‘All Our Futures’, the government report into creative and cultural education, put forward a case for more integrated arts activities in schools. In this keynote speech we are urged to change our conceptions of ‘culture’ and ‘art’ – as the arts is often regarded as a remote and separate activity, something that exists outside the other areas of our life.
Firstly, there is confusion about the meaning of the word ‘arts’. The school curriculum defines it as ‘art and music’ (with dance as a branch of PE and drama as an offshoot of English literature). This is completely wrong. Defining the arts as subject categories is a mistake: yet arts funding agencies do this all the time. ‘Aesthetics’ (the definition of art forms) is to artists what ornithology is to birds. It doesn’t bother artists what it is they’re doing – they just get on and do it. They often don’t even know there’s a category for what they do.