Positioning the Arts at the Heart of Society
by Samuel Jones
The framework public value of the arts and culture - cultural value - is a way of articulating the benefit that our museums, theatres, concert halls, artists and a wide range of other organisations and individuals.
This recognition is international. The outgoing CEO of the Australia Council, Jennifer Bott, spoke recently of 'positioning the arts at the heart of society'. She quotes Jacques Chirac's recognition that the arts and culture can 'promote the importance of breaking down barriers, of openness and mutual understanding against the clash of identities and the mentality of closure and segregation'. As the world changes around us, the arts and culture have a hugley important role to play.
In answer to Charlie's question, I'd say that the relationship is in part similar to that enabled by Creative Partnerships and other schemes by which our young people can benefit by working with artists. Such arrangements aren't just about inspiration - they are about encouraging new, creative ways of thinking and tackling chalenges. They are about offering the opportunity to express oneself and make an impact in the world. Earlier this year, the Minister for Culture, David Lammy, spoke of 'cultural democracy': the cultural literacy and confidence that such schemes bring will be essential to this. It's an idea we're working on here.
Today, Education Secretary Alan Johnson is expected to speak of extending the school week to Saturday mornings. This time, he suggests, could be used for the arts. I can't comment on the policy of extending school hours to the weekend. However, on the idea of bolstering the arts and culture within schools I think is essential. Maybe not in the potential ghetto of a Saturday morning, but essential.