The importance of education in the battle against elitism in the arts was among the issues debated during the BBC’s Arts Question Time programme on Sunday.
Six panellists joined an audience of arts lovers and presenter Kirsty Wark (pictured) at the Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House, London, for the Question Time-style debate, which was broadcast on BBC Four.
To a question from an audience member about the danger of careers in the arts being available only to the privileged and wealthy, novelist Jeanette Winterson responded: ‘It starts with education, and it has to. We have to make kids in schools feel that art is for them.
‘Every child on this planet that ever was, across time, is born creative,’ added the author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. ‘They’ll paint a picture and stick it on the fridge; they’ll make a kingdom out of pots and pans; they’ll do a little dance; they’ll tell a story. That’s hard wired, it’s our creative DNA, and we knock it out of them. We say, that’s not for you, it’s elitist, it’s only for people with money. And it’s absolutely false.’
Wark made reference to a report published in February by the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, which showed a marked decline in the number of children taking arts subjects at GCSE.
Artist Cornelia Parker said: ‘My daughter is 13 and starting to think about her GCSEs at the Camden School for Girls. I did a lecture there and a lot of the students were saying, I’m not going to do A-level art because it’s going to bring our school down, it’s not going to be useful as an A-level.’ She added that she felt arts subjects were being ‘demoted’.
The other panellists were Rupert Goold, artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in London; Jamal Edwards, founder of youth culture channel SBTV; Charles Saumarez Smith, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Arts; and Yancey Strickler, co-founder of crowdfunding website Kickstarter.
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