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David Puttnam

Darcey Bussell and Lord Puttnam issue ‘wake-up’ call over children excluded from the Arts

Wake up call for the Arts

25 January, 2017

Darcey Bussell and Lord Puttnam issue ‘wake-up’ call over children excluded from the Arts

Leading arts figures including Lord Puttnam and Darcey Bussell have warned that a decline in the number of children taking arts subjects in schools could condemn a generation of young people to poverty.

“It is essential that access to arts is a right and not a privilege.” Lord Puttnam, chair of the Cultural Learning Alliance The filmmaker and the Strictly Come Dancing judge presented a report which detailed how access to the arts at school, currently in decline, can drastically improve the life chances of the four million UK children estimated to live in poverty.

Actress Fiona Shaw and the artist Grayson Perry also attended the launch at Parliament for the Imagine Nation report, published by the Cultural Learning Alliance.

‘Wake-up call’ for the arts

The report found that students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree. Participation in structured arts activities can increase cognitive abilities by 17%, boosting attainment in Maths and English whilst also developing skills and behaviour that improve a child’s school performance.

Lord Puttnam said the report was a “wake-up” call for the importance of protecting the arts curriculum for children living in poverty.

The Alliance noted that Theresa May’s interventionist Industrial Policy announced this week made no direct reference to the arts, although it did make the creative industries – from film to music and computer games – a key pillar in the new strategy.

Decline in children taking arts

Lord Puttnam, Chair of the Alliance, warned: “There has been a decline in the number of children taking part in arts subjects in schools, a reduction in arts teaching hours; and fewer arts teachers employed in schools in England.

“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 Oscar-winner added: “This is a wake-up call. More than a quarter of all children live in poverty in the UK and for 1.7 million children that poverty is severe.” “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.”

Ms Bussell spoke to the audience of MPs and ministers about the power of the arts to transform the lives of children and families.

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.

The report was endorsed by figures including former arts minister Ed Vaizey, David Lan, Director, The Young Vic and Robert Peston, ITV Political Editor. 

Source: iNews

Written by: Adam Sherwin