It’s time for policy-makers to increase access for young people to performing arts and move away from career-orientated learning dominating education in the UK.
Mandala Theatre Company Artistic Director Yasmin Sidhwa is joining the calls for change in the wake of the newly published Durham Commission report into creativity and education .
Launched in Westminster last week, the report want arts to be woven into the learning process and also condemns a growing inequality of provision resulting in virtual exclusion of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Performing arts help young people to learn essential life skills such as teamwork, thinking creatively on your feet, empathy and most importantly that it’s OK to fail at something. How else can a student learn how to see things from a different perspective whilst working in a safe environment?”, commented Yasmin after reading the report.
The report wants a new national network set up promoting creative teaching with a focus on teacher training. It is also demanding inclusion of the arts up to key stage three (year 9).
Oxford-based Mandala Theatre Company continually works with young people, holding workshops and producing work relevant to their learning experience.
It is currently fine-tuning a new production exploring the pipeline between education, exclusion and prison. Research has revealed that 42% of those in British prisons were excluded from school as children.
Sidhwa worked at Greenwich Young Peoples Theatre in the 1980s where newly-crowned Booker Prize winning author Bernadine Evaristo first discovered her creativity by attending weekly drama workshops. “I would never have won the Booker Prize, alongside Margaret Atwood, if the youth theatre had not nurtured what would become and lifelong career in the arts”, commented Evaristo after winning the coveted literary prize last week for her novel ‘Girl, Woman, Other.