The Arts Council today published Points of Alignment the Report of the Special Committee on the Arts and Education. The Report was presented to the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen, T.D., and the Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe, T.D.
The Special Committee on the Arts and Education was established by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, in tandem with the Minister for Education and Science and consisted of nominated representatives from the arts and education sectors with special knowledge of the intersections between the two fields.
Speaking after the Report was published, the Chair of the Arts Council, Olive Braiden said: "The Arts Council hopes that the Points of Alignment Report will be just that: an opportunity for politicians, policy-makers, and providers in the fields of arts and education to align on this central issue. Hundreds of thousands of young people for generations to come stand to gain if the strategic changes recommended in the report are made."
The Report focuses on arts-in-education provision in Ireland and makes five key recommendations to improve such provision. Arts-in-education involves artists of all disciplines (theatre, dance, visual arts, literature, music, film etc) visiting schools to present work and to engage in both short and long-term projects in which they collaborate with young people. It also includes visits by schools to galleries, theatres and arts centres for exhibitions, performances and workshops of all sorts designed to enrich the school experience of thousands of young people throughout Ireland.
The report acknowledges that much valuable work is occurring but emphasises how the absence of systemic provision is hindering development and depriving many tens of thousands of school-goers of quality arts experiences in their formative years. The report suggests ways in which both key government departments and the Arts Council could act on a joint basis to increase investment in arts-in-education so as to extend the reach of such work and to deepen its impact. The establishment of a dedicated national arts-in-education development unit and increased resourcing of existing arts-in-education projects and programmes are two of the report’s recommendations.
The Points of Alignment Report is published at a time when recent reports by the NESF and the ESRI confirm that access to the arts is determined in large measure by educational attainment. Two years ago the major survey of public attitudes and behaviour The Public and The Arts found that arts provision for children and young people was the highest priority for public spending in the arts in the view of the overwhelming majority of the population.
The Director of the Arts Council Mary Cloake expressed the hope that the report would provide an agenda for action by the two key government departments concerned with arts-in-education provision, working in close collaboration with the Arts Council. "We know how powerful high-quality arts experiences can be, especially for young people. The Arts Council, many local authorities, and a lot of dedicated artists and arts organisations have built a tradition of work in this field. Currently this work reaches and enriches tens of thousands of young people, but there are hundreds of thousands more who deserve access to such opportunities, and the Arts Council hopes that this new report will be a catalyst for further growth and development."