Encouraging our emerging artists, by professional artist Alison C. Board

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a local school if I would be willing to chat to their pre-GCSE students on the potential of a creative career. I asked if this was to elaborate on the avenues that were possible such as artist, designer, illustrator etc. and the answer I received shocked me.

‘No, we want to encourage them that a creative career is an actual career path’

A little confused, I began to realise that the teachers of incredible skills such as art, music, dance and drama weren’t necessarily battling with cuts in budget or class numbers or the allocation of time (although these are also daily conflicts), they were struggling to convince students that the arts were feasible as a profession, not just a distraction or a subject that didn’t carry value.

I’m going to let you have a little time for that unpleasant realisation to sink in because I’m guessing that the fact you are here reading this blog means you have an interest in introducing a child to the wonders of creativity?

Just in case you needed convincing further of the importance of the arts to any age but more particularly to children, let me present it in facts:

• A new report by Arts Council England has shown that arts and culture now contribute more to the UK economy that agriculture. The figure stands at approximately £10.8bn, a growth of more than £390m since 2016. (The Guardian, April 2019)
• Everything around us is embedded in design, our clothes, furnishings, technology, homes, cities and the economy linked to these elements cannot function without creative and collaborative thinking.
• In 2018, the organisation What Works Wellbeing reviewed evidence of the link between visual arts and wellbeing in adults with mental health conditions and discovered:
1. Reduced reported levels of depression and anxiety
2. An increase in self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem
3. Encouragement and stimulation to re-engage with the wider, everyday social world
4. Potential re-negotiation of identity through practice-based forms of making or doing (What Works Wellbeing, January 2018)

There are so many aspects of the arts that I could use as evidence for it enriching the lives of us all, but possibly the most critical stage for consideration is to encourage children that the arts should be part of their lives and that yes, their dreams of becoming an artist are very possible indeed.

For more information on Ali Board and her professional services, please visit: https://www.alisoncboard-fineart.co.uk/

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