In the last days of August 2020, two significant and coincidentally related events occurred regarding the role of arts in nurturing young minds.
On 21 August, we lost one of the most influential thinkers on this topic with the death of the Sir Ken Robinson, British author, speaker and adviser on creative and cultural education. Sir Ken delivered TED’s most popular talk to date; provocatively titled Do Schools Kill Creativity? it’s had more than 67 million views since 2006.
The other impactful event was on 26 August when the Australia Council for the Arts released the results of a major research project, Creating the Future, which tracks attitudes to the arts and their role in our lives.
The two are connected through their messages about the urgent need to shift our thinking about how and why we value the arts. Sir Ken sought to upend what he saw as an antiquated education system, based on industrialisation’s need for academic and vocational skills, but which ignores humanity’s need for creative, brilliant people to be encouraged and valued.
The Australia Council reported that nearly every Australian – 98 per cent – engages with the arts in some way, whether through listening to music, reading, engaging online, attending events or engaging with the arts of their cultural background. The Australia Council concludes that the arts are embedded in the very fabric of Australian lives – they’re not some add-on for the fortunate few.