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Arts Council: Relevance not excellence will be new litmus test

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7 hours ago, Jam Dancer said:

The myth that people from certain groups are only interested in certain art forms seems to have become common place.ūüėě It‚Äôs not what I see¬†on the ground when people are exposed to and get the opportunity to participate in different activities beyond what they‚Äôre ‚Äúsupposed to do.‚ÄĚ

 

 

But isn't this myth largely perpetuated within those groups?  "I know I won't like classical music/classical ballet/opera because that sort of thing is only for wealthy upper class tw**s."  I find it so depressing when I hear this.  I am out of touch with primary school education, so I have no idea what they teach in schools now.  I went to the local village primary school, and I remember we had music sessions once a week, where a piece of classical music was played, and then there was a discussion about it.  I can remember my whole class being taken to the Royal Albert Hall for children's concerts on Saturday mornings.  Obviously some children didn't like it, or were bored, but by and large most of us greeted these lessons with enthusiasm, helped by a brilliant teacher.  

 

When I worked in a primary school the deputy head was mad keen on ballet, and ENB visited and gave talks prior to an organised trip to Sadlers Wells to see a school performance by the company.  This school was not a fee paying one; it was the local primary school in a very deprived area of London.  The kids loved it, and gave the performers a standing ovation. 

 

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Thanks Ian

Nutcracker’s relevance?  I’d have thought heralding Christmas was relevant for many people, even Ebenezer Scrooge eventually.  Or will pernicious kill joys warn of the irrelevance of suggesting dreams can come true?

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I do hope that they won't use "relevance" to mean "has to directly reflect 21st century life". On that basis we'd get a very short main house 2018/19 RB season consisting of double bill of Infra & Flight Path!

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6 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

I do hope that they won't use "relevance" to mean "has to directly reflect 21st century life". On that basis we'd get a very short main house 2018/19 RB season consisting of double bill of Infra & Flight Path!

 

Oh, I think R&J would survive ... Knife crime anyone??? 

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But presumably Sleeping Beauty would be out the window - all that royalty, privilege and fairytale characters ...

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14 hours ago, Fonty said:

I went to the local village primary school, and I remember we had music sessions once a week, where a piece of classical music was played, and then there was a discussion about it.  I can remember my whole class being taken to the Royal Albert Hall for children's concerts on Saturday mornings.  Obviously some children didn't like it, or were bored, but by and large most of us greeted these lessons with enthusiasm, helped by a brilliant teacher.  

 

I had a similar primary school education, Fonty, with an inspirational teacher dedicated to the importance of exposure to the 'high end' arts. From the age of 8 we acted out scenes from Shakespeare and sang operatic arias and choruses. They were introduced and taught from a background of knowledge, understanding and love. My own love of literature and the arts came from those early years. How many children today have those advantages? How many teachers are able to provide them or, indeed, find them 'relevant'? 

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5 hours ago, Scheherezade said:

How many children today have those advantages? How many teachers are able to provide them or, indeed, find them 'relevant'? 

 

I think the question often remains:  How many teachers themselves had such exposure in their formative lives, never mind the added drive to push it on?  Also it is much more difficult to accomplish such activities (given all the permissions needed in the rightful protection of children) today than it certainly was in my youth - regardless of all the many IRA bombing threats (and not infrequent realisations) extant in London at that time.  There is no question but that it is a different age.  As ever, time moves on - whether we like it or not.  

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall

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21 hours ago, Fonty said:

 

 I am out of touch with primary school education, so I have no idea what they teach in schools now.
 

 

At the sixth form college where I work, the dance students study Christopher Bruce (specifically Ghost Dances), Alvin Ailey, Sidi Larbi, Jasmin Vardimon, "Still Life At The Penguin Cafe" and Akram Khan (mostly his Kathak) - quite a range of styles.

 

The bit in the article that worries me most is "Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality will see significant growth, and will become increasingly relevant within the arts." Does the audience really need to interact with a performance using their phones? Phones in a theatre are already a scourge and I can see this only getting worse.

 

There was a virtual reality performance at the Birmingham International Dance Festival last year. In it, you had a head set and you were in the middle of some animated movement. I found it very underwhelming. If you turned to see behind you, quickly you became dizzy, owing to the lack of something real to focus on. I also found the animations quite poor. Of course, this will improve. I know that Imperial College use virtual reality very successfully in their medicine course. Students can view a procedure from several different angles, which helps with their studies. They do this  mostly once the procedure has been completed, watching it as a recording, although they do live stream the procedure to their students.

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23 minutes ago, trog said:

 

At the sixth form college where I work, the dance students study Christopher Bruce (specifically Ghost Dances), Alvin Ailey, Sidi Larbi, Jasmin Vardimon, "Still Life At The Penguin Cafe" and Akram Khan (mostly his Kathak) - quite a range of styles.

 

The bit in the article that worries me most is "Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality will see significant growth, and will become increasingly relevant within the arts." Does the audience really need to interact with a performance using their phones? Phones in a theatre are already a scourge and I can see this only getting worse.

 

There was a virtual reality performance at the Birmingham International Dance Festival last year. In it, you had a head set and you were in the middle of some animated movement. I found it very underwhelming. If you turned to see behind you, quickly you became dizzy, owing to the lack of something real to focus on. I also found the animations quite poor. Of course, this will improve. I know that Imperial College use virtual reality very successfully in their medicine course. Students can view a procedure from several different angles, which helps with their studies. They do this  mostly once the procedure has been completed, watching it as a recording, although they do live stream the procedure to their students.

 

I find the whole 'virtual reality' (and computer games) concept very underwhelming. It seems to me to be designed for maximum 'experience', and for a sense of (virtual) physical participation, rather than for the appreciation of a creation by someone else in which our role is to be an open-minded and open-hearted recipient. There's a lack of humility about all this. I don't want to, and am not capable to, participate in (e.g.) Swan Lake; that's fine. What I do want is to see and experience a magnificent production of Swan Lake as an audience member. It's not all about me; it's about what's being created.

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That's true: there is far too much of an attitude of "it's all about me" being fostered in our society these days - it's hardly encouraging people to sit back and watch or listen to others "passively", which I suppose is what's needed mostly in the arts. 

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Hopefully I will have moved on to what ever awaits us next before I personally speaking have to attend an interactive performance of Swan Lake! 

 

Theres nothing wrong with such things per se and going in for a virtual reality experience .....but some things need absorbing from a sort of "active passive state". I don't need to do anything but listen attentively ....to say enjoy the late Beethoven sonatas. 

I have no idea whether these sonatas are "relevant"  today or not. They are certainly not relevant to anyone who has never heard them!

 

It is such a big question in one sense about what Art is and who is an Artist.

But on another level it may be the 21 st Century but Man has still only evolved so far and rather slowly. 

Going right back in time I suppose Art has always been away of ....telling stories about individual or group lives ....expressing emotions both sad and joyful ....depicting things which have moved/ interested one in either sound movement or painting words etc. 

I don't think we've moved very far from this in the 21st Century however clever the technology.

Art will naturally be very diverse I think because of the huge range of people ...age differences etc etc and what will move/ interest  them or not. I don't think things should be narrowed down too much or you exclude too many people.....but of course there is not an ever abundant supply of money so the Arts Council has ...and always has had an incredibly difficult job on deciding what to fund. 

 

Re the school's issue I don't think it's that teachers cannot provide children with Arts experiences or even expertise ....it's that in the last 20 years now the Arts have been put at the back of the queue for money and relevance in the Curriculum. There has been little time for it and teachers have so much record keeping to do they haven't had the time to be providing certain extra curricular activities which were once the norm. Only now are Education Authorities realising this was mistaken and are trying to make the Arts more of a priority again ....though this change in philosophy may not come to much fruition because of all the dire cuts in Education generally. Admittedly there was pressure on schools to address the technological revolution and so had to give some priority to children being familiar with computers etc .... which wonderfully they are!! ....It is not surprising that younger generations enjoy the involvement of technology in the Arts!! 

When I worked for ILEA children were SO lucky with.... free music tuition ...primary school orchestras .....lovely Art displays everywhere ( not the horribly prescriptive work that has been on display in many schools in recent years) 

But times change. But things seem to go around in Spirals so I'm very hopeful inspite of my first sentence!!

 

On a lighter note....I feel the same about certain venues now I am older.....Glastonbury would definitely be off the cards for me these days though would love to go again on another level...just not practical. I think I feel the same about the Wembley venue and still haven't tried the O2 though have been to recce it! ...I can't take big crowds these days whatever the cause. I'm not even that keen on the Albert Hall any more!! 

And Nina Margaret a football match at somewhere like Anfield Ground ( Liverpool team) IS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE...thoroughly enjoyable for all sorts of reasons........however for reasons above I wouldn't do this anymore now but glad I did do it!! 

 

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2 hours ago, LinMM said:

Re the school's issue I don't think it's that teachers cannot provide children with Arts experiences or even expertise ....it's that in the last 20 years now the Arts have been put at the back of the queue for money and relevance in the Curriculum. There has been little time for it and teachers have so much record keeping to do they haven't had the time to be providing certain extra curricular activities which were once the norm. Only now are Education Authorities realising this was mistaken and are trying to make the Arts more of a priority again ....though this change in philosophy may not come to much fruition because of all the dire cuts in Education generally. Admittedly there was pressure on schools to address the technological revolution and so had to give some priority to children being familiar with computers etc .... which wonderfully they are!! ....It is not surprising that younger generations enjoy the involvement of technology in the Arts!! 

When I worked for ILEA children were SO lucky with.... free music tuition ...primary school orchestras .....lovely Art displays everywhere ( not the horribly prescriptive work that has been on display in many schools in recent years) 

 

 

I do feel very sorry for anyone who is a teacher now.  As someone who came to computers relatively late in life, but went into it as a professional career, I have to say that I am opposed to children being taught too much technology at a young age.  Particularly when it means the Arts are being left out.  Children will find a way to learn technology in order to do the things their peers do. It is a part of daily life for them, it's no big deal.  A friend of mine who was a primary school teacher said she was often teaching a class on IT where she felt her pupils knew more about it than she did.  But they are very unlikely to discover classical music, dance, drama or anything like that unless their parents are interested.  And that is very, very sad.   

 

As a matter of interest, what is "prescriptive work"? 

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On 14/04/2019 at 19:44, Fonty said:

But isn't this myth largely perpetuated within those groups?¬† "I knowÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅ I won't like classical music/classical ballet/opera becÔĽŅause that sort of thing is only for wealthy upper ÔĽŅclaÔĽŅsÔĽŅs twÔĽŅ*ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅ*s."¬† I find it so depressing when I hear this.¬†

No i don’t think that’s the case. There is usually a vocal minority that tends to hog airtime which leads to people believing that they’ve heard from an entire group when only a few who’ve appointed themselves spokespeople have made their feelings known.

 

Whilst the naysayers do exist, there are far¬†more people who don‚Äôt make those¬†kinds of statements and who simply¬†have not had the exposure, others who are curious or others¬†who think it‚Äôs perhaps beyond them and quite a large number of people who are just indifferent. This brings up the dreaded ‚Äúr‚ÄĚ‚Äôword, relevance.

 

These people aren’t necessarily committed fans of the current popular/hip art forms but they don’t think classical music /ballet/opera is relevant to them or to today.  

 

I don’t know what  the answer in today’s environment of shortened attention spans and what seems to be a lack of  appreciation for history.  What I do know however, from those I know who do dance outreach work is that there is  interest in ballet across groups.

 

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2 minutes ago, Jam Dancer said:

What I do know however, from those I know who do dance outreach work is that there is  interest in ballet across groups.

 

Jam Dancer,  I wonder if you know if that is mainly an interest in more modern ballet forms, or does it also extend to the classical/neoclassical etc ?  

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23 hours ago, Richard LH said:

 

Jam Dancer,  I wonder if you know if that is mainly an interest in more modern ballet forms, or does it also extend to the classical/neoclassical etc ?  

Given the mixed sources it’s not terribly sophisticated data I’m afraid but yes much of the interest to which I am referring is in classical/neoclassical ballet.

I’ve no idea though if there’s increased interest compared to some other period...

Edited by Jam Dancer
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In answer to Fonty Prescriptive teaching is where the curriculum is almost solely structured in units to be rigidly followed .Its very centralised teaching.

So all year two do exactly the same art work on exactly the same themes and the same for years 3-4-5-6 etc

So when you go into any school you know exactly what Art work will be displayed on the walls. 

It is the same for say Maths .....so many days spent on certain units and then you move on whether the children have got it or not! 

Okay its revisited every so often but there doesn't seem to be that much room for any inspiration from a teacher or child alike to deviate from the prescribed curriculum thus curtailing creativity in my view and doesn't leave much room for a teacher to develop any true class dynamics ....judging for yourself when it's time to move on or change subject.

This feeds into the League table mentality and also why in my view some children are switching off.... but better not continue here now about that as may get too political!! And anyway I'm now retired so not as in touch with everything as I was a couple of years ago.

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Sounds dull as ditch water!  I am so glad I am neither a pupil nor a teacher now.  

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I am not trying to denigrate teachers ...far from it ....every teacher has to go with what the current philosophy or practices are....at least initially.

The Plowden Report was the big thing in my early days.

I never planned to be a teacher originally .......Ballet dancer was first choice ....then amazingly talented UN interpreter ....then foreign correspondent ....and then well teacher!  

But in the end was drawn into Education by what looked like an exciting curriculum at least at Primary level .....it looked such a creative environment. ....and it was!

There is seemingly no perfect educational system ....there are always flaws...but certainly would not have been attracted to teach in the environment of the last fifteen years in particular. 

I do think that in the 60's 70's and early 80's children had at least a better education in the Arts ( other things suffered and needed putting right of course) Even children in the poorest schools had access to classical music and the chance to master a musical instrument for example. There was still striving for excellence though but children learned in a more natural way back then. It was Education for Life 

This has gone now but I'm sure will return. 

If children do not have the opportunity to access great works of Art ...in whatever sphere ...how will  they know whether it's relevant to them in their lives ....and ongoing as adults. 

 

 

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It's interesting to read everyone's recollections of being exposed to the arts at primary school, but I think I should offer that when I was at primary school in the first half of the eighties, the closest we came to that was bland songs in school assembly, being sat in front of videotaped episodes of Music Time (which I - a supposedly musical child - hated) and "drama", which as far as I can remember was doing a bit of moving around in vest and pants to taped instructions. There were piano lessons (not very long ones) available at least, but they were very far from being pressed on us.

 

I guess all I'm trying to say is that even then you couldn't rely on schools to evangelise for the arts - it was luck of the draw.

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Yes there is some luck of the draw and even then the generosity of your LEA. 

But there was scope at least for teachers to be creative. 

I was lucky to encounter Anna Scher so invited her in ....went to her workshops and ...I think ...my classes be fitted from some good drama lessons...no taped stuff from them.

Also in those days you could swap classes so teachers not so confident in Drama could take your class for RE or science and you could take theirs for Drama etc. 

In the late 70's a school I taught at in North London ....very close to the current Arsenal Stadium ....had a proper orchestra at Primary level probably largely due to the teachers there at that time but it was encouraged and children could have violin piano and guitar lessons ....free!! 

This wasn't always appreciated by the parents though ....a parent of a little boy in my class said to me "Does he have to carry on with that violin it makes such a terrible noise!" 

Sorry going a bit off thread here ....but it does hark back to the relevance idea. It is a tad impossible to really assess what is a relevant experience in the Arts for another .....but there must be a wide experience in the first place for young people ....and relevance changes over time anyway.

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I think the general theme appearing in the various recollections from early days is that it is important for children to be exposed to the arts in general, and at as early an age as possible. The current lack of arts education in schools is worrying, even more so given that so many dance/theatre companies and orchestras have excellent educational programmes available. A friend, living in Cheshire, was horrified that her grandson, by the time he went to university, had never read, studied or seen a Shakespeare play. Until the arts are considered to be a necessary part of education we will have scores of children who have no interest in them. Of course, even if there were better facilities in schools not all children would be interested but it would help.

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6 minutes ago, ninamargaret said:

A friend, living in Cheshire, was horrified that her grandson, by the time he went to university, had never read, studied or seenÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅ a Shakespeare play. ÔĽŅ

 

I'm quite surprised about this - I thought Shakespeare was compulsory for GCSE English Literature?

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13 hours ago, LinMM said:

I am not trying to denigrate teachers ...far from it ....every teacher has to go with what the current philosophy or practices are....at least initially.

 

 

I feel very, very sorry for teachers these days.  I admire them for doing a job that is tough, and doing it while having to adhere to so much government regulation. 

 

Unfortunately, given the current obsession with league tables, schools are judged on such rigid criteria.  The arts don't lend themselves to being assessed in the same way as reading, writing and 'rithmatic. 

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