From workshops and studio tuition to University degrees, the provision could hardly be bettered, offering as it does a sound foundation in visual and performance arts, design and architecture, as well as a wide spread into the moving image, sculpture, installation, sound art, interactive and conceptual art, plus all the disciplines associated with the latest digital technologies. As well as offering fine formal education provision, the region is also rich in workshops, study centres, galleries and studios which themselves offer learning programmes not just for those seeking career opportunities but to anyone seeking the unique joy of being creative for the pleasure of it. Many are showcased in this, and indeed every, issue of Venue.
The schools featured in this issue demonstrate how the arts are very much at the centre of their curriculum, with creativity regarded as an essential part of the learning process, and the development of ‘the whole person’. Such an enlightened approach has brought them success and is to be lauded in the current climate of uncertainty surrounding the place of arts education in the plans for a new National Curriculum. The very lively debate on this subject continues, with many voices raised in favour of the arts being at the heart of the curriculum rather than marginalised as an ‘option’ subject.
The importance to the UK of the arts and creative industries is unquestionable – their contribution to the economy has topped £36 billion annually, and they have created upwards of 1.5 million jobs. And that
is in addition to the acknowledged contribution art and culture make in
enriching all our lives and reinforcing a sense of local community. It is facts
such as these that led to the formal commitment made by our politicians to
young people to ‘ensure that (they) have access to the very best tuition and support they need to
fulfil their potential and to promote a skilled workforce in the arts sector,
including a world-class education workforce’. It is timely to remind said politicians of this promise in the run-up to a
General Election. There will be many in the arts and wider community who
deplore the damage already done to arts education by the closure of many
courses, and who will be keeping a close eye on the future plans for the sector
as they are being finalised.
We know that arts education in our region is a tremendous resource. We must all work to ensure that it continues to flourish.
Fran Goss Editor