How much is creativity in school worth?

How much is creativity in school worth?

In 2022, The Guardian reported that each year just £9.40 is allocated per student for all music, arts, and cultural programmes. I find that statistic deeply shocking. I don't really know where to begin... 

How could the arts, which is a massive global industry, be so undervalued? Even if you don't visit galleries or don't appreciate framed artwork, the arts will touch your life in multiple ways each day. From the media you consume: created by set-designers, costume-makers, make-up artists, directors, actors, musicians, composers; to the  spaces we inhabit, created by architects, interior designers, to the people who design the objects we use, the artwork that adorns the walls. I could go on… 

How can we be so shortsighted? I really thought that the Covid lockdowns did some important work to redress this balance. It was the arts that got us through wasn't it?

So when you get invited to run an art workshop in a school, you know they have had to work HARD to get you there and be creative with their funding. It was a real honour to be invited back to Haslingfield Primary School to give them an art experience for their big draw day. It was paid for by their PTFA, the school funding doesn’t even cover the cost of paper to draw on! 

I wanted to give the children an experience that they wouldn't normally get. To give them a chance to work together collaboratively instead of working individually and constantly measuring them. In spite of pressure to produce something we could show, we focused on the experience of observing with our senses- no response being better or more "right" than any other. I was totally blown away by how willing the children were to experience something completely different. How trusting and committed. We spent a lot of time discussing observation and what our senses can tell us. The layers of resistance, judgement and self-protection that adults put in place haven't yet been fully-formed in children, so we were able to reach some really beautiful focused observation very quickly.

I'm so grateful to Katherine Woodard, who is the Art co-ordinator, working across many schools. It's a complete luxury to have an art specialist who makes it her mission to enrich the children's artistic experiences. It was also very wonderful to see 30 children with such incredible focus, really connect with sounds and objects from the local environment. My aim was for them to develop a personal relationship with the most ordinary natural things. Plants, birdsong, feathers, cones and more which they had gathered in their local woods. Until they really see and experience these things with all their complexity and beauty they may not value them in the same way and that can have a very real effect on what they choose to protect and how they view the environment in the future.

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