Author: Mimi Doulton

What’s your pledge?

National charity Action for Children’s Arts is inviting children and young people from across the country to send in a pledge for children’s arts.

Submissions will be used to compile a short pledge-card. This will be issued to politicians nationwide in the run up to the General Election, asking them to guarantee their commitment to providing a future for children’s arts in the UK. Participants can either send in a written or recorded/filmed pledge. Our favourite entries will be compiled into a sound-bite to help spread the message.

 

Here is an example to get you started: “Every child, every year: a play, a concert, a gallery, a museum.”

 

WE WELCOME SUBMISSIONS FROM ANYONE AGED 16 OR UNDER. CLOSING DATE IS 7PM ON MONDAY 8 MAY 2017.

 

How to get involved:

 

  1. Write 25 words that you think make a strong, snappy statement in support of all children in the UK having the chance to watch and participate in creative activities such as music, art, drama or dance.
  2. Create a 15 second audio recording or film that makes a bold statement in support of all children in the UK having the chance to watch and participate in creative activities such as music, art, drama or dance.

Ask a parent/guardian/carer to email your entry to: mimi.doulton@childrensarts.org.uk

In your email please include:

  • Entrant’s name
  • Entrant’s age
  • Entrant’s hometown
  • Contact email address
  • Permission from a parent/guardian/carer to share your submission. If you have sent a video, please state whether or not we may use your image.

 

This information will not be shared at any stage in the process.

 Please note that only the audio will be used from filmed entries unless permission is granted to use your image.

A Time to Dream

Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

How do today’s children discover themselves and the world when everything has to be calculated, tested and evaluated? Where is our next Isaac Newton, lying under a tree, seeing the apple drop, and that sudden imaginative leap of realisation that there was such a thing as gravity? Are children given the space and time to explore, ponder and even be bored?

Politicians pursue higher and higher attainment in education but downplay the arts: music and drama are non-existent in many schools. So where does imagination fit? We are urged to admire the Tiger mother and the high achievers of Singapore. As with the Olympics, we want to be top, top, top and bathe vicariously in the incredible achievements of the very few, thinking, “that could be me if I only work hard enough.” In India, with its expanding middle class, children feel they must now get to nearly 100% in their exams if they are to make it into the small number of “top” universities. I had a long conversation with a twelve year old boy on his way back to one of India’s most prestigious schools. I asked him how he liked school, and he said with deep contempt, “I’m sick of it.”

I loved seeing children sitting on the beach by the sea in a recent blog – but hoped that they weren’t then having to collate their experiences; over analyse, articulate and compile their thoughts, for the sole purpose of being marked and assessed. Inspiration is the sister word to Imagination. It may only be 1% of the creative process, but without it……so if those children were on the beach to be inspired, then hooray! That should be our model. Writing is about communication; a tool for every child to give voice to who they are: their ideas; their take on the world. They can tell their stories and communicate their excitement, aspirations, humour, and troubles. I often visit schools where teachers tell me proudly that they have given me their best pupils – and how talented so and so is, but I want to cry out – no – give me your “lowest achievers”; they are the ones who need to find their voice.

Children can be desperately lacking in confidence, with low self esteem, who feel their own lives have no value. So I would put the arts and creativity firmly at the heart of the curriculum. They open doors; bring surprises and, we know, impacts on all their other work. If we, as teachers, can reveal to children, especially those imprisoned within inner city classrooms surrounded by high, barbed-wire fences, that there is an extraordinary world out there, and that the voice of every single one of them is important – no matter how stammering or timid – then we will uncork all their potential, and they will discover it for themselves. Give our children time to dream.

This post was kindly contributed by ACA Patron, Jamila Gavin. It was originally written for Arvon Teachers as Writers.

Autumn Statement response

On 25 November 2015, Chancellor George Osborne delivered his autumn statement, announcing that funding for Arts Council England (ACE) will increase by around £10 million by 2019/2020. Other pledges included £150 million for The Science Museum, British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum to replace storage facilities; £78 million towards The Factory, Manchester and £4 million for Birmingham Arts Hub.

ACE chair, Sir Peter Bazalgette has acknowledged the importance of campaigners within the arts sector in this victory. The expected cuts have been avoided through the collaboration of ACE and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as well as through valuable nationwide campaigns such as What Next?’s arts4britain campaign.

Whilst cuts to local governments, changes to the education system and on-going devolution leave much work to do, this is a moment to celebrate the impact of a unified campaign to protect arts and culture in this country.