kulturelle Bildung

20.5.2011 | Von:
Joe Hallgarten

Länderbeispiel England: Vom Goldenen Zeitalter in die Misere

Ongoing Challenges

Despite this growth in provision, four significant barriers remained to achieving the vision of all children and young people participating in high quality cultural opportunities.

First, many schools, forced to focus on high-stakes testing in literacy and numeracy, "narrowed and shallowed" their curriculum, marginalising the arts. According to our Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the amount of time spent by pupils on arts subjects declined during the last decade.

Second, an increase in the quantity of opportunities available to schools and young people did not lead to a proportionate improvement in quality. Despite a growing knowledge base about quality, many activities, provided by both small and large institutions, emerging artists and experiences arts educators, still often lacked sufficient planning, depth and reflection, leading to superficial or even negative outcomes for young people [17].

Third, the "offer" to young people and schools became more fragmented than ever. It was increasingly difficult for schools and young people to understand what was available and how they could access it. Given that surveys show that young people who are already culturally active also tend to have the greatest demand for additional activities, it is little surprise that, in a confusing ecology, new cultural opportunities tended to be snapped up by the already-engaged, and rejected by the reluctant [18].

Finally, surveys have also shown that the greatest predictor of a child´s cultural engagement is their levels of academic qualifications and existing cultural engagement [19]. With some significant exceptions, insufficient attention was paid to engaging families in cultural activities, especially families who were not yet culturally aware or engaged.

In 2008 a new programme, Find Your Talent, was established specifically to explore how best to overcome these challenges at a local level, aiming for increased participation, better targeting, quality and co-ordination and, above all, transformed outcomes for children and young people [20]. The programme also embraced the reality that young people growing up today expect to have far more control over the shape their cultural experiences, including an increased desire to participate in cultural production.

The current situation

In 2010 a new government was elected in the UK. Since then, we have already witnessed significant changes to the landscape described above. Misinformed by a misguided analysis of England´s PISA performance, this government´s approach to education has attempted to refocus on "the basics" of literacy and numeracy, and reinforce an existing hierarchy of supposedly "academic" subjects. Although (in contrast to their hostility to "creativity") our Department for Education has expressed its commitment to the arts, schools are already cutting back on arts provision (and being far more careful about their participation in any kind of "creativity" agenda).

We are also in a very different funding climate, with cuts across all public services. In the arts, organisations have received an average cut of 15%, which is likely to impact on their education programmes. Although one of the five goals for Arts Council England is that "every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts", the axing of funding to programmes such as Creative Partnerships and Find Your Talent may leave many young people in the most disadvantaged communities without access to the arts. A "perfect storm" of financial and ideological changes means that much of the progress made over the past decade is under threat.

All may not be lost. A new Cultural Learning Alliance is attempting to mobilise a united campaign across all artforms and both education and cultural sectors [21]. Government has recently announced a cultural education review, based on a belief that all children, regardless of background, should have a solid cultural education [22]. And, regardless of policy, we now have a large cohort of highly skilled artists and teachers, committed to sustaining and refreshing their practice with young people, and passionate about how culture can enrich, change and transform young lives.

During the coming decade, cultural learning in England could still become an engine of social mobility and profound change in the nature of those who enjoy and work in the arts, or a key factor in the entrenchment of existing inequalities in both education and culture. There is all to play for.


Bamford, A. (2006) The Wow Factor. Münster: Waxmann
Ipsos MORI (2009) Evaluation of the Find Your Talent Programme: Baseline quantitative findings from ten Find Your Talent pathfinder programmes Available at http://www.creativitycultureeducation.org/data/files/ipsos-find-your-talent-report-final-235.pdf
Ipsos MORI (2009) Evaluation of the Find Your Talent Programme: Baseline quantitative findings from ten Find Your Talent pathfinder programmes Available at http://www.creativitycultureeducation.org/
See www.findyourtalent.org
See www.culturallearningalliance.org.uk
See http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/8041.aspx
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