Needed: Arts to disrupt rigid schooling

Culture industries contribute around 5% of GDP and employ more than 10,000 persons… it becomes clear that art isn’t an extra but an integral part of the education system

There is an important correlation between arts and education. An arts education is not just about teaching arts, it also provides opportunities for those children that learn differently and helps build the creative skills among those children who are at risk of dropping out of conventional schooling. This past week my ministry has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Malta Arts Council to further strengthen the ties between art and education.

The funding programme Kreattiv aims to bring creative practitioners – visual artists, writers, poets, musicians – into schools to work with teachers and students to inspire, learn and create in a collaborative and innovative way. Our students will once again have the opportunity at school to engage with creativity and the arts as Arts Council Malta has just launched a fresh call for applications for Kreattiv.

In the three years since the inception of Kreattiv, there have been 54 completed projects – an average of 18 activities per year – with a seven months’ duration. Around 5,400 students have participated from 50 schools. Over 600 staff members have contributed and student audiences have exceeded the 8,000 mark. A total of 94 artists have also participated in the various projects.

A sum of €75,000 has been allocated to this year’s programme, which is managed by the Arts Council Malta, in collaboration with the Culture Directorate. A maximum of €5,000 will be awarded to every selected proposal, which amount is to be used over a 12-month period. The fund is competitive and eligible projects will be evaluated by an independent board appointed by Arts Council Malta.

Few would argue that creativity is essential for growth. But, increasingly, the arts are also becoming viable employment options. The figures speak for themselves. According to the Creative Economy Strategy Report 2014, the Culture and Creative Industries directly contribute around five per cent of GDP and employ more than 10,000 persons. More and more – it becomes clear that art isn’t an extra but an integral part of the education system.

The programme is not about one-off arts projects, however. It’s about getting children to participate in creative activities, changing their mindset, providing a space which is not result-driven. Art helps children to make sense of the world, it encourages questioning and debate, comment and thinking. Most of these will stay with children throughout their lives, ensuring that when the project is over, a creative legacy will remain.

The purpose of the agreement is to clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of each party in relation to the implementation of the Framework for the Strategy for Education in Malta 2014-2024, and the Mission Statement of the Arts Council Malta.

Together, the Ministry for Education and Employment and the Arts Council Malta will jointly or collaboratively engage in a number of activities, including workshops and training seminars, conferences, seminars, presentations, EU-funded projects, job exposure opportunities for the students, curriculum development, learning and assessment outcomes frameworks, and teacher training and development.

An arts education provides added value to civil society. It helps bring in new jobs and opportunities. The Kreattiv programme is part of our overall commitment to teaching and diversity and we support and encourage such initiatives.