§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall rose to call attention to the case for promoting access to, and education and training in, the arts; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I am delighted to be able to introduce this short debate on the subject of education and the arts. I do not think that however eloquently I or any of my colleagues address this House, it is likely to be as entertaining as the spontaneous theatre we had earlier, which has unfortunately delayed a little the start of this debate. I know that arts are a Cinderella topic in many situations, but I was not expecting that we would still be here to turn into pumpkins.
§ However, I shall not delay matters any further but say straightaway that I am very grateful to those Members of the House on all sides who have put their names forward to speak in this debate. I look forward very much to their contributions.
§ When I contemplated speaking for 15 minutes, it stretched in front of me as a yawning expanse of time that I was not sure I would be able to fill. Of course, I have discovered there are many, many things that I shall not be able to say in the time allotted to me and I apologise in advance to all those people who have asked me to mention various topics which I shall not be able to mention; I very much hope that they will be picked up by others in your Lordships' House as the evening goes on.
§ I have spoken before in this House on the contribution that participation in arts activities can make to the general education and development of young people. Today I should like to return to the subject but also to include the education of young artists themselves, the development of new audiences, in the broadest sense, for their work, and also the ways in which their skills can be used beyond the immediately obvious areas.
§ I must start by declaring several interests. I am the executive director of the National Theatre, I am a trustee of NESTA—the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts—which is of course chaired by my noble friend Lord Puttnam, who is to speak later in this debate. I also serve on, or have recently left, the boards of other arts organisations, including Sheffield Theatres, the Roundhouse Trust, the Young Vic and the English Stage Company. Finally, I have to confess to having two children in training to be performers—one actor and one singer. Conventional wisdom suggests that this is a testimony to my complete failure to make any useful impact on their choice of career but I hope that, by the end of this debate, we shall have revealed that such a gloomy view is no longer appropriate.
§ Education and training in the arts are contributing significantly to the health and wealth of our community, which is why we ought to ensure that they are adequately resourced and occupy a proper place in our thinking about the future.1621
§ The arts are among a diminishing number of activities in which this country continues unarguably to excel. Our relatively small population consistently produces a disproportionate number of world class actors, writers, designers, musicians, dancers and visual artists together with directors and producers whose skills are universally admired. This is important for two main reasons; first, because the work these people create brings us credit. It is one of our great diplomatic assets. The Oscars will be announced in Hollywood in a couple of weeks' time. British artists will once again be in contention for many of the most prestigious awards. The Metropolitan Opera in New York has just presented "Tristan and Isolde" with a new leading couple hailed as the best for a generation. The "Isolde" was the English soprano Jane Eaglen, trained at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Three theatre productions which originated at the National Theatre, if I may be forgiven this slightly immodest example, will all open in the same week next month on Broadway.
§ The arts also attract people to the UK both to enjoy the end product—two-thirds of visitors to London canvassed in 1997 by MORI cited the theatre as their main reason for coming—and, less visibly but very importantly, to take advantage of the training offered by our colleges and conservatoires. The excellence of our training institutions produces artists who are admired and envied everywhere for their innovation and for their ability to work flexibly and creatively within a framework of disciplined application.
§ There is another reason, perhaps not yet so well documented, but increasingly important, why we should take our artists seriously. Evidence is growing that skills developed through contact with the arts have value well beyond the arts themselves. This is most obvious in the education system, where demand for the services of arts organisations both to support curriculum-based teaching and to support general learning skills now exceeds supply. It is also apparent that business is looking increasingly towards the arts for management training programmes. The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe Theatre, among others, now run very successful programmes of this kind. Businesses are also looking for new skills in the young people they employ—skills in communication and presentation: in short, self confidence—which can be greatly enhanced through involvement in the arts.
§ Demand is also growing for arts practitioners to support the training of teachers. I note that there is a huge demand for the in-service training programmes which my organisation, the Royal National Theatre, provides. That demand cannot be met by the resources we have. Artists are also to be found in rehabilitation programmes in prisons and in the provision of care for the elderly. Only last week I heard an item on Radio 4 about a dance worker in an old people's home in Bristol. The relationship that had been forged between the artist and the people whom he was teaching to Tango was clearly delightful and very productive.
§ Why is there this demand? Perhaps it is becoming ever more apparent that people, young and old, grow through contact with the arts. They work better 1622 together, they enjoy their lives more, they are more productive. Whether this is in the school, the workplace or the prison, it is contributing to the "lifelong learning" project to which the Government are rightly committed. I refer your Lordships to a report which I have mentioned before in the House and which I imagine will be mentioned by other noble Lords today. I refer to the report of the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education entitled All Our Futures and published last year. There is a great deal of evidence in the report as to the beneficial effect that contact with the arts has on people in education.
Some of your Lordships may have read an article in the Guardian last weekend about Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House—those great bastions of exclusivity and privilege. Through their education departments, both companies have recently set up major projects in which they have matched the professional skills of their organisations with the enthusiasm and creativity of young people. The Glyndebourne production—a new opera written for a cast of teenagers by composer John Lunn with a libretto by Stephen Plaice—was presented at Glyndebourne a couple of weeks ago, to great acclaim, particularly for the young performers. "Separation: The Story of Bullman and the Moonsisters"—I did not see it; I wish I had—was the result of a six-month collaboration between the Royal Opera House and St Clement Danes primary school, and was shown in the new Linbury Studio at the Opera House last December. As the Guardian reported of this work:
Every element of the production, from performing and fundraising, to scenery building, was undertaken by the 101 children in the company. Professionals from the Opera House were on hand to help, but the children were encouraged to work as independently as possible. A walk around the school would have convinced anyone that they were taking the work seriously; the two 10-year-old press officers, Jesus and Ryan, were so professional it seemed they had been doing the job for years".
Glyndebourne's opera "Zoe" involved nearly 50 Brighton teenagers—a notoriously difficult age group to engage, as we all know—both from state schools within the east Brighton education action zone and from the private sector. Katie Tearle, Glyndebourne's admirable head of education, noted the range of benefits that projects such as "Zoe" can bring, saying:
People can get their hands dirty. They can join in the creative process, meet composers, experience the whole professional way in which Glyndebourne puts on an opera".
She went on to say:
These are all valuable educational experiences".
§ I should say at this point that a significant benefit of such experience is that it builds audiences for the future. If we do not pay attention to that aspect of arts education, then the theatres, concert halls, art galleries and opera houses in which we have recently invested so much will stand empty in the future. That would be very undesirable.
§ It does not require a huge leap of faith to believe that young people who have been asked to write music, to perform it, to build scenery or, most challengingly, to deal with the press, will find in those experiences confidence and pride that will influence their approach 1623 to other aspects of their fives. It is no surprise to learn that self esteem, communication skills, team building abilities—qualities for which, as I have already said, employers are increasingly looking in their staff—improve through this kind of experience. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they do. There is also evidence that arts education has an impact on learning in general, improving concentration and application in all subjects. More study is needed in this area, and researchers at the University of Durham are currently working with the National Theatre on a three-year scientific study tracking students through years three, four and five to evaluate this impact. I am also indebted to my noble friend Lord Puttnam for drawing my attention to research from the University of York which shows that the 19 specialist arts colleges, 14 of which are in relatively disadvantaged inner city areas, have shown a 10 per cent improvement over the past three years in their GCSE A to C pass rates.
§ But projects of the kind I have just described depend for their success upon there being professional artists willing and able to lead them. It is the expertise of these professionals that unlocks the creativity of the young people with whom they work. There are dozens of initiatives all over the UK similar to the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne examples. I have mentioned some of them in your Lordships' House before. The artists who contribute to them are usually highly trained, highly skilled and very committed. They are also frequently overlooked and almost always underpaid. I would urge the Government to recognise the importance of professional artists in carrying forward some of their excellent thinking about lifelong learning and the importance of creativity in all aspects of our lives, and to look for ways of supporting them in developing their skills.
§ In this regard, I would respectfully draw the attention of my noble friend the Minister to an initiative currently underway in Holland called PodiumKunst Werk, which roughly translates as "Stage Art Employment". This independent foundation is working with the Dutch Public Employment Service to focus exclusively on the job market for the performing arts and adjoining fields in which performing artists are professionally engaged. It is the latter part of that mission which I believe we have not as yet adequately addressed in this country.
I spoke earlier about the interest business is now showing in techniques that can be learnt from the arts. The National Theatre's own programme, Theatreworks, is in regular demand from companies requiring arts-based training for a number of reasons, including the personal development of key individuals and, most frequently, the facilitation of change. Issues about the "culture" of organisations, about styles of leadership, and about adaptation to new markets, new technologies and new ways of dealing with customers, can often be addressed very successfully through training which draws on ways of working used every day in, for instance, the process of rehearsing a play. This may sound implausible, but several of our most influential management thinkers, such as Charles
Handy and Benjamin Zander, now frequently look to the arts for models to exemplify the kind of practice that will be increasingly necessary in the fast-moving business world of the future where creativity is at a premium. In his book The Hungry Spirit Charles Handy says:
The circus is one example of what business can learn from other organizations who have long experience of harnessing individual talent to common purposes. Professionalism. Projects, Passion and Pride seem to be the hallmarks of the organizations of talent. The theatre is another example, one where individuals become team members for a production with a shared interest in its success … Orchestras and jazz hands have also been cited as models for the new way of working".
§ Here again, the skills of the professional artist are much needed, and in growing demand.
§ As yet we do not know exactly how many people who originally trained as actors, musicians, painters or whatever, now use their expertise in other fields. However, we know that they are at work in schools, in the NHS, in prisons, in teacher training and in management training, and they are doing a great job—which we have not properly learned to value or even to recognise.
§ There is, regrettably, still a great tendency in this country to regard training for and education in the arts as at best of secondary importance and at worst frivolous and self-indulgent. We have only to listen to the kind of language routinely used to describe people who work in the arts—"luvvie", "arty-farty" to see—how easy it is to convey the message that nothing of "real" value can be derived from taking them seriously. Even I, who have led a blamelessly hardworking existence in the arts, have from time to time been aware of a mild, but palpable, hostility from some quarters to the way I earn my living. I think that it derives from the belief that my colleagues and I are in some way getting away with it—that we are being paid to have a good time while other people do the real work and bring home the bacon.
§ Of course, I do not imagine for a moment that anyone in your Lordships' House harbours such views, but I suspect that noble Lords know what I am talking about. The truth is that professional artists have contributed hugely to the wealth and reputation of this nation, as the achievements of my noble friend Lady Rendell—whom I am delighted to see in her place, and who is to speak later in this debate—and the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd-Webber—who is not present, I am sorry to note—among many others, amply demonstrate. Their example inspires other, perhaps less exalted, talent to express itself. That brings me to my final point.
§ I should not like it to be thought that my interest in promoting the cause of education and training in the arts is solely related to how much value they can add to other areas of our lives. Art, of course, has value in itself. To come back to where I began, this country produces some of the finest artists in the world. Apart from those I have already mentioned, I draw your Lordships' attention to the recent success of composers such as Thomas Ades and Mark Anthony Turnage, actors such as Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes, singers such as Ian Bostridge and Amanda 1625 Roocroft, directors such as Sam Mendes and Deborah Warner, and many more who are currently at the top of their chosen professions.
These people have all benefited from the excellence of our education and training institutions and now they are the inspiration for a new generation. It is vital that we continue to invest in excellence of this kind. It represents the best in us. It also reminds us of the vast pool of talent which we have to draw upon, which we must not waste by failing adequately to support it. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made this point in his Romanes lecture in Oxford at the end of last year when he said,
Too many young children lack the chance to learn a musical instrument, or to develop talent in other branches of the arts. Opportunities are too unevenly spread, particularly for those who have so few to start with".
§ Education and training in the arts is a good investment, not a luxury. I am sure that my noble friend the Minister will confirm the Government's commitment to this principle. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Lord Crathorne
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Hudnall, for giving us the opportunity to discuss the arts today. Her credentials for opening the debate are impeccable. She did not mention that she attended the University of York. I am pleased about that as I spend much time at present in York.
I am sure that the noble Baroness will find support from among all the speakers taking part in the debate for the case for,promoting access to, and education and training in, the arts".The points I wish to make in this broadly based debate will be somewhat different from those of the noble Baroness.
This debate is really about broadening the appeal of the arts and encouraging more people to enjoy the wonderful pleasures available in museums, theatres, concert halls, sculpture parks and many other places besides. I suppose the only caveat is that that should not be achieved through any reduction in standards. The pursuit of excellence in all these areas must remain the aim. However, excellence is not always easy to define.
Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, and I had the pleasure of being present at the launch of Sculpture 2000, the year of public sculpture. This is an English Heritage initiative at which the first ever guide to public sculpture was launched. It is a useful book prepared by the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association. It is all about creating greater awareness of public sculpture and where to find it. Antony Gormley spoke at the launch. He spoke particularly about his Angel of the North sculpture and made the point that when it was first produced it was vilified but has now become an accepted and enjoyed part of the landscape. He also said,Art is not an amenity, but a necessity".1626 That is a particularly nice phrase and one that all of us here today would, I think, agree with. However, some noble Lords may have seen in today's papers that people have different ideas about excellence. Antony Gormley's idea of excellent sculpture is somewhat different from that of the chairman of English Heritage. Therefore, defining excellence is difficult, but, as long as this leads to healthy debate, this is surely satisfactory.
The invitation to yesterday's Sculpture 2000 launch was issued, imaginatively, both in writing and in Braille, reminding one of how tactile sculpture can be and reminding one of the fact that people with disabilities of one kind or another greatly benefit from contact with sculpture and, indeed, all the other arts. It is nice that there have been substantial improvements in dealing with people with disabilities. Wheelchair access to buildings and museums is now much improved but by no means perfect. However, wheelchair access becomes difficult where grade I listed buildings are concerned. When I was chairman of the Georgian Group dealing with planning applications, we found that there was an extremely difficult and delicate balance to be struck between creating disabled access while maintaining the integrity of grade I listed buildings.
I wish to mention the government initiative of free entry to museums by 2001. That appears to be an excellent plan. However, I am somewhat confused about where we are with this. I hope that the Minister will mention that point when he replies to the debate. We shall soon be able to visit museums here and abroad on CD-ROMs. The technological advances in these areas are extraordinary, but there is no substitute for actually seeing the real objects. Last week the All-Party Parliamentary Arts and Heritage Group visited the Courtauld Gallery. The impact of seeing works of art which one knows so tremendously well from reproductions was quite overwhelming. We all felt that the virtual reality world will never match the real world.
However, the importance of IT is, of course, enormous. There are areas where more access should be available. I refer, in particular, to the computerised statutory list of grade I and grade II listed buildings. At the moment the only people who have access to this enormously helpful resource are English Heritage and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It really should be available to the National Amenity Societies, with which I have been involved, local planning authorities, academic institutions and, in my view, the general public. I hope that the Minister will comment on that point.
I wish to touch on the lottery. I was a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund in its first year of operation. The results of the expenditure of lottery money are now visible all over the country. It has been of the most enormous benefit.
However, some recent developments are worrying. The addition of another good cause, the New Opportunities Fund, has watered down the amounts available for the arts and the other good causes. This 1627 new good cause covers health and education, areas that we would expect the Government to pay for. It is difficult not to conclude that the lottery is being raided by the Government.
I should like to end by mentioning an event that I am attending in Harrogate tomorrow evening which seems to cover all the points mentioned in the wording on the Order Paper for the debate. It is called JC 2000. It has enabled children to explore the meaning of the millennium—a fusion of religious education, dance, art, drama and music. More than half the primary and secondary schools in the country are participating, that is, about 5 million youngsters from 18,000 schools. Tomorrow's event is one of 12 around the country. The final event takes place in the Albert Hall later in the year.
Those children will become the audiences of, and the participators in, the arts in the future. That is a happy and comforting thought.
§ 8 p.m.
§ Lord Freyberg
My Lords, I too should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Hudnall, for giving us the opportunity to speak about promoting the arts this evening.
Recent visitor figures have confirmed that free admission to museums ensures an increase in visitors and hence encourages the greater access that the Government seek. However, there have been a number of obstacles to implementing free access to the national museums. I hope that the proposal I am about to make, which is the work of two respected bodies, will enable the Government to continue with, and reaffirm the principle of, free admission, and to overcome the difficulties thrown up in implementing it as a policy.
In October 1998, an extra £99 million was made available for museums and galleries over the next three years. Culture Secretary, Chris Smith, stated at the time:this will enable the Trustees of the major national institutions to introduce free access for children from next year, for pensioners the following year, and for all in 2001".—[Official Report, Commons, 28/10/98; WA 197.]In December 1998, the DCMS set aside a £30 million reserve for the final year.
More recently, as the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, stated, a tone of caution has entered into what was once a clear-cut aim. In January of this year, Chris Smith stated:Children have already gone free, pensioners will be going free from April and we will be able to extend that further in the next year".Why then does he no longer talk about free admission for all?
There seem to be two reasons. First, there is a dispute over whether the £30 million is enough to offset the abolition of the national museums' admission charges; the second reason is the VAT problem. The latter has been exacerbated by the large number of lottery-funded major building projects. I shall explain.
1628 Under current legislation, a museum that charges admission is considered a business and can recover VAT on associated expenditure. Museums that do not charge are not considered businesses—with the exception of some activities, such as special exhibitions with entry fees—and therefore cannot claim back VAT on major building projects. The prospect of no longer being able to claim back VAT stops many charging museums from even considering dropping admission fees. Enormous amounts of time and energy have been expended on this problem which could otherwise have been spent on useful projects, from touring exhibitions to education programmes.
Such a situation is directly at odds with the Government's policy of achieving greater access to the national collections. It has been a major obstacle for charging and non-charging museums and galleries alike, which have been forced to grapple with torturous decisions as to whether to make themselves liable for greater costs for the sake of a firmly held principle.
This anomaly causes further uncertainties. First, museums with major capital projects, such as the Tate Gallery and the British Museum, will find it increasingly difficult to avoid introducing entry charges. Secondly, Customs and Excise has declared that it is unhappy with the present partial recovery regime, whereby museums and galleries offer some free admissions—for example, to children and pensioners—but otherwise charge. This means that the future of free entry even for children and pensioners is under threat.
When pressed to resolve the VAT question, the Government have always stated that European legislation on VAT taxation and harmonisation issues prevents them tackling the anomalies as they stand. None the less, there have been extensive discussions and various options have been considered.
In the past six months, on the recommendation of the DCMS, the National Art Collections Fund and the Charities Tax Reform Group have got together to look at ways of sorting out these problems. They have come up with what I consider a simple, ingenious and inexpensive solution. They propose adding an amendment to Section 33 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 to include central government sponsored national museums and galleries.
Put at its most basic, Section 33 is designed to prevent government funds being used to pay tax. Among the list of bodies to which it applies are local authorities, the BBC and ITN News, which can all recover tax related to their non-business activities. National museums and galleries funded by central government qualify by the same rationale. The proposal was submitted to the DCMS in January of this year.
In addition, national museums are no longer autonomous in the way that they used to be. Tough funding agreements and exacting public accountability ensure that, like the BBC, they are in effect public service organisations.
1629 What is so neat about this solution is that it is definitive. Moreover, it will not require primary legislation as the Treasury has the power to add to the list of those eligible for the Act by order. Thus, at a blow, the conflict between the Government's taxation policy and their cultural policy would be eliminated.
Because the only money involved would be the cost to the Treasury of refunding VAT to the non-charging museums, this scheme would not be expensive. In the case of the National Gallery, the Tate Gallery, the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, the annual total would be approximately £3.1 million, based on current calculations. With most of the large lottery-funded projects near completion, now is the time to put this proposal in place.
Furthermore, the EC recently stated that Section 33 of UK VAT law does not conflict with the European common VAT system, and that, if it were applied to the national museums, it,could be considered as a sort of subsidy granted to the bodies mentioned".A challenge from Europe to a controlled amendment such as this is therefore not anticipated.
While I am aware that such a move could act as a precedent for other institutions, it would be possible to ring-fence the national museums as a special case. In other words, the arrangement is confinable and will not open doors to every charity. Local authority museums, in most cases, already reclaim VAT on capital expenses. Like the BBC or ITN, the national museums serve the whole nation; their collections are held on behalf of the public on a long-term basis; and their funding is tied to the delivery of public service objectives. The NACF paper clearly sets out the qualifying criteria. I hope that the Government will look favourably on this proposal.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, when the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Hudnall, introduced the debate so well, she said that she had been accused of being paid to have a good time and getting away with it. In Parliament, that is very unlikely. Politicians who accuse someone of being paid to have a good time and getting away with it will not only be skating on very thin ice but heading towards a big hole in the centre of the pond. I think that the noble Baroness is fairly safe here.
I was attracted to this debate by the original title on the minute which referred to the "performing" arts. In my naivety, I thought that the performing arts would be very similar to sport, which is my interest. I think that they are similar, but they are different in certain ways. The loads and stresses on the body are different. For instance, an athlete uses style and form to achieve distances and speed usually; a dancer controls power and speed to achieve art and form, which is a slight inversion of the two concepts. At least that is the way it appears to me.
As I thought of the similarities—physical fitness is of course one—I found myself coming across other misconceptions about the idea of physical education 1630 being concerned only with sport. I once upbraided one of the noble Baronesses opposite for referring to "non-competitive sport"—and here I am on her patch. The idea is that sport has to be competitive, while dance is a form of physical education and is not competitive; there are activities that give rise to forms of expression excluding the element of competition. It is thus a different world. However, what does strike me as a similarity is that both activities require proper coaching—training is a more appropriate term. That should be done with consideration and should be regulated and backed up by services outside the immediate environment.
As I attempted to research this field, I discovered that most dance training, particularly in participation, is done through private or at least paid-for support. As I spoke to other people, I discovered the many different types of dance. The only other field where I discovered as many activities and accredited bodies was the martial arts sector. All those involved have qualifications, but it is very difficult to follow them up and find out what is going on.
Also, the idea that training needs to be updated surprised many of those to whom I spoke. If you come from the sports world, the idea of updating your training is almost part and parcel of being competent at your job. When talking about paid instruction, it is something that we should be looking to encourage. But that is a matter for the various sections of the internal world of dance to examine.
There is also confusion in regard to qualifications. That means that many people may not have the right type of qualification for safety's sake. As many of those people are involved in small businesses, it will be incredibly difficult to implement any change in this area. As was pointed out to me, word of mouth often guarantees that those who are competent stay. When they push someone forward for higher levels of tuition or higher levels of competitive dancing where awards are given out, usually the good instructors will be those who are part of an organisation. They will thus be recognised and it will be realised what is going on. Thus, there will be some control on them—but not always. It struck me that less competent people would possibly be driven out. But if people are driven out who do not know what they are doing, there is a possibility that people could be damaged; for example, by the inappropriate use of certain dance or warm-up techniques. A twisted knee is a twisted knee. Whether it happens from twizzling on a dance floor or from falling over on a sports pitch, it still hurts.
Therefore, I suggest that the Government should think about ensuring that all local authorities that hire out rooms at least try to make sure that the people and so on to whom they hire them have some form of accreditation. That is probably a good way forward. There is a high drop-out rate among people involved in various forms of physical activity and sport. The rate is particularly high among teenage girls and returning women. On the other hand, dance apparently has a shortage of men. I have a friend who took up Scottish country dancing because he realised that there were very few men involved in it—a message that could 1631 possibly be used in a recruitment drive! If the Government could do that, they would be helping themselves.
Perhaps I may take this opportunity to pursue a developing hobby-horse of mine; namely, the idea that there should be better basic training in sports medicine or supporting medicine from the local doctor and making sure that physiotherapists are better identified than is presently the case. The term is commonly used to describe anyone who wants to call himself or herself a physiotherapist or a sports therapist—there are those who are dance therapists but describe themselves as both dance and sports therapists. I refer to people who are not properly trained, who have not taken the recognised examination at degree level and then received practical training afterwards. I realise that this is not the Minister's responsibility; however, perhaps he will carry the message to those in charge that tighter regulation of such people and increased medical training would be a good idea to encourage people to get the benefit out of dance and dance-related forms of activity. If they can do it safely and know that if something goes wrong they can be treated and return to it, they will remain involved. Those who take up dancing eventually receive some injuries. It is a sad fact that merely by walking you will eventually stub your toe or twist an ankle. Therefore, I hope that the approach I have suggested can be taken forward.
In conclusion, when it comes to the arts, the more I have researched, the more I have realised that I must tread very carefully before volunteering to speak just outside my field again.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Lord Colwyn
My Lords, it is a great pleasure for me to follow the noble Lord, Lord Addington. As a fellow member of the House of Lords Rugby Team, I am very impressed with his knowledge of dance. I am sorry that we shall not hear from the noble Lords, Lord Puttnam and Lord Jenkins of Putney, but I suppose that for a debate that was due to begin at 5.30, we are running slightly late.
It was just under two years ago that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, introduced a similar debate. In her reply, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, stressed the importance that the Government place on access to and education ill the arts and pledged support for students. She repeated the Labour Party manifesto commitment to,review the scale and quality of all courses which serve our cultural industries and to identify ways in which existing budgets can he spent more effectively to achieve higher quality, better targeted training".In his preface to the Labour Party's Strategy for a Cultural Policy, the Prime Minister said,the arts and cultural industries help define who we are as a nation. They enrich our quality of life and create a thriving society. They have enormous economic benefits and bring enjoyment to millions and for far too long arts and culture have stood outside the mainstream, their potential unrecognised in Government. It has to change and under Labour it will".1632 As I said then, it has changed—but not in the way that was expected. The Secretary of State for Education announced that arts and music would no longer have a place in the primary school curriculum and that there should be more time for numeracy and literacy. I reminded your Lordships of the importance of the fourth R—namely, rhythm—which has been highlighted in research by several countries, showing that young people who are taught music in schools have increased memory and reasoning capacity, improvements in participatory and time management skills and eloquence.
Rhythm leads me to jazz. I must declare an interest as co-chairman of the Parliamentary Jazz Group and as an average performer on the trumpet. In November 1996, the Arts Council published its jazz policy, recognising the importance of this art form and its inadequate profile in the UK. It said:In the last 30 years, many British Jazz musicians have established themselves as original voices within the global evolution of jazz. Their work is well documented and the stature of their achievements acknowledged by their colleagues and audiences abroad. However, there has been insufficient opportunity in this country for this important contribution to world music to be fully recognised by audiences and for the work to be adequately profiled in Britain".Jazz is a major contributor to the arts throughout the world. All other art forms have been historically patronised. It is right that that should happen—but jazz deserves to be and must also be included. Very few major cities in this country do not have an active jazz scene—it would be even greater if the Government could proceed with changes to the regulations affecting public entertainment licences. The Parliamentary Jazz Group has been lobbying successive Arts Ministers to do away with the two-in-a-bar rule for many years. In the debate on jazz on 15th February in another place, the Secretary of State said that he was,actively reviewing the constraints that the licensing system places on musical performance in such venues, and I hope that in due course we shall be able to introduce deregulatory measures to assist the broad picture".—[Official Report, Commons, 15/2/00; col. 190WH.]Perhaps it is a little early to ask for a progress report, but I hope that the Minister will remind his right honourable friend of the importance of this change and at the same time consider the venues that are licensed and pay heavily for that licence.
The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh—whom I thank for this opportunity to discuss jazz—will be surprised, I expect, to hear that jazz and opera audiences are very similar. About 3 million people attend jazz concerts and four or five times that number admit to an interest in jazz.
Jazz Services, an organisation funded by the Arts Council, was formed to promote the growth and development of jazz. It has advocated increased public support for jazz in the UK, and in February 1996 made representations to the then National Heritage Committee, which stated:We do not believe that the different level of overheads in the performance of jazz and opera explains the massive discrepancy between the subsidy per member of the audience in the two forms of music".1633 The Arts Council should look again at the funding of live jazz played by British musicians, in particular the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. This great band, which trains and encourages young people to perform jazz, has recently lost its sponsorship funding and been offered an additional £500 by the Arts Council. In the debate in the other place on 15th February the Secretary of State announced a further 24.4 per cent increase in funding in 2001–02. That will bring its funding up to £25,500, which is still derisory for an organisation that at any one time has about 200 young musicians. The principal, Bill Ashton, who has produced many world-class musicians, and Paul Eshelby, who is responsible for NYJO2, which takes on and trains school age musicians and acts as a feeder for the main orchestra, should be congratulated on being able to manage on such a low budget. I am aware that they need about £100,000 to carry out their responsibilities as they would wish.
It is not a valid argument to say that opera and classical music have proportionally much higher costs. But, sadly, this funding is in line with the reality of the situation. In 1999–2000 the Arts Council subsidised each opera seat by £12.75, each classical concert seat by £2.26 and each jazz seat—wait for it—by 25p. Since 1997 opera funding has increased by 52p per head and jazz funding has fallen by 4p.
In February of this year Arts Council News reported that the Welsh National Opera was to receive stabilisation funding and grants in excess of £4.5 million in 2001 and an extra £200,000 in 2002. This is extraordinary when taken with the grant by the Arts Council of Wales of over £2.5 million in 1997–98. As it appears that the Arts Council of England is keeping the Welsh National Opera afloat, perhaps the Minister is able to say whether he expects any funding for the Welsh Jazz Society from the same source.
In conclusion, I refer to the National Touring Programme which uses lottery funds to support the distribution of work across a broad range and scale of arts disciplines to audiences in England. The Arts Council has made an initial commitment to the programme for two years which encourages dynamic relationships between artists and producers, venues and promoters and audiences. It encourages new networks and the commissioning of new works and explores new ways to present work from a diversity of sources and cultural backgrounds. The National Touring Programme is for awards over £5,000. Effectively, this rules out much of the touring activity that the old scheme used to support, as many smaller bands would not while touring reach the £5,000 target. It seems incongruous that a big influx of funding means that the least well off artists are cut off from a vital source of funds. I hope that the Arts Council will have another look at this.
Two years ago the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, chided me for not playing my trumpet during the debate. I had made plans for a performance in case I did not survive the electoral process. It would have entailed leaving the Chamber with an appropriate jazz classic by way of protest. But I am still 1634 here. It would perhaps be unfair to Black Rod to force him to decide what to do if I produced my trumpet this evening.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, was the noble Lord intending to play "When the Saints go Marching out"?
§ Lord Colwyn
My Lords, certainly that was one of the tunes that I had in mind. However, I shall watch the funding situation and consider whether in the future I shall achieve more publicity for jazz by playing a chorus or two of "Nobody Loves you when you're Down and Out" or "Nice Work if you can get it".
§ 8.23 p.m.
Baroness Bendell of Babergh
My Lords, I too begin by congratulating my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Hudnall on instituting this useful and interesting debate and on her excellent and accomplished opening. It is commonly held that it is impossible to teach anyone to become a writer, but it is, surely, impossible to teach anyone to become a professional in the arts if talent, or at least inclination, is not there in the first place. As one who has taught a writing course and who receives letters almost daily from aspiring writers, I am aware just how present is that inclination in a large number of people.
Various creative writing MA courses are on offer. That of the University of East Anglia is the best-known and has been the training ground for writers who include Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwen. The course is now led by the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion. In his lecture to the Royal Society of Arts on 9th March of this year, he made a plea for funding. Creative writing MA students are at present ineligible for funding. He has asked the Department for Education to look at the situation and has called this lack of support unfair.
Government funding for the arts will be higher this year than it has been at any time for nine years. Under the Arts for Everyone and Arts for Everyone Express pilot schemes, literature made a number of successful applications to the National Lottery, totalling £3 million out of an overall £49 million. For all that, sadly, there is still insufficient support for literature and writers. Perhaps I may quote at greater length from Andrew Motion's lecture:It is the fate of literature always to show up very faintly during discussions about arts funding. And the reason is a simple one. It isn't that nobody cares about literature, or that nobody is employed in its creation and promotion. On the contrary. Our literature is one of the things we mention first when we consider matters of national self-definition, and there are thousands of people involved in it—writers of course but also readers, library-goers, festival visitors and so on, making sure that it continually finds new ways of becoming a central part of civic life".He went on to say that we should remember too that literature underpins all the art forms. Think of theatre without playwrights, opera without librettists and television, radio and film without scriptwriters. He said: 1635English National Opera recently premiered Anthony Turnagc's opera 'The Silver Tassie', a poem by Robert Burns, a play by Sean O'Casey: and now a libretto by Amanda Holden. At every turn the writer".It is not that nobody cares about literature but simply that literature is cheap and is the poor relation in the family of the arts. Is it too much to hope that in future things will change and that literature's contribution to all the arts will be recognised and rewarded?
The Poetry Society is a national organisation which offers training through poetry workshops and an initiative called Poetry Places which funds poets to work in supermarkets. zoos and health centres, among other places. Its aim is neither to discover new poets nor to trivialise poetry but to bring it into people's lives and to show them that it is for the many, not the privileged few.
Probably the best example of training for writers in this country is the Arvon Foundation. Arvon is a regularly funded client of the Arts Council and attracts about 1,000 students annually to its weekly residential courses, which are of two kinds: open courses that are available to all on a first-come-first-served basis and closed courses which are dedicated to students, teachers and special interest groups. The total number of courses is 72, of which 20 are closed courses, and each is run by two professional authors. In 2000–01 Arvon will receive from the Arts Council £123,600, rising to £127,300 in 2001–02. Although widely recognised as the leading training ground for emergent writers, Arvon places equal emphasis on its drive to encourage good reading. As the Literature Director of the Arts Council put it,Not everyone will leave an Arvon course a professional writer but it would be highly unusual not to leave as a better reader".This brings me to those innumerable writers who are not, and never will he, professionals. Art as a hobby for the writer is probably only equalled by art as a hobby for the painter. Samuel Johnson gave the opinion, which would be shared by few, that,No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money".As one who has been a professional writer for nearly 40 years, I would not advise anyone to enter writing with the aim of making money. Few succeed in living by writing. Nor should fame be,the spur that the clear spirit doth raise",but, rather, a burning desire to write. Amateurs derive enormous pleasure from the act of trying to write and the stretching of their imagination. This is even more true of those who have regularly attended writing courses and learnt something of the craft which will provide them with endless intellectual stimulus.
We should not take that narrow view of art and literature—or anything else—which holds that only those who can earn their livelihood from them should be eligible for access to them. Writing is the least costly of all the arts to practise, the necessary materials being basically only sheets of paper and a pen. or at any rate a word processor. The pleasure and entertainment that it brings to those who strive to achieve writing success, 1636 if only the kind that is satisfying to themselves, is immeasurable and should be encouraged in every possible way, including the financial.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Baroness Massey of Darwen
My Lords, first, I am grateful to my noble friend and mentor Lady Rendell for extracting me from the Bishops Bench so that I may speak. I am grateful too to my noble friend Lady McIntosh for introducing the debate and for speaking so eloquently and passionately. I do not speak as a producer of art, a professional performer, or even an outreach performer, but as an avid consumer of arts of many kinds. I shall focus my remarks on a limited sphere; namely, the importance of the arts in education for young people. In particular I shall discuss the arts in the new national curriculum framework for schools and give examples from outreach programmes for young people.
The arts are keenly embraced by young people from an early age if they are given an opportunity to explore them. The arts open the minds and imaginations of young people of all abilities. Some form of the arts can be accessible to children who may reject other aspects of schooling. I remember teaching children in an inner city school whose lives and behaviour could have been desperate had it not been for a particular talent in, for example, dance or music.
Performing in the arts trains qualities essential in general education and for life—qualities such as self-discipline and team work. Performing in an aspect of the arts can raise self-esteem and confidence. Our National Youth Theatre, opera and orchestras are inspiring examples of young people's enthusiasm and commitment. Importantly, involvement in the arts while very young not only cultivates performance talent but creates an audience base for the future, as my noble friend Lady McIntosh said. While some people may not be talented in the arts, they can be encouraged to enjoy the arts and to come to them with discernment.
I want to consider, first, how the new national curriculum framework for primary and secondary schools will contribute to education in the arts. I am not here discussing specialist schools for the arts, of which there is a growing number, but generalist maintained schools.
At key stages 1 and 2, the primary school age range, it is stated that children should have an entitlement to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes in subjects including the arts, and be expected to reach certain standards. The first enthusiasm and critical faculties are developed at a young age.
I can give only one or two examples here lifted from the curriculum frameworks for young children. In English, children are expected to learn to appreciate how speech varies, to organise what is said and take account of the needs of the listeners, to sustain concentration, to ask questions to clarify their understanding, and, in group discussion, to give reasons for their opinions and actions. In drama, they are expected to use language and actions to explore 1637 and convey situations, characters and emotions and to comment constructively on a drama they have watched or taken part in. In art and design they are expected to investigate a range of materials and processes, review their work and learn about visual and tactile elements, including colour, pattern and texture, line and tone, and form and space. In music, they are expected to create musical patterns, explore, choose and organise sounds, use voices expressively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes, rehearse and perform with others, listen with concentration and learn about pitch, tempo, texture and silence.
As I said, that is for the youngest children. The kind of arts education promoted here is far removed from some of the ideas around when I was young, when I remember tracing shapes, and tunelessly and monotonously singing, "The British Grenadiers". I do still remember it—and perhaps we can have the chorus at the end of the debate with trumpet accompaniment!
The curriculum develops in a spiral way, encouraging more complexity and depth in performance or appreciation of the arts as the child matures. I am also aware that, outside the statutory curriculum, many enthusiastic teachers are running writing and reading clubs, producing school plays, dance events, and so on.
I am a governor in a school which has an intake from many different cultures. The schools capitalises on that and exposes children to literature, art, dance and drama from around the world. A recent Gulbenkian report, Latent Talent, reminds us that children living in limited social and economic conditions should have access to the arts. This access may come from outside the school, from organisations which encourage creative performance and critical thinking.
One such organisation—I am aware that there are many—is Opera North, based in Leeds, which runs an energetic community outreach programme. It works with students in primary and secondary schools and in further and higher education, with special needs schools and with deaf students. It carries out in-service training for teachers. Every year in the north of England it carries out around 30 projects aimed to increase access to existing opera and to devise new work. For example, in 1999 a new opera involving 90 students was performed on the stage of the Leeds Grand Theatre. The students, with help from Opera North, wrote the music and text and rehearsed and performed the piece over a five-week period.
Another exciting example was when 30 young people aged between 12 and 15—some deaf, some hearing, and of mixed ability—worked with singers to understand and explore the opera "Carmen". All then attended a sign-interpreted performance. The comments from young people attending the special projects are proof of success. Two students aged 14 from Bradford said, "You changed our perspective of opera, which was one of total boredom, into elements of compassion and commitment".
The Opera North Community and Education report for last year states: 1638Providing access to opera goes beyond offering cheaper ticket prices for young people; it includes the demystification of the art form itself, and full participation in the creation of meaning. [We] strive to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to engage with opera in a real and significant way".It seems to me that keys to access and education in the arts are about involving people as young as possible in ways to which they can relate and cultivating enthusiasm, making the arts exciting.
I should like the Minister to comment, first, on how progress in arts education in schools will be maintained and monitored, if that is within his brief. Secondly, what support are the Government giving to educational programmes developed by theatres, in particular in the regions outside London?
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Baroness Linklater of Butterstone
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, on introducing this important subject. I agree with every word of her excellent speech and will probably largely echo it.
The case for promoting access to, and education and training in, the arts should be overwhelmingly obvious. But it is rather like being in favour of world peace. It should be a "given"; but reality is often far different. In education, in the world of work, among minorities of all kinds, and in deprived areas of this country, the arts are seen at best as peripheral and of secondary importance, or as an optional extra. There is often a perceived division between various traditions in the arts—classical, modern, traditional, popular and others—and those splits are often reflected and echoed in generational and social class divisions.
To take an obvious example, the perception of opera as elitist, inaccessible, expensive and an irrelevance is familiar to us all. My husband is chairman of the Scottish Arts Council. He took recently a young man, devoted to SKA music and at home in some very peculiar low dives, to his first Wagner opera. It was a great performance of "Parsifal" by Scottish Opera. The young man emerged saying that it was one of the best things he had ever been to.
Access, education and training in the arts in vastly greater amounts are not only desirable but essential if those perceptions are to be broken down. They are not only desirable but essential for the health and welfare of our society. I use three examples to argue an apparently overwhelming case referring to areas where the arts are particularly important but often inaccessible: to the disabled, the disadvantaged and those in remote communities.
First, I want to talk about my school. It is a specialist school in Scotland catering for educationally fragile children. Those children are classic under-achievers, drowning in mainstream education, who have the lowest possible perception of themselves. In my school, the arts are central to the school's ethos. Being good at music, drama, dance or art is irrelevant. The arts are a means of finding a voice; of expressing yourself and feeling good about yourself.
1639 I should like to tell your Lordships about Elizabeth. After her father had been killed by the "shining path" terrorists, she was brought to Scotland from Peru by a friend of his. She was a virtual mute and very shy. We discovered that she loved dressing up. In fact, it was on the stage that she found her voice.
The first Christmas at my school we performed a nativity play and Elizabeth was the Archangel Gabriel. Towards the end, I stood beside her adoptive father who was a tough explorer and adventurer. I heard him say almost to himself, "This is wonderful". I saw tears pouring down his cheeks. That first nativity play brought all the children together as a team and helped Elizabeth to find her voice and to express herself as never before. It reached us all, including her tough father. That was achieved through drama. None of the children would have been on any kind of stage elsewhere. Suddenly they were stars shining for the benefit of us all.
My second example is very different, but it relates to another school. Dog Kennel Hill school in south London used to be a famous under-achieving, tough school. The vast majority of pupils received free dinners; above the average number had English as a second language; and bullying was rife. The police were a familiar presence at the school. The new headmistress, recognising the potential of music for her children, developed music and drama. She introduced it as a core element of her curriculum and in so doing turned her school around. The approach was totally inclusive; it was not just for those who were good at music and drama, but for everyone.
When I visited that large school during an assembly, the children sat in neat rows while six performances from different groups took place. The audience was rapt; you could have heard a pin drop. The child sitting next to me—he was quite a big boy—was almost in tears. He was clearly unhappy. I asked a member of the staff what was the matter with him. She said, "Well, the trouble is that he has been impossible all week and so we had to tell him that he couldn't perform today". That was the greatest and worst sanction that could be applied.
I was later introduced to an Arab boy called Iliass who, I was told, had special educational needs. He spoke three languages: Arabic, English and Shakespeare. Shakespeare was his first language because he had taken part in a production of "The Merchant of Venice" at the Globe. That was a wonderful experience for him.
However, that is not the end of the story because that clearly under-achieving school recently completed another Ofsted inspection. The results were glowing and it was stated that,overall standards were above the national average".Not surprisingly, while other schools are dropping the arts in favour of concentrating on tests, this school has held on to the arts as one of its priorities—and it is shining.
1640 Finally, I shall give a different example from my home country of Scotland. It is a story of the Feisean movement. "Feis" in Gaelic means festival and the movement has taken off with a vengeance. It was started by a priest on the island of Barra. He was worried that his community was dying and that the young people were leaving. The Feisean movement is targeted at young people in the area who are brought together for three or four days at a time and taught traditional music, dance and storytelling by established dancers, musicians, singers and the like. That culminates in public performances. The movement has now spread to urban areas such as Bishopriggs.
That initiative illustrates how the arts can bring together communities and generations, resorting a sense of identity, self-worth and shared pride. Fragile communities, such as those West Highlands communities, have been regenerated through such artistic experiences. What could be more important than that sense of empowerment through the arts? And because it is through traditional art forms, there is a very clear sense of holding hands with our cultural past while also developing our present and future traditions.
Some research on the outcomes of the Feisean movement were recently conducted and are most interesting. Seventy-eight per cent of the respondents reported that they had developed more self-confidence; 79 per cent discovered new skills in their daily lives; 93 per cent felt more creative and able to take more risks in their lives; and 96 per cent had made more friends.
For a sense of self-worth, confidence and pleasure, the arts are vital. They can inform every aspect of our lives and should never be regarded as something apart. As a society, as a nation, and as individuals, we express ourselves most potently and creatively through the arts—and we ignore or marginalise them at our peril.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Baroness Crawley
My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lady McIntosh for introducing this important and entertaining debate. I also thank her for the great expertise which she brought to it in her opening remarks.
There can be no doubt that the access of young people to the performing arts and to cultural life more widely enables them to reinforce talents, skills and enthusiasms which can result in them becoming tomorrow's communicators, achievers, entrepreneurs and innovators. As a former youth theatre leader, I do not need convincing of the towering benefits of investing in access to the arts for young people. I know that my students went on to become the most communicative milkman, nursery nurse, market gardener and council worker in their town.
The skills required for tomorrow's world are, as many colleagues have said, human resource and communication skills. They will rely heavily on the creativity which training in the performing arts can bring. The benefits of the arts to the business world, as 1641 my noble friend said, have long been recognised because the arts enable perceptions to be challenged and minds to be opened. An arts-based approach can free up corporate thinking to recognise the untapped skills and talents of people in the workplace. An arts-based approach can help explore how businesses can develop their leadership skills and address their management of change within companies. It can also provide an entertaining and inspiring experience as a catalyst for action and implementation.
In order to prosper as a country, we need highly motivated people who are unafraid to look at alternative approaches to organisational and leadership development in business. That can be achieved through training in the performing arts. The security of arts in formal education has never been more important, as the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, so eloquently said, in order to raise standards of cultural education and training in its own right and to highlight the role that the practice, enjoyment and study of cultural subjects can bring and make to raising the standards of academic achievement.
It is vital that we have high levels of cultural activity in school, starting with well-resourced pre-school children's play and moving through primary and secondary education in support of improved educational standards. It is equally important that we give young people who are to work in the theatre, creative, cultural and leisure industries—and we must remember that the creative industry is a major growth area in our economic life—the necessary skills. Organisations such as Metier do excellent work in this particular area, and I am proud to be a patron of Métier.
We must also make sure that culture fulfils its huge potential for contributing to social inclusion and the well-being of the wider community. DCMS has established a new education unit to articulate the aims and champion the contribution of cultural education and training. Its establishment has led to new initiatives, such as the £180 million of new money to preserve and extend music in schools, the £70 million from the New Opportunities Fund for the public library IT network, and the £180 million from the New Opportunities Fund for out-of-school hours activity and childcare.
We need to ensure that the work of DCMS with DfEE on the revision of the national curriculum from September 2000 leads to arts education being placed firmly at the heart of our education system for the future. These initiatives are to be welcomed and must be given as much cross-party political support as possible if the benefits of the performing arts and cultural activity generally are to be rooted in our educational system.
Recently the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport established regional cultural consortia in each of the English regions. The aims of the consortia are to bring together the cultural and creative industries in each of those regions, including tourism, sport and lottery providers, to forge links across the spectrum of cultural and creative industries and to 1642 create a common view and a common vision expressed in the delivery of a cultural strategy for each of the eight English regions by the end of this year.
Tomorrow I shall be the opening speaker at a West Midlands conference—the first of its kind—which will bring together lottery distributors as a forum and will focus on community building strategy. It will be partnership in action to open up access. As chair of the West Midlands Regional Cultural Consortium, I see one of the most important aspects of this new regional activity as being the opening up of access to the arts for those who have previously been excluded from them. We know that participation in the arts has a beneficial social impact. The arts can contribute to neighbourhood renewal, build confidence and encourage stronger community groups.
In the past, those benefits have often been overlooked both by arts providers and by those involved in area regeneration programmes. That cannot continue. In their guidance to those charged with regional cultural strategy, the Government made it clear that, while not every artist should be a social worker by another name, or that artistic excellence should take second place to community regeneration, they want the benefits of the arts to be widely spread and the pool of talent available to be as wide as possible. I express our thanks again to my noble friend Lady McIntosh for giving us all an opportunity to speak out for the soaring benefits of the arts to human achievement.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Lord Haskel
My Lords, it was the part about "education and training" in my noble friend's Motion that set me thinking about this debate. I am most grateful to her for setting me that task.
My noble friend Lady Rendell suggested that some would considereducation and training in the artsto be a non sequitur. How can one train people to be creative? Moreover, is it not a waste of money to train thousands of people for professions which perhaps can absorb only hundreds? The higher education statistics tell us that in 1997–98, 25,676 students graduated from United Kingdom higher education institutions in creative art and design. We can be sure that that is far more than the number who actually work as artists, designers, actors, writers or musicians. Is that a waste? My response is a firm "no". It is money and effort well spent. I agree with the many noble Lords who said that skills acquired in the arts are transferable to other aspects of life which benefit greatly from that transfer.
So far as creativity training is concerned, my noble friend Lady Crawley is right. The explosion of courses is a welcome sign that creativity is rewarded and welcomed in British life, especially in business and industry. In his report, All Our Futures, Professor Ken Robinson put it rather well:Many businesses are paying for courses to promote creative abilities, to teach the skills and attitudes that are now essential for economic success but which our education system is not designed to promote".1643 People who are trained in the arts enrich our lives in many ways. Perhaps they do so in rather everyday and mundane ways; for example, the John Lewis department stores have always had a high standard of window display. I happen to know that the person in charge of that was a very promising artist who graduated from the Slade. Noble Lords who have communicated with company call centres or telephone sales offices will be impressed by the manner in which they have been addressed. The telephone operators were probably trained by a graduate of one of our leading drama schools who never made it on to the West End stage. Those things improve the quality of our lives. Perhaps even the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, drills teeth in a more gentle and pleasing way thanks to his training as a jazz musician!
Neither do I believe that all the money spent on creativity courses is wasted. Of course, not everyone will be a Laurence Olivier or a David Puttnam; but creativity also means bringing fresh interpretation to familiar concepts, to familiar processes and to ordinary tasks. Creativity detects gaps in our knowledge and tries to fill them. Those incremental steps are responsible for 95 per cent of the improvements to our quality of life. The stroke of genius occurs very rarely.
Of course, many of the people on whom money has been spent will enter the creative industries and benefit our economy, especially now that we are in a digital and knowledge-based economy where there are whole new areas to be explored by people educated and trained in the arts. Again, Professor Robinson put it rather well:The new knowledge-based economies in particular will increasingly depend on these abilities".Does all this education and training produce excellence? I honestly do not know. As the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, told us, excellence in the arts is very complex. It is based on imagination—one of the least tangible of assets. I believe that we must maintain the kind of environment that supports artistic endeavour and creativity because that is more likely to produce excellence.
The opposite is also true. If we encourage conformity, that is what we shall get. The more we encourage education and training in the arts, the greater the chance of producing excellence. My noble friend Lord Jenkins of Putney—I am sorry that he is not present—wrote a book reflecting on his years as Minister for the Arts, and expressed it rather well:Geniuses do not spring out of nowhere: art reflects the society that begets it".He is right. Creativity and excellence reflect our society and spring from it. But who knows where to find excellence?
I was interested to note that the BBC—a great patron of the arts and one of our greatest artistic assets, which takes training very seriously—is currently spending £5 million on advertisements looking for new talent. It obviously thinks that new 1644 talent is out there somewhere. It is necessary to seek out creative people with the gift of excellence. There seem to be no fixed rules for training them.
Another advantage of education and training in the arts is that it promotes artistic literacy. Artistic literacy helps us to recognise creativity and excellence when they are presented to us. We all know about excellence not being recognised during the lifetime of artists. There was a time, many years ago, when the National Gallery rejected work by living artists. There was a time when Cezanne and Gauguin were called frauds; so were Debussy and Strauss. People said that they could not hear a single melody in Wagner or RimskyKorsakov. Perhaps they are saying the same sort of thing today of Harrison Birtwhistle and Chris Offili, last year's Turner Prize winner. But what shocks us today is accepted tomorrow. The noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, reminded us that this is what happened to the "Angel of the North".
Education and training in the arts makes us more able to respond to these challenges, by virtue of our artistic literacy. It also has the big advantage of helping us to bridge the gap between high art and low art. Most high art was low art at some time or another. History teaches us that.
So I think it is important to remember that history is not over; it is happening all the time. We should remember, too, that education and training in the arts is not only about acquiring skills, knowledge and information. It is also about giving students the confidence to challenge what they are learning. I suspect that those who make this challenge are the creative people who produce excellence and make history.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
My Lords, I chair the British Council, which has the role of promoting Britain abroad. In recent years, we have been conducting research into perceptions of Britain in other countries. One of the resounding success stories for our nation is that we are seen as being pre-eminent in the arts. Some of our finest ambassadors for Britain are our artists, our actors, our musicians, our designers—indeed all our arts professionals.
Your Lordships will be familiar with the art exhibitions and the theatrical productions that the British Council tours abroad. What is less well known is that many creative people go from Britain, under the Council's sponsorship, to other countries to work collaboratively with artists there. They go to teach in the field of the arts and to take part in all manner of creative exchange, which greatly strengthens our reputation in those countries.
World-wide we are also recognised for the excellence that we achieve in our schools of music and drama. Many students seek places here in Britain because they want to take advantage of those opportunities. World-wide, Britain is considered, still, an exemplar in arts education and training. There has been phenomenal growth in this area over 25 years.
1645 I too thank my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Hudnall for the opportunity to pay tribute to our artists and arts professionals, and also to our arts educationalists. As my noble friend said, there are many ways in which arts professionals give themselves and their time to schools and colleges to assist and support them in delivering a dynamic, culturally diverse curriculum. What they provide is education through the arts as well as education in the arts. Many of our children, pupils and students are learning about history, politics and governance through the medium of the arts.
This passion and commitment from arts professionals is reciprocated by the schools and colleges. Arts-led projects in schools are frequently born out of complex creative and financial partnerships nowadays. Diverse partners—local theatres with schools, orchestras with schools, indeed even, as we have heard, our opera houses with our schools—can be brought together to ensure that educational institutions are a hub of learning, not just for the pupils and students, but for the community beyond, a community that is increasingly recognising that lifelong learning can be made a tangible reality.
The only warning I would give is that that ecology of complex partnerships is very fragile, and it needs to be nurtured by governments. It is—and I say this with sensitivity to the great pressures on government—the responsibility of government to ensure that the structures, both organisational and financial, are in place to reap the maximum benefit from this passion and commitment of the arts community and education providers.
I know that the Government recognise the importance of the arts, but, as others have said tonight, there are always competing demands for resources, and so often the arts are nudged to the back of the queue. Because of cuts in earlier decades, it has been recognised that local education authorities have more than halved the advisory posts in the arts. Advisory services are under-staffed by two-thirds in arts expertise. Only one quarter of LEAs have a full complement of full-time advisers or inspectors for each of the four main arts subjects—art, music, dance and drama. Less than half of LEAs fund schemes to put artists into schools, and only one-third support theatre in education work. Indeed, infant pupils now spend less than half the time on arts that they did 10 years ago.
So there are many challenges for us. I ask us to examine the way in which the national curriculum is organised and how schools interpret its requirements with regard to the arts and learning. Should we not be looking at the training, employment and expertise of teachers? I, like others who have spoken, also have concern about the funding of schools and the advice and support services and other resources available to them.
Like many in the House, I suspect, I often receive letters from students facing hardship, particularly students in the arts who, if they are from underprivileged families, find it very difficult to 1646 proceed with training in drama, music or dance. I am concerned too about the funding for our wonderful music and drama schools, some of which face very real pressures.
Extraordinarily innovative and radical work in arts education and training is taking place but the economies in which they operate are fragile. I chair an arts organisation here in London—the London International Festival of Theatre—and it is a wonderful arts organisation. Anyone who knows it always speaks with great enthusiasm for what it has achieved. It has pioneered an innovative education programme that places arts education initiatives not just in a local context but in a global context. It works in many of the most underprivileged parts of London. At present, it has a project in Hackney called Style of our Lives. It is extremely exciting to see the way in which it brings together children of different school ages—secondary and primary school children. It brings together the parents working around those arts initiatives. It provides an extremely imaginative access to the arts.
We have discovered that such projects not only introduce young people to the arts and improve their creative talents but they also introduce them to arts venues which may have been extremely frightening to them and which they would have said were not for the likes of them before being introduced to them through arts organisations and through their schools. The projects help them with communication skills; increased ability in planning and organising; problem-solving skills, about which we hear employers talk so frequently as being essential to modern employability; improved ability to collect, organise and analyse information; and many other talents.
I recently received a communication from the London Sinfonietta, which again was talking about the great way in which organisations and musical institutions like themselves take a pride in the role that they play for others. But it points out that it is all the other additional skills which come from arts education which are of such assistance to young people.
The arts cannot be an add-on. They are an essential part of our national sustenance. We should be creating an ethos of creativity, not a compartment of creativity within our schools and educational institutions. We talk about a creative Britain but it will continue to be a creative Britain only if we make sure that future generations are given better opportunities in the arts.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Viscount Falkland
My Lords, this has been an unusually distinguished debate. It is the first time that I have spoken in a debate in your Lordships' House when there has been absolute equality between the number of noble Baronesses and noble Lords who have spoken. That is the kind of balance that I like to see in this House.
This debate on the arts was most ably introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, who is ideally equipped to open a debate of this kind. It is extremely appropriate that there should be so many noble 1647 Baronesses in it. A speech which I particularly liked was that of the noble Baroness, Lady Massey. She made me wish that not only my children but I myself had had the kind of inspiration and stimulation which she gave us through the benefit of the virtuoso display of language in her speech. I was stimulated in that regard by my mother, so again it is appropriate that there are so many noble Baronesses speaking in the debate. I believe that if we are lucky, most us have our initial interest and exposure to the arts from our mothers. It is unusual for that to be from a father, but it happens from time to time. My father was interested in the arts but only in a rather limited sense.
This debate was originally on the performing arts and I prepared my remarks for a contribution about the performing arts, not least because it is one area about which I know something, or about which I did know something because I spent some years working in a theatrical agency. So I had a good deal to do with young actors and students. My responsibility was for young actors who joined the agency if we were lucky enough to secure them. My employer scoured the drama schools for suitable talent and we then had to compete with other agencies for those talented youngsters. I had no training to do that, apart from an enormous enthusiasm for the performing arts.
All of those competing against me would say the same thing. We noticed immediately at RADA or the Guildhall or LAM DA the people whom we wanted to watch. It struck me—and I still hold the view—that a talent to perform and project yourself is a talent with which you are born. But it is not enough to have that. Many people have that talent and use it in many different ways. To make a living out of that talent is an extremely difficult path to follow. I recall asking a rather technical question in the House about actors' tax anomalies and national insurance stamps. I made a plea that such anomalies should be corrected by government. A couple of days later, out of the blue I received an irate letter from someone who had picked up on the matter on television asking why I was standing up for people who were rich, pampered parasites and so on. There is a mistaken perception—on which the noble Baroness touched—about performing artists. People think only about successful and famous artists. They forget the great deal of work done by those who do not reach such high levels. We cannot all be stars.
The noble Baroness mentioned the need to encourage audiences for tomorrow. That is an important point. I am extremely concerned even about my own children and grandchildren. With all the other distractions such as the Internet, the new technologies and the new game—with which noble Lords may be familiar—called Pokêmon, which seems absolutely to transfix children between the ages of six and 10 almost 24 hours per day, how will we get them to begin to read and to appreciate the traditional arts in order that they may be the audiences of tomorrow? It is a difficult and challenging problem.
1648 I spoke in an education debate on the importance of drama teaching in schools because I had benefited from it, having been a rather recalcitrant student. I was invited by someone enthused by the debate in general—not about my contribution—to a production in a south London school. It was the first production at that school. The play was "Macbeth". It was an ambitious production full of deprived children, mostly from ethnic minority communities. I was most impressed. One would not have said that any particular child would have gone on to greater things as a professional, but the enthusiasm, involvement and imagination were extraordinary to see. That point ties in with the moving speech of my noble friend Lady Linklater who talked about her experience with the little girl.
It has been a fascinating debate. In winding up I should like to mention many of the speeches. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, is not with us. He withdrew earlier because he was not feeling well. I met him at supper, which meant that I was a couple of minutes late for the opening speech of the noble Baroness, for which I apologise. I am happy to tell your Lordships that he had recovered by supper time, but of course by then it was too late. He told me that he wished to pay tribute in his speech to Viscount Esher's contribution to theatre. I wish that he had done so. Of course, had he spoken, we should not have had the balance about which I held forth earlier.
I have always marvelled at the training of drama students in this country. The drama schools have done a most extraordinary job. I used to go to see performances at the drama schools. I wondered at the limited resources available to the students and the schools and at the complexity and thoroughness of the courses. That was more than 30 years ago, I am sorry to say. But the same still applies today. There are now four major drama schools in London. RADA is still—if I may say so, not wishing to upset Mr Mandelson—the Grenadier Guards, as it were, of the drama schools. The others are LAMDA, the Central School of Speech and Drama—which was always a wonderful school—and the Guildhall. The latter two are both attached to universities.
The difficulties students face in gaining admission to those drama schools are extreme. They take only about 2 per cent of applicants to their three-year courses. That is tough. Many children are enthused by acting and, perhaps rather like the daughter of Mrs Worthington, they believe that it is a glamorous career. They soon learn that it is not once they become involved in the training. It is physically gruelling and a strain on the imagination and on one's other resources. Those who succeed and go on to lead a professional life have gone through the mill. That is why we have such excellence in this country. It is admired worldwide. Students come out of that exacting mill and entertain audiences from all over the world in our theatres, on television and on the screen—not so much on the screen, I fear, but that situation may improve, although several of our actors have had success in the English-speaking cinema in the United States.
1649 The worrying matter that I should like to bring to your Lordships' attention is the question of funding. Funding through discretionary grants was always inadequate. That situation has now improved; there is more money for the drama schools. It used to be administered by the Arts Council of England but it is now being shared with the funding councils for higher and further education.
The standards for drama schools are set by the National Council for Drama Training, which has always been stringent and demanding. That is why so few pupils are selected for and go through the system and why such demands are made of them. At leading drama schools, for example, there must be 34 to 36 hours contact work per week; that is work with teachers.
Many drama courses are available to students at training colleges, which is excellent. However, the admission to such courses is much more generous, with about 45 to 50 per cent of applicants being accepted. Those students are able to apply for grants from the same pot of money to allow them to continue their training as the students at independent schools.
The Higher Education Funding Council has gladly admitted and received the wisdom that the standards set by the council should remain; it is happy to do that. The independent schools are happy to share the pot of money in such a way, provided that the exacting standards are maintained in order to retain the excellence we have always had from our drama schools.
The Further Education Funding Council has not accepted that. It says that it sees no evidence of any qualitative difference between any kind of drama training whatever. I do not think that is right. The admissions percentages are an indication of the difference between those courses and others.
I do not want to see disappointed young people entering into drama courses, admitted too easily and thinking that they can come out and gain employment. It is rather like media studies in universities. Young people are misled because often such studies do not lead to qualifications which allow them to make a living.
I see that I have run out of time. However, that issue needs to be addressed. I do not know whether the Minister will be able to comment on such funding. I believe that what I have said would not in any way mean that any students will be deprived. However, the keeping of high standards is crucial.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Baroness Anelay of St Johns
My Lords, I too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, for giving us the opportunity to examine why there is a special case for promoting access to the arts and education and training in the arts. There has been general agreement around the House tonight that the answer is simply that the arts make us what we are; that must be right.
The arts and artists play a vital role in society. They not only reflect a society's culture but help to make it. They represent the greater part of what is left behind 1650 for future generations. They are not an optional extra, as many noble Lords commented tonight. The arts can bring immediate and tangible benefits to our communities, such as reduced crime, a greater sense of purpose, identity and fellowship. Pupils who engage in music or drama perform better across the whole range of academic subjects.
It is no wonder that over the centuries, especially the last one, authoritarian politicians have made a bee line for the arts. They have used the arts to promote social and cultural uniformity. As soon as any government start to talk about using the arts as a vehicle for promoting social inclusion, all of us are then at risk of treating them as therapies, not as disciplines of excellence. One must take the greatest care that the arts are seen as valuable in themselves and not just valuable if they deliver the social order and prosperity we all want. In promoting participation in the arts as something we can all do, we must not forget to promote the arts also as pursuits that only a very few people can do extremely well. That was a point I first mentioned in a debate on a similar subject brought before the House by the Earl of Clancarty.
As the report, Crossing the Line, points out, the arts sector is wide. It encompasses dance, drama, visual arts and crafts, music, literature, combined arts and new media. It involves a medley of partners from cultural venues to schools and communities, the youth service, government bodies, the private sector and the arts funding system, about which a great deal has been said in this debate. Furthermore, cultural venues themselves vary, not only from large to small, but also from touring to building-based. Regional differences of course present further contrasts. My noble friend Lord Colwyn was right to remind the House that the arts encompass jazz as well. I shall always try to remember his admonition to take note of the fourth "R", rhythm. Having danced to his music, I know that he has certainly got it!
Perhaps I may turn first to the question of access. When the Minister answered a Question recently about free admission to museums, he said that access meant a great deal more than just admission. Of course he is right. However, this Government have promoted the issue of free entry in their speeches both before and after the election. Whatever the semantics of the matter, what has happened is that they have led the public to believe that they would introduce free entry to all national galleries. Indeed, their press release of 24th July 1998 referred to universal free entry in 2001. But the closer we nudge towards 2001, the more the Government seem to shy away from fulfilling that commitment and the more the buck is passed to the trustees.
However, as has already been said in this debate, the VAT anomaly bedevils trustees' attempts to offer free entry to all. As the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, has explained, the National Art Collections Fund recommends what appears to be a straightforward and comprehensive solution; namely, that Section 33 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 should be amended. Do the Government accept that recommendation?
1651 My noble friend Lord Crathorne was right to draw attention to the importance of ensuring that disabled people are able to gain access to the arts. Here I declare an unpaid interest as patron of the Tourism for All Consortium. As my noble friend pointed out, access is not only a matter of easily getting into a building, important though that is. It also concerns layout, signage and so forth. All those elements must be appropriate. Often, it is disabled people themselves who can offer the best advice on these matters.
I should be grateful if the Minister could respond to the following questions. Are disabled people represented on all our regional cultural consortia? How many museums have a disability policy and a disability action plan? Will this become a requirement for applicants for Heritage Lottery Fund funding? Is access for disabled people being built into the new quality standards that are being developed by the Quality, Efficiency and Standards Team, QUEST? Finally, it has been reported in the press that disabled access at the new Royal Opera House is not adequate. Does the Minister have any news of progress on that matter? Because these are questions on matters of detail, I have given the Minister advance notice of them.
When we come to examine education and training in the arts, we must ensure that the needs of both the enthusiast and the professional are considered. Several noble Lords have spoken in detail on that matter in the debate. Like the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, I took note of the briefing from LAMDA. I shall not try to repeat his eloquent argument on their behalf in a timed debate, but would say simply that I endorse the points that he has put forward in support of the need for students of drama to be able to train and know exactly how their funding is arranged so that they have an opportunity to achieve excellence.
The noble Lord, Lord Addington, mentioned accreditation in the world of dance. I believe that there is a loophole here whereby students of dance have, in a sense, a government department that takes responsibility for them. However, their teachers and the qualifications they hold are not officially recognised. The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing sent me a briefing which pointed out that they believe this puts professionally qualified teachers at a disadvantage. Can the Minister give an undertaking that he will look into this in the near future?
In January this year the Government made a somewhat belated response to the report on creativity in schools published last spring by the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education. The announcement of the Artsmark Scheme is welcome; indeed, how could I avoid welcoming it? After all, it puts into effect one of our own policy proposals published in the summer of 1996 in the policy document, Setting the Scene. That set out a comprehensive programme to promote the arts in schools. The NACCCE report makes 59 recommendations in all. How many of those do the Government intend to support and when will they be implemented?
1652 When we promote access to the arts and educational training in them, we need a flourishing arts sector as a backdrop. I was rather intrigued therefore when I read in a newspaper before Christmas a speech by Gerry Robinson, the chairman of the Arts Council, in which he said,The arts in England are dramatically under-funded. We don't fund them to half the degree we should and in the sharpest cases we need more than double".Just a month after that I read the report of the Commons Public Accounts Committee which accused the Arts Council of wasting millions of pounds of public money on bungled projects. The report said that the Arts Council seems,all too ready to give more money to ailing projects",and,reluctant to do the things that could save money by avoiding problems in the first place".Those statements are not exactly complementary to each other, or indeed to the arts world. Which does the Minister believe to be right? Is it Gerry Robinson, the Public Accounts Committee, or both?
Tonight we have had an important debate to which I am sure we shall return. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, referred to the fact that we came on somewhat later than expected and that we might turn into pumpkins. Perhaps I should give the noble Baroness advance warning that arts subjects can be moved to even later hours. I recall, as I am sure the Minister does without too much fondness of the subject, that at one stage we debated the New Opportunities Fund between two and three in the morning. Let us hope we do not do that again.
I am genuinely grateful to the noble Baroness for introducing this debate. I hope we have the opportunity again to emphasise the fact that we must never sacrifice what this country achieves; that is, excellence in the arts.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Hudnall, in her excellent introduction to this debate, quoted the Prime Minister's Romanes Lecture in Oxford last December. I had planned—and shall not abandon my plan—to use that as an introduction to the rather complicated list of comments I should like to make in response to this wide-ranging debate.
The Prime Minister's views have been echoed in all parts of the House over the course of the past couple of hours. He described the fundamental goal of the Government in education as being,an education system combining diversity with excellence".That is a good way of describing, in particular, the objectives we must have for education in the arts. He said:Once we have achieved excellence in basic skills, we need a proper diversity of opportunities beyond so that the aptitudes and abilities of every individual are developed to the full. Education is for life, not for jobs".1653 The Prime Minister quoted a report from a commission in Singapore which described the need to instil qualities such as curiosity, creativity, enterprise, leadership, teamwork and perseverance, developing young people in the moral, social, physical and aesthetic domains, and said that that was our ambition too. My noble friend Lady McIntosh said very much the same thing when she talked of self-confidence.
The Prime Minister referred specifically to music and to the work that David Blunkett has been doing to promote music in our schools. He referred to the opportunities to develop talent in other branches of the arts and expressed warm appreciation of the work for the arts that is being, and can be, done in our schools.
My noble friend was very generous in her speech with her description of the work being done by the Royal Opera House and by Glyndebourne. Indeed, the children's production of "Zoe" has been visited by the Minister for the Arts, who was very impressed by it. My noble friend Lady Massey described the outreach work of Opera North, and the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater, described work being done with schools in partnership with arts professionals in other parts of the country.
However, my noble friend is too modest. She did not describe the excellent access and education work that is carried out by the Royal National Theatre, which has taken on board the need to promote the widest possible access through its programming. It ensures that it has a mixture of programming that appeals to a variety of different audiences, while always maintaining high quality. It is not just about shows aimed primarily at children, such as "Peter Pan" or "Honk! The Ugly Duckling"; it is also about access for children to shows for adults. I believe that we should pay tribute to that.
If we look at the outreach work of arts organisations that are funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the funding agreements we have made with them will, in the course of the next year, be providing an additional 200,000 education sessions. That is evidence of the importance that we attach to the educational role of our leading arts organisations.
I have been briefed to talk about the creative industries as vital to our economic and social life. Of course, that is true. We should not ignore the fact that our creative industries generate revenues of £60 billion a year. They account for 1.4 million jobs; they make a contribution of over 4 per cent to the domestic economy; and they are growing at twice the national average—5 per cent as against 2.5 per cent.
However, the debate has taken the focus the other way round, and I am rather pleased about that. My noble friends Lady McIntosh and Lady Kennedy talked about the excellence and the world-wide reputation of our artists. Indeed, my noble friend Lady Kennedy described them as our ambassadors to the world, which is true. In addition to the economic importance of our creative industries, we should recognise that arts training, which is what we are 1654 talking about in particular this evening, makes people better at other things, as well as providing them with professional education in the arts.
I believe that there is some misunderstanding about government polices on education generally, as well as on education in the arts. For example, the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, seemed to think that there was no longer a place for the arts in the primary curriculum. That is very far from being the case. As the Prime Minister said, we are ensuring with our numeracy and literacy strategies that we achieve excellence in basic skills. But Ofsted says that there is little inspection evidence to support the concern, which I assume the noble Lord was expressing, that literacy and numeracy strategies are undermining standards in the arts.
Similarly, concern has been expressed that the national curriculum could be too prescriptive and could freeze out our arts education. The national curriculum is being made less prescriptive and the contribution of the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, referred, is being taken very seriously by the Department for Education and Employment; and, indeed, is being incorporated into the review of the national curriculum. The noble Baroness asked me specific questions about our views on that report. I should tell her that we have published our response, which I suggest she reads because it covers far more than I have time to cover this evening.
The noble Lord, Lord Addington, turned from the pressure which he has put on us previously to increase the time devoted to sport in the curriculum to say that the same thing should apply to the arts. We are under heavy pressure from all sides, but I think that a proper balance is being maintained.
A number of very valuable points were made about initial teacher training, notably by my noble friend Lady Massey who has expert knowledge in this area. She vividly described the improved teacher training in the arts compared to that which existed a number of years ago. The Teacher Training Agency is carrying out a root and branch review of the circular of requirements for courses. It is consulting extensively with teachers, trainers, colleges, LEAs, subject associations, and arts, music, dance and drama organisations on ways to ensure that the initial teacher training framework gives teachers the resources to teach the arts in schools.
Similarly, there has been some misunderstanding about what is happening in out-of-school activities. The noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, spoke as if the New Opportunities Fund is taking money away from the arts. That is doubly wrong. First, the New Opportunities Fund is additional to the original funds for the original causes and does not take money away from them at all. Secondly, it is actually putting money into, for example, supporting out-of-school-hours learning projects. Many NOF grants include projects involving arts, dance, music and media studies. These are in addition to the lottery grant made by the Arts Council for England for arts purposes. In addition, the standards fund of about £20 million will be available 1655 to include a study support element. The Government are encouraging creative partnerships between schools and other organisations by providing £2.5 million to fund innovative and inspirational out-of-hours learning projects over a two-year period from April of this year.
I turn back to the issue of partnership between artists and schools. My noble friend Lady Kennedy described that relationship as fragile. The Arts Council and the regional arts boards have published Partnerships for Learning, a guide to evaluating arts education projects, which will help them to learn from the best examples and, I hope, reduce the fragility to which she referred. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Arts Council are preparing a document to help schools to develop an arts policy and to establish partnerships during and out of school hours. I hope that that will reassure my noble friend Lady McIntosh, who referred to that point with an example from the Netherlands.
It should be recognised that there is a new national award for schools called Artsmark which is to be a benchmark of excellence for schools to aim for and a symbol of recognition when they achieve it. My noble friend Lady Massey asked about the monitoring of arts education. Artsmark is being developed by the Government with the Arts Council, the QCA and others, to recognise, promote and disseminate good practice in the arts in schools; to encourage improvements in standards and an expansion of arts education opportunities; to raise the profile of arts education nationally within schools, and arts organisations in communities; and to encourage effective partnership. This is part of our response to the All our Futures report to which I have already referred.
Without wishing to neglect others, perhaps I may turn to the particular points to which attention has been drawn. The first is dance and drama training which was referred to by my noble friend Lady Kennedy and the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, who quite properly paid tribute to our drama schools. The new dance and drama awards, which were announced jointly by the Department for Education and Employment and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in November 1998, provide access for up to 820—at the moment the figure is 830—talented students annually, regardless of their means, to pursue their chosen course of study. That is quite new and is of very great importance.
The noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, was worried about FE provision. In November 1999, the DfEE announced an increase in the hardship fund for FE dance and drama students from September of this year; FE student support will rise by 300 per cent, with scholarships of up to £3,000 available. I hope that will reassure my noble friend Lady Kennedy, who spoke about hardship among dance and drama students.
The Government are contributing up to £20 million a year to fund these new arrangements. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, expressed concern about the accreditation of 1656 dance teacher training. That is very largely provided by the private sector, but in most cases it is accredited by the Council for Dance Education and Training. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is putting these qualifications into the national qualifications framework.
Perhaps I may again pick out one area of which we are particularly proud. I refer to music education. In June 1999, the Prime Minister officially opened the National Foundation for Youth Music, an independent charity set up by DCMS Ministers and core-funded by £30 million of ACE lottery funds—I invite the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, to recognise that as being a contribution from the lottery to the arts—over a period of three years. Its aim is to improve opportunities for young people to access music-making. It will work in partnership in both formal and informal education in music sectors to attract and distribute funds to provide strategic advice and guidance and will act as the national advocate to raise the profile of the debate on music education. My understanding is that jazz is included in the definition of "music". I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, will know that the Arts Council for England funds jazz to the extent of about £1.5 million a year.
The work of the National Foundation for Youth Music is not the only thing. It is complemented by the improved provision by the Department for Education and Employment for LEA music services through its music standards fund, which is £150 million over three years. The second-round allocation was made in December of last year.
Before I leave particular art forms, perhaps I may turn to my noble friend Lady Rendell, who spoke with great knowledge about creative writing. The Arts Council for England provides £1.5 million a year for literature. My noble friend was concerned about student grants. She referred in particular to the creative writing course at the University of East Anglia. Student grants are available for that course, as for other postgraduate MA courses. I agree that that is not the most generous form of provision, but it is the responsibility of the Higher Education Funding Council and the universities concerned.
We should not leave the education side without talking about lifelong learning, to which my noble friend Lady McIntosh referred. The provisions in the Learning and Skills Bill for a single body and a unified youth support service is very much welcomed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We have some significant economic sectors under our wing in the shape of the creative industries, including the arts, film and broadcasting. We want to see these sectors fully engaged in the new learning and skills councils.
There is also the question of ongoing training in the arts. My noble friend Lady Crawley, as a patron of Métier, talked about that national training organisation which has a remit for the arts and entertainment industries. There is also, of course, Skillset with the same responsibilities for film and television. My noble friend Lady McIntosh also referred to the need for management skills in the arts. I 1657 would add the need for arts skills in management. Her references to Charles Handy and Ben Zander were appropriate in that context.
A number of noble Lords, particularly, of course, noble Lords from the Government Benches, have paid tribute to the increases in government funding of the arts. This applies particularly in respect of access to the arts. Funding agreements place a clear responsibility on arts bodies to deliver a clear return on our investment in that work. The New Audiences Fund, developed by the Arts Council for England, provides grants of about £5 million a year to pilot projects aimed at increasing access to the arts. One of the key aims of the New Audiences Fund is to encourage children to enjoy the arts both in participation and in visits. Both of those are essential elements.
The Gulbenkian Foundation report, Crossing the Line, was important in that respect. It described the psychological barriers which some children have to classical music and classical theatre. However, we have heard some excellent rebuttals of that in the debate this evening, which are welcome. We should pay tribute to the Hamlyn subsidised performances at the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House. The Hamlyn Weeks, which my noble friend Lord Hamlyn subsidises, are enormously successful. I wanted to say more about free tickets for schools but I think that that comes under the heading of the Gulbenkian report which we have welcomed. We have an independent scheme managed by the Learning Circuit, New Generation Audiences, which was launched last year by Chris Smith. There are many other relevant examples.
Many noble Lords have quite rightly paid tribute to the contribution which the arts can make to dealing with social exclusion, neighbourhood renewal, health, crime, employment and education. I make it clear to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, that we do not think that this is delivering social order, any more than we think, like Goebbels, that we should reach for our guns when we hear the word "culture". However, we believe that the arts have a great deal to contribute in what is, after all, a concern of all of us, and that they allow us to invest in individuals who might otherwise be socially excluded.
I have little time in which to deal with disability policy, but I shall answer the specific points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay. Not all regional cultural consortia have been appointed yet. We only know of one disabled person on them, but the Government are looking sympathetically at special provision for disabled people who might become members of cultural consortia. Some 29 per cent of museums have a disability policy, but 15 out of 17 DCMS-funded museums have a disability policy. It is not a formal requirement for Heritage Lottery Fund funding, but all applications must conform to the legislation against disability discrimination. Access for disabled people is being built into the quality standards that are being developed by the department because all applications must conform to the DCMS access strategy and must provide for diversity of audiences. Disabled people cannot get into the stalls at 1658 the Royal Opera House but it has received the "two ticks" award from Margaret Hodge, the Minister for the Disabled, and there are 20 to 24 wheelchair spaces in other parts of the house.
I do not want to go over the well-worn debate about free admission to museums and galleries. The fundamental point is that access is wider than has been recognised. If I may, I shall respond to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, on VAT when I respond to his debate on that subject in two weeks' time.
I apologise for exceeding the amount of time allowed, but I wanted to respond to as many as possible of the fascinating and well-informed points that have been made in this excellent debate.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall
My Lords, I have learnt a great deal from the debate. It is late and, like a good play, it needs no epilogue. I thank all noble Lords from all sides of the House who have taken part in the debate. They have contributed enormously to an important, but relatively infrequent, opportunity to vent these issues. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.