For nearly a decade, the creative industries have been the fastest growing sector in the UK economy. Generating over £84 billion per year – that’s almost £10 million per hour – creativity plays a vital part in modern British society. Yet according to UCAS, 17,000 less students applied for creative courses in 2017 compared with 2016.
With the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and its focus on core academic subjects, cuts to education funding and the risk of creative subjects such as theatre, drama and art being removed from our secondary school curriculum, it’s time to fight for education in schools.
We believe in the power of art, and know the freedom and joy that it brings. We took to the nation to find out just how creative Britain is, asking 2,000 people about their attitudes towards art, creativity and education.
The survey revealed that 61% of Britons believe that art should be taught as a compulsory subject in schools until the age of 16.
“It is the first time the public have voted independently from experts and lobbyists about art in schools,” says Mark Cass, CEO & Founder of Cass Art. “They are absolutely right to call for art to be made compulsory in schools because it means we can start taking our ‘creative health’ seriously. From stress busting to self-expression and motor skills, the benefits of promoting creativity early on are invaluable.”
At Cass Art, we support a breadth of creative projects, programmes, bursaries and events to support creative young people; from their first experience in nursery right up to their university degree. Cass Art sponsors the annual Fourth Plinth Schools Award organised by the Mayor of London, set up with the aim of inspiring creativity in young people.
Each year London school children, aged 5-15, are invited to submit designs for the iconic Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. This year over 3,500 entries were received, demonstrating the appetite for creativity across the capitals schools.
Cass Art support the Sorrell Foundation, set up in 1999 with the aim of inspiring creativity in young people, which it achieves through a number of initiatives including The National Art & Design Saturday Club. The Saturday Club gives 13-16 year olds the opportunity to study Art & Design for free every Saturday at their local university or college with tuition from professional designers, artists and architects.
“I’m heartened by the results of this study which highlight the importance of creativity in our lives,” comments Sir John Sorrell, former chair of the Creative Industries Federation and Founder of the Sorrell Foundation. “My school art teacher encouraged me at the age of 14 to pursue my interest in art and design.”
“Educators play a vital role in inspiring young people, opening their minds, encouraging them to question and explore. The UK is renowned worldwide for the success of its creative industries but it's crucial for schools to keep producing young people who enter these professions.”
FIGHTING FOR CREATIVITY IN SCHOOLS
Free Thinking 2016 brought together creative students and young people from across the country for a breadth of workshops, panel discussions and talks alongside an exhibition at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, East London, showcasing the very best student talent from across the UK.
Artist Bob and Roberta Smith and Sir John Sorrell joined the art education debate, providing an insight into their experiences and their continued fight for art education. Here’s what they had to say…
SIR JOHN SORRELL
“I grew up in a council estate in North London, and everybody left school at 15 and got a job – because that’s what you did. I never heard the word university mentioned when I was a kid. I had never stepped inside an art gallery,” recalls Sir Jon Sorrell as he discusses his experience applying for art school as a young boy.
Watch the full video of Sir John Sorrell reliving the challenges as a young person starting his creative career.
BOB AND ROBERTA SMITH
“There’s an onus on the individual to keep democracy alive, that’s why the arts are so important in our schools. Art is a serious business,” says artist Bob and Roberta. “We are going to throw away, if we’re not careful, something that is very unique in the world.”