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‘Deprived of Opportunities’: Artists Decry British Arts Education System in Open Letter

The British Department for Education.

COURTESY DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION

In an open letter published this week by the Guardian, more than 100 artists based in the United Kingdom spoke out against the new English baccalaureate, a government-mandated set of courses—including science, math, foreign languages, and history—that now excludes the arts. Critics of the new baccalaureate, which is called Ebacc for short, have expressed concerns about the way it will restrict British students, and the letter’s signees echoed such unease.

“There is compelling evidence that the study of creative subjects is in decline in state schools and that entries to arts and creative subjects have fallen to their lowest level in a decade,” the letter reads. “Young people are being deprived of opportunities for personal development in the fields of self-expression, sociability, imagination, and creativity.” The artists go on to call for a reversal of the new Ebacc, noting that the arts should be open to all students, “not just a privileged few.”

Among the signees are 15 artists who have taken home the Turner Prize, including last year’s winner, Lubaina Himid, as well as John Akomfrah, Wolfgang Tillmans, Isaac Julien, Anish Kapoor, Tracey Emin, Amalia Pica, Yinka Shonibare, and others.

The artists’ full letter can be found on the Guardian’s website.

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