Sophia White, a student at CAPA College, presents her understanding of an issue affecting the arts. The article forms part of her Gold Arts Award portfolio.
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Have you considered or led a career in the arts? If the answer is 'yes' then I know you were probably asked at least one of these questions at the outset… “Where is this going to take you?”, “How will you make a serious job from it?”. I even got the occasional “Sophia, now give me a serious answer!”
I’m sure many who long for a career in the arts dread the long-awaited careers day for this very reason. Whether it be the creative or performing arts, some people always feel the need to push their agenda, discrediting the merit of the industry.
Luckily I attended a school with a strong performing arts focus backed up alongside a strong creative curriculum. I was allowed to study separate qualifications in dance, drama, music and media. However, friends at nearby schools saw options limited to music OR drama. The once hugely enjoyed dance GCSE course at one friend’s school slashed with little warning.
Analysis of government data shows that the number of GCSE music and drama students has fallen by a fifth over the last decade.
Is it down to a funding issue faced by schools struggling to cope with limited resources or has funding been withdrawn purely because it is not classed as an academic career option which doesn’t guarantee long-term success.
Why do some just assume that higher paid, academic jobs create more successful career outcomes? Is it really just about pay? For some it's a vocation; a life dedicated to their creative craft. It's far more valuable than any huge pension pot allowing an early retirement.
The benefits of allowing young students access to drama, dance or music in schools (without having to pay for after school provision) are huge. Performing builds self-confidence and equips our future workforce with public speaking skills. Developing self-motivation, self-expression and the ability to work as part of a team are criteria surely any employer would love. Where is the stigma in that? Create an early love of performance. Even if you end up following a different path in future, it has still been a valuable lesson, experience that will serve you well. And for those that love it enough to continue, we should be encouraged to follow our dreams.
It may seem like a silly excuse for a job to some. But what people don’t realise is performing arts is everywhere. Let’s face it, you ‘normal people’ couldn’t live without the arts. In fact, I bet you wouldn’t be able to cope a week without turning on your TV, listening to your radio or streaming from your favourite platform.
The arts and culture industry contributes almost £11 billion to the UK, it is a vital cog in ensuring the continued growth of our economy. The devastation during the pandemic when people couldn’t watch their favourite TV soap because the production had been shut down, the upset when concerts were cancelled and theatres and cinemas mothballed. On the most basic level people spend their hard earned cash to watch performing artists in action.
Creatives spend years honing their craft. The workload even for me starting out on my journey is heavy. Long practical days, alongside written assignments with tight deadlines. Not much time for socialising because of extra classes every evening to improve myself.
So the next time you think about discrediting someone’s Broadway dream, think again!