Jowell vows to put sons and daughters on the stage

1st April 2005 at 01:00
All pupils will have performed in front of an audience by the time they leave school, under new government plans to increase access to arts and culture.

This week, Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, also pledged within the next 10 years all would have had hands-on cultural experiences by the time they left school. These include performing music live to an audience, creating their own artwork, or taking part in a theatrical production, either in an on or off-stage role.

Pupils will also be expected to have written and read aloud their own piece of creative writing and commented on the creations of others. And they will be given opportunities to visit art galleries, museums and archives. Ms Jowell said: "Creativity will be at the heart of this nation's success in the future. The Government is determined to ensure that our young people get the best possible preparation. "Where they live, or their social circumstances, must not be allowed to hold them back. We want that spark of creativity that lives in every child to be nurtured."

These plans will be implemented through the Creative Sparks scheme, launched earlier this month, as part of the Government's five-year plan to develop the nation's access to culture. This will include an increased focus on building partnerships between schools and creative professionals, and highlighting opportunities for young people to develop their performance skills.

Matt Warren, head of music at Nower Hill comprehensive, in north London, said: "Getting people to perform is a good thing. But you have to think about the practicalities. Does someone go on stage if they're going to perform poorly? You want people to perform, but not if the audience is going to laugh at them. You have to get a balance." The Government has also given no indication how the new initiative will be funded. Arts Council England recently cut financing for the Creative Partnerships programme, which helps schools to create links with arts professionals, by pound;13 million, after its own funding was frozen by the Government.

A spokeswoman said: "We welcome the renewed commitment the Government has expressed in promoting cultural entitlement, and we are committed to working as well as we can under the new budgeting arrangements."

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