Arts lobby says cuts are bad for business

Diane Spencer

"The arts make money for Britain" is the message for the Government in the third edition of Facts About The Arts from the National Campaign for the Arts.

Among a plethora of statistics about all the disciplines, the report sounds a warning note about education. Nearly half the teachers in junior schools were unprepared to teach music, only a quarter of schools required pupils to take at least one arts subject at key stage 4 and almost 50 per cent of advisory posts in arts subjects had vanished since 1988.

The figures are worse for instrument teaching. Not only the musical health of the nation is at stake, says the report, but also the economy: the music industry contributed more than Pounds 750 million to the balance of payments in 1993 when the last data was collected.

Three years ago a quarter to a third of instrumental music in schools was paid for by parents raising concerns from the campaign about access to tuition for talented children unable to pay.

Theatre-in-education groups have largely disappeared since the advent of local management of schools. Discretionary grants for drama and dance students have been seriously undermined because education authorities have been hit hard by budget cuts. In 1987, full fees were provided by 83 per cent of LEAs; by 1992 this had dropped to 44 per cent. Around 40 per cent of students have been unable to take up places. The report draws "a conclusion familiar in the education world: what you get depends on where you live . . . The long-term result is likely to be a dearth of well-trained young people to keep feeding the demands of the stage, film and television, which will always need talented people if they are to go on operating - and earning money."

Facts about the Arts is available at Pounds 7.50 from the NCA, Francis House, Francis Street, London SW1P 1DE.

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