a stronger, healthier society.”

In a new report, Imagine Nation, the CLA’s cites recent figures which show a decline in the number of children in England taking arts subjects, a reduction in arts teaching hours and fewer arts teachers employed in schools. The report also points out that local council cuts have devastated culture programmes for young people.  

In its report, the CLA says that taking part in structured arts activities increases cognitive abilities and that students who study arts subjects are more employable.

It adds that students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree.

Lord Puttnam, chair of the Cultural Learning Alliance, said the report was a wakeup call. He said: “This report clearly demonstrates that the arts empower children, create a culture of citizenship and help them to achieve their true potential. It is essential that access to arts is a right and not a privilege.

“We are calling for everyone to work together to ensure more commitment, more focus and more action to protect and expand the arts curriculum in schools.”

The report is backed by Sir Nicholas Serota, the outgoing Tate director who will next month become chair of Arts Council England.

Serota said experience of art and culture in school can shape all lives. “Creativity is ... one of the essential ingredients of a rich and tolerant society and of personal and national identity. It should be one of the cornerstones of education, not an option or an afterthought,” he said.

Other endorsements come from former arts minister Ed Vaizey, David Lan, Director, The Young Vic and Robert Peston, ITV Political Editor.

The Cultural Learning Alliance represents more than 10,000 organisations and individuals concerned with cultural education across the UK and is campaigning for the right to culture for every child as a cornerstone of national policy.

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