As we launch the second pilot of our arts education programme for schools, Achieve Your Greatness, we’ve been chatting to colleagues and friends about what arts education means to them. Here Miriam Sriyoheswaran, intern at the Abram Wilson Foundation, makes the case to link the arts and innovation.

The psychologist Richard Jolley has summarised nicely why arts is important for the personal development of children. According to Jolley, the arts help children to learn to think outside the box, to learn a different approach to problem solving and to use their imagination to express themselves and their ideas.

When you think about it, it seems almost dangerous to not teach children the art of arts because they are going to become the adults who solve the big issues in our societies, from tackling climate change to progressing medicine. With the arts, young people get taught that there is not always a right and wrong, that you need perseverance to create what you imagine through trial, error and tweaking. Of course Maths and Science are important, but we need to give children the space to let their imagination go wild. If we don’t teach children how to do this, how are they going to become future innovators? Fabian Oefner is a Swiss artist who summarises nicely with his art why we should not treat art and science as two separate categories. He demonstrates how important the arts are for learning to express your way of looking at the world to others.

The arts are important for communicating and understanding each other. Subjects such as English teach children how to use language, but considering the fact that non-verbal communication is said to be two-thirds of our communication shouldn’t we teach children through expressive arts how to use this way of communication with each other?

We must also consider the arts for when we look back and look ahead. Each generation communicates through the arts its history, values, ideas and what the world looked like for them. If we don’t equip children and youth with the value and skills of art, what are we going to pass on to the generations to come? What music do we want generations in the future to hear that will give them an insight into what our world today looked like? What texts, poems and lyrics can we create so they understand how we viewed the world? What movements, paintings, sculptures and so on will show them how we used our imagination?

Cutting funding for arts in school and in other areas will impact the development of our society as a whole. I doubt that we can fully foresee how it is going to impact our future and our cultures but to ignore that it will have consequences is even worse.

The Abram Wilson Foundation makes the arts accessible for children and youth who otherwise simply don’t get the chance to do so. AWF is tackling inequality and breaking down existing stereotypes to show that certain art forms are not exclusive for a specific group of people.

Giving all children from a young age the chance to experience and try different art forms can eventually lead to a shift in thinking. We need to keep the arts in schools so that the arts do not become more and more exclusive to certain groups.

As mentioned earlier, if we don’t teach children the art of art we may not leave a whole lot of our imagination, ideas and insight to our society behind for the generations to come. If the arts get cut more and more we will not only leave less behind, but also a very limited perspective on our world. Encouraging young people to try out art forms, to support them when they have discovered a talent is important to maintain the richness of our society and to pass this richness on to others. This can be done through the work of organisations such as AWF, by continuing to give arts its place in the curriculum, and also by simply encouraging creative expression. Tell a child s/he has done a great job when s/he has painted a picture! Dance along with a child when s/he intuitively moves to music! Perhaps if we all do this, we can help build up the interest in the arts and show every child that no matter what their background is, they can express themselves through the arts.


Picture source: Fabian Oefner, Dancing colors: http://fabianoefner.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Fabian_Oefner_Dancing_Colors_08_1500-1180×786.jpg