There's An Arts Emergency
Don't destroy our Foundation Courses. Please.
If you've studied an artistic subject in the UK then chances are you've heard about foundation courses. It's that year between college and degree where you get to play and experiment.
I didn't take an art subject at GCSE level. I also never finished my National Diploma in Art and Design.
I was accepted to do a Foundation Diploma in Art on the strength of my portfolio (I don't know what the tutor was thinking either, honestly). The Foundation Course allowed me to refine my crude portfolio and ideas, it gave me the points I needed to go forth and get my degree in Fine Art. It allowed me to experiment and not worry about 'niche' or 'personal style'. I had the chance to work with paper, printing, painting, sculpture, and everything in between.
I didn't have to fit myself into a pigeon hole, and I was so glad for that.
Nearly everyone I have ever spoken to, who has come through the arts education system in the UK has had nothing but praise for their Foundation year. It was the year they realised they were on the right path. My Foundation year opened up many doors and I made some life-long friends.
Yet, with cuts to education and the arts being made by the Government, Foundation courses are most at risk. Colleges and Universities are cutting them left, right, and centre. The cuts to Education are restricting what students are getting to learn, with humanities and arts being removed in favour of maths, science, and computing.
Why is this concerning?
Because when you embark on a career in design, or fine art, or any other B.A(Hons) creative subject you are taught process, but more importantly you are taught history, you are taught philosophy. Those on creative courses are encouraged to think and think lots. Arts and humanities foster experiments and ideas beyond what we see in the present.
Those is the arts are creating the new.
Last Thursday #cbloggers chat featured the question :-
Q3: What is one thing you would want to change about the way your creative area is perceived?
and how did most people reply? That they were fed up with design and creative work being seen as 'easy' or that 'anyone could do that'. I've said before, I'm an artist, and I can't design well.
The arts are seen as lesser academically challenging than most other subjects, and this is a dangerous mis-truth. Those of us studying and working in the arts are seen as less intelligent, when in reality we've not been taught to remember, we've been taught to create, and which one of those sounds more challenging?
The cuts to education and the arts and the misconceptions about the academic validity of the arts is concerning. Those in the arts create are culture, and without them things could become very concerning.
The arts are demanding subjects to take, at any level, and no, they don't just include looking at pretty pictures and painting pretty scenes. I know many of my readers are practicing creatives, I don't need to go in to too much detail.
I'm concerned about those currently coming in to the education system though. You don't need to be a genius to learn how to analyse a painting or piece of poetry. The arts should never be just for the elite, but these ideas slip in to practice and it's scary.
I read an article a few months a go, it said that many of the arts interns in London were from the middle and upper classes; because those young adults had parents paying for their homes and food, and paying for them to do the internship in the first place.
Since when did we have to pay to work for free?
Foundation courses and arts and culture are important. How many people visit the UK for our culture? Even if they just hang out in the capital (which is becoming less and less representative of the UK as a whole), they are coming to experience our varied arts, music, architecture, history, our culture. A dip in tourism is going to effect our economy.
They have the same ethos that I've always had, that the arts are important and creation is important.
This week I'm not giving you a list of interesting things to read, this week I'm asking if you too can support the arts. I'm asking that you think about all the chances you've had to be artistic and creative and contemplate that you've been privileged to do so, especially at a time when there are more and more barriers occurring for those younger than us.
Arts Emergency haven't paid me, they didn't even ask me. I just think we need more people like that.