We are featuring, for instance, fine examples in the vibrant and highly rated Peterborough School and Gainsborough House; the printmaking workshops
at Sea Pictures Gallery; and the wide-ranging programme of arts-based courses at Flatford Mill. We also report the success of Saffron Hall, a £10m world-class auditorium in the heart of a state comprehensive which attracts leading orchestras and artistes, as well running a pioneering learning and participation programme enabling hundreds of school children to take part in performance and backstage roles.
We have regularly commented on the damage to arts education being caused by the closure of many education courses, and in this issue on page 28 we are shining a light on plans to close The Cass Faculty of London Metropolitan University’s Musical Instruments programme. This is an historical course, the only one of its kind in the world, and it would be a disaster for the future of musical instruments if it closes. Go to www.savethecass.org to link to the petition ‘help save the Cass’.
In addition The National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) launched the findings of its 2015-16 survey on 9th February. NSEAD is the leading national authority concerned with art, craft and design education in the United Kingdom and is the UK affiliate of the International Society for Education through Art, a UNESCO non-governmental organisation. The report was carried out during 16 June to 22 July 2015 and involved 1191 teachers, lecturers and co-ordinators of art, craft and design. Their report is some ways a depressing reflection of the state of art and design education in the country. One aspect is that art and design teaching-staff are demoralised; partly due to a feeling that their subject has been devalued. This is may also be due to the attitude of the Department of Education to the Arts. Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education, suggested that a child’s higher education and career opportunities would be limited by studying art and design, and
that the way to remain open to career and educational opportunities is to study
the STEM curriculum; the idea of educating students in four specific
disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. What is more,
this compounded by the drive to implement The English Baccalaureate (EBacc);
awarded to students who secure a grade C or above at GCSE level across core
academic subjects – English, mathematics, history, geography, the sciences and a foreign language
which means art and design subjects get squeezed off the timetable. It seems to
be a rather desperate situation. The NSEAD report can be read in full at:
www.nsead.org/downloads/survey.pdf. It makes interesting reading and let’s hope that the Department of Education responds favourably.
Given the importance to our country of the major contribution the arts and creative industries make to our economy – a contribution which has topped £36 billion annually and created more than 1.5 million jobs – it is obviously vital to keep these industries healthy. Very often the negative moves such as funding reductions and closure of courses do not get enough exposure to generate effective action against them. You can help us to put this right by bringing any such moves to our attention so that together we can ensure that arts and culture in our own and the wider community continue to flourish.
We at Venue are passionate about our role in providing the eastern region’s creative community with their own showcase, supporting artists and arts venues, and facilitating cooperation and networking between practitioners in different art forms that will encourage originality, innovation and excellence. We value your news and opinions and are always delighted to hear from you!
Fran Goss Editor