Thursday, 31 October 2013

Gove and IDS vow to destroy the Expressive and Performing Arts. Stop Them.

Under this Coalition Government it does not do to be: Poor, Disabled, Unemployed, Living in Social Housing, Working Poor, Single Parent, Sick, Female... The list goes on. But now add to that - Any child who aspires to become an actor, singer, sculptor, textile designer, dancer, ceramic artist. Likewise any current actor earning less than 11k per year. For Gove and Duncan-Smith see the performing and expressive arts as "soft options" and not worthy of being studied or pursued as a career.

Living in N Wales, where a Labour Welsh Assembly valiantly tries to deflect the excesses of the coalition in Westminster, the mass exodus of Drama teachers from England is already being felt. Indeed in my sons school, the new Drama teacher previously taught in Chester, but had to look for a new teaching post in Wales as schools are axing Drama from the curriculum under Gove's guidance. Many more are following. Gove lives in the world of the 1950's Grammar School where a narrow curriculum is deemed to be the new Yellow Brick Road. This week in The Sunday Times there has been discussion on removing Drama, PE, and Media Studies from the list of GCSES and reducing these subjects to either lesser qualifications or as an extra curricular activity.

Imagine for one moment children being deprived the chance to be the next BAFTA award winning actor? A world where children have no opportunity to explore the world of dance? No school plays - where children learn teamwork, negotiation skills, costume design, painting and set design. Will Simon Cowells banal exploitative X factor shows be the only chance a child has of showing their singing skills? And God forbid fast forward 10-20 years when we have no festivals that shine the light on the talent of perhaps the next poet of the likes of Seamus Heaney, or we have the opportunity of not being able to purchase amazing creative textiles.

On our streets will be either the academically gifted accountants, solicitors and children of bankers or dead eyed factory workers locked into zero hours agency employed contracts. No multi diverse jugglers, street performers, dancers, actors, sculptors-  all denied the chance to study Drama/Expressive Arts in school. Does Gove truly want a society where we have no performing arts.. No culture? Oliver Cromwell was the last man to try this and failed miserably. A world with no colour, a world made up of automaton workers. Is this the Tory idyll? Bankers in suits? We need to put a stop to this now before it is too late,

Iain Duncan-Smith has stealthily decided to support Gove through another route. In April 2014 all low paid actors, singers, musicians will be automatically deemed as being Self Employed. This is to ensure that under Universal Credit they will be deemed as earning the minimum income floor of 11k per year. In reality many actors, singers and musicians earn far less and have periods of unemployment. But under contributory based JSA, they may not have enough contributions to then claim JSA while they are unemployed. Also Job Centres have the right to then give part time actors etc 6 months to get more work or be taken off tax credits and forced to seek paid employment in another type of job if they do not earn the minimum income floor of 11k per year.

There have been many struggling actors, down to their last pennies who then get a break that sees them land a good acting role which has led on to better things. Are we to be denied the joy of seeing that actor develop.. That great role never to be accomplished?

And what of that child who has a special flair for the expressive arts. More poignantly for me, what of that disabled child who has found their niche? My 14 year old autistic son took Drama GCSE this year, (2 years early Mr Gove) and gained a Grade A GCSE. Also at Drama school a London College of Music Distinction in Acting. No fluke. He worked damned hard. I saw the GCSE work Mr Gove and it was no soft option at all. Whether my child is disabled or not, I will never let you take that achievement from him, in the name of academia. He is a huge fan of Brian Blessed - an actor steeped in both TV and theatre. Someone in the future we may not have if the Coalition pursue this destruction of the Expressive Arts.

And what gives this unelected, unwanted unmandated Government the right to take away our future talent, our colour, the very people who make life worth living? I do not want an Oliver Cromwell Puritan style UK where children are sent to a life of work that involves a narrow curriculum of study. And how will you spend your evenings Mr Gove? No theatres as there are no actors. Watching Tory political party broadcasts on TV a la Orwell's 1984 may not be your cup of tea either.