There is a highly depressing article in the Guardian today entitled How deep do the arts council cuts go?
Although the whole article highlights time and time again the negative impact of the cuts on the arts, what really stands out for me is the cuts to the education departments.
By far the hardest-hit department is education. Laura Trevis, recently part of a team of 23, is now one of three. They used to run 24 education workshops a week; that’s down to eight. To cater to their 14,000 school visitors a year, she tells me, as she walks me through an exhibition on magic at Weston Park (themed around children’s literature, with a Narnia wardrobe and faux-fur coats), they will be offering training to teachers, so that they can guide their own pupils round the exhibits. She is upbeat about the possibilities, but admits: “I think schools may look for other places to take their pupils, at least initially.”
I completely emphasise with the difficult choices that have been made by Weston Park museum, this is deeply upsetting. For the education department is where young people will hopefully get a chance to really experience something hands on which will hopefully spark something within them.
As the article points out the creative industry is supposed to be the future for the UK economy. This, combined with how the education system does not value creativity was the basis of my MA dissertation. How do we expect an up and coming industry to grow if we are stifling the roots of that growth? If children do not get that exposure to the arts at a young age then when will they decide that they want to go into the arts as a career?
Obviously, as an arts administrator and a teacher I am against this sort of thing, however the government has got to look above its current predicament to the future. As for cutting the libraries, as an avid reader I am totally against this. Where I live we have excellent inter-library loans and I can get almost any book I require. Also, the libraries provide a greater service than just books – there is free access to the internet. While I was studying I applied for numerous shop jobs. Several of them required multiple application forms via the internet. This is fine for me, I have broadband and a modern computer, but what about those who do not? When in order to get a job at Boots or Debenahms they have to return to the computer several times, often several days apart. free and easy access to the internet is a vital service that the libraries provide.