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David Lan denounces ‘narrow’ approach to arts education

23rd June 2015

Young Vic artistic director David Lan has criticised the government’s “narrow” approach to arts in education.

Lan stressed the importance not only the intrinsic value of teaching the arts in schools, but of their impact on a child’s development elsewhere.

“If people have cultural education they get better at the other subjects as well. They are going to be better at science, technology, engineering and maths. The sense that one has from our ministers of education is very narrow in that they say, ‘Well the country needs mathematicians and engineers’. It is misunderstanding what education is,” he told The Stage.

“Of course teaching history is incredibly important. But the argument is, if people also use their minds and bodies and imaginations, then they are just better at everything else,” he added.

His comments follow government plans to implement the English Baccalaureate at GCSE level, in which pupils will be required to study “core” EBacc subjects – English, maths, science, a language and either history or geography.

The move has been criticised by arts leaders as “undermining” the place of the arts in education.

Lan was speaking at the launch of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries scheme, which will see 40 graduates undertake paid placements at 40 arts organisations across the UK, including the Donmar Warehouse, Sadler’s Wells, Opera North in Leeds and the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

In a speech at the event, Lan praised the scheme for offering young people from low-income backgrounds a route into the industry.

“It’s tougher than it’s ever been in my experience for young people, bursting with potential, to find the way in. Well, these Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries are ways in. Each is a little miracle, all 40 of them. And more, we hope, to come. Each an individual doorway.” he said

Read more on The Stage website