A UK body called the Creative Industry Alliance is pressing the Government to do more for arts education, in part to increase the number of state school pupils entering creative industries. Most entrants, it seems, are from fee-paying private schools.
On the face of it this seems like pushing at a closed door as PM Rishi Sunak and his allies clearly see Silicon Valley as something the UK should try hard to emulate. So it’s prepared to commit slender education funding to programming and the recruitment of maths and science teachers (hardly successful so far) while neglecting what’s called the arts, which includes the likes of English, history and languages.
Creative Industry Alliance members include D&AD president Jack Renwick, Kate Stanners from Saatchi & Saatchi and adam&eveDDB creative supremo Richard Brim.
The point about the arts, of course, is that they’re supposed to teach you how to think and enable students to question received orthodoxy. Rather need today, one might think, when the world seems dominated by mad scientists like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and the proponents of AI (including the big ad holding companies.). Musk and co., of course, are precisely the people Sunak and his allies look up to.
The Alliance says: “Our creative companies lead the world, and our skills are sought by clients globally – in 2019 we accounted for nearly 12% of total UK service exports,” the letter said.
“Yet every year we find it harder and harder to recruit the diversity of talent we need. We see an ever-increasing proportion of applicants from fee-paying school backgrounds where it is possible to study and gain qualifications in subjects like art and design, and fewer from state school backgrounds where these subjects are increasingly rare.
“This restricts not only the potential talent pool, but also the diversity of our teams. An industry like ours depends on diversity of background, perspective, and ideas.”
It’s calling for four actions:
• Restore arts funding in state schools to 2010 levels
• Establish a taskforce to reverse the decline in arts teacher recruitment
• Review creative education assessment and develop new models of creative education
• Deliver funding for opportunity sharing between state schools and the creative industries.
A petition has also been launched to support the campaign (link above).
Supporters of what used to be called a classical education have hardly been strengthened by that Classics-quoting buffoon Boris Johnson, who’s never shown much evidence of being able to think about much apart from his own self-interest.
But adland anyway is a poorer place these days, decades of recruiting only middle-class graduates have led to a vanilla industry. Creative Industry Alliance should keep banging the drum. Even if it seems as though nobody’s listening.