The comprehensive spending review may not take place till October, but already a number of schemes and programmes designed to engage children and young people in the arts have been scrapped or curtailed, sent to the back of the priority list.Which, let’s face it, is where they should have been in the first place…
For all their flaws and imperfections such schemes are not only well-intentioned, they also offer real opportunity and access. So what does their demise mean for young people?That they’ll have to get a real job? Something of more use to society than dressing up or daubing paint on canvas?
The A Night Less Ordinary scheme, Arts Council England's (ACE) free theatre ticket scheme for under-26-year-olds, may have a few detractors (Margaret Hodge admitted that its rollout was "rushed") but it has nonetheless provided young people with access to art.No, it hasn’t. They always had ‘access to art’.
What it’s provided young people with is access to art paid for by someone else.
…Find Your Talent, the government's pilot cultural offering for children and young people run by Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), helped young people gain practical work-experience in the creative industries and develop artistic skills (such as playing a musical instrument or performing on stage).Well, I’m sure that’s fantastic, but really, a legion of ‘X-Factor’ wannabes isn’t going to get the deficit sorted, is it?
And I grew up with the punk era, and they seemed to do all right without government grants. Why can the current generation not do the same?
Paul Collard, chief executive of CCE, says "the real implications of the discontinuation of schemes like Find Your Talent will not become clear until the comprehensive spending review in autumn. The government may decide to substitute these programmes with their own initiatives, or it may end up being a whole failed retrenchment that the government has engaged in."And you may need to find another job, Paul. Hopefully, yours is one of those quangos slated for the bonfire.
The abolition of the fund, which provided paid work experience for young people who were struggling to find employment, means that youngsters keen on getting into the creative industries but devoid of connections or funds to work for free will now find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to get their foot in the door – unless the government finds a suitable replacement to the scheme.It better not…
Now is the time to develop not just an offensive (anti-cuts) strategy, but also a defensive one. What are the lessons learned from the previous schemes? How can we better target the right audience? In this age of austerity, creativity and imagination are also key: are there new and better models of funding programmes for the young?I wish you well, Trisha, I really do. If you can find corporate sponsorship for these, then more power to you.
But don’t go sticking your hand in my pocket, eh?