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Date: Tuesday 22nd May 2018
Venue: Old Head Post Office, Sheffield Institute of Arts, Fitzalan Square, Top of Flat Street, Sheffield, S1 2AY
Theme: The Future of Art + Design Education
The UK's artists and designers are among the most creative and dynamic in the world. Their industry is a huge asset culturally and generates billions for the economy, turning over more than our automotive, life science, oil and gas, and aerospace sectors combined.
Britain’s creative industries are not only growing at twice the rate of the UK economy; in recent years the creative workforce has grown four times faster than the workforce as a whole and is on track to create one million new jobs between 2013 and 2030. That's around 1,000 new highly skilled jobs a week which are significantly more resilient to automation.
The impact of Art and Design doesn't stop there; it affects individuals every day, influences the way communities and cities work, benefits us nationally and on global scale. It is one of the few areas where the UK has a credible claim to be world–leading, but history shows this position of leadership cannot be taken for granted and there is growing evidence that creative disciplines are under attack.
They face issues with perception, funding and a real threat from Brexit. They have been accused of lacking diversity and being too London-focused. Most fundamentally though, they face a siege from within, as the education system from which their foundations are laid is hammered from all sides.
As EBacc subjects have become compulsory since 2015 and STEM increasingly prioritised from 2002, the Creative Arts and Design have been downgraded to non-core subjects, sending out a message about what is being valued in education: "To count is to be economically productive, but to create is not." ~ Prof. John Last.
The benefits and costs of Art + Design in education are also widely misunderstood. There are still negative perceptions of the value of A+D within our school curriculum, careers, and quality of life by parents/carers, school management and pupils. Declining funding is leading to increasing class sizes, cuts in staffing, courses and enrichment initiatives that are reaching progressively further back through Key Stages 4, 3 and even into 2.
Funding changes at further- and higher- levels are having significant impacts too, as, despite being somewhat different to civil engineering and not as expensive as medicine, courses are more costly than business or English to resource and run. Students need quality tools and studio spaces to learn and explore; mannequins, 3D printers, editing suites and virtual-reality technology to develop and hone their craft; live projects, engaging real-world challenges, industry opportunities and a wealth of experience in cross-discipline collaboration to grow and master skills.
Employers are crying out for young people with 'resilience, enthusiasm and creativity’. Research shows that companies that harness both art and science, STEAM rather than STEM, outperform competitors in terms of sales, employment, productivity and innovation. Britain’s future is described as a knowledge economy and a fall in students taking arts subjects coupled with Brexit could lead to a "talent crisis".
It's time to act, before it's too late.
Britain's great tradition in the creative industries is not because of some innate creativity, but rather because we created a strong arts education system from primary school all the way through to college and university.
Our PK Special is an intervention, the beginning of the conversation, where we ask...
How can we improve advocacy? What can we do to change parent and pupil perceptions of the value of the arts? Can we get creative subjects reintroduced into the curriculum? Is there a role for universities to play in supporting A+D education at different stages in the 'pipeline'? Would trips, out-of-hours clubs and exhibition visits help? Can we get more artists and creatives into schools, talking to and setting challenges for pupils? How do we ensure access to relevant technology and equipment?
Join us as we BACK the future of Art + Design Education.