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Spotlight: On Being A Young Cultural Leader

How arts is included in learning has the most impact on students themselves and yet for many reasons their voices aren't always heard. Nineteen year old Sam Edmunds, who is studying BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre at East 15 Acting School, makes a passionate case for the value of  arts in education and presents a challenge to other young people: get involved and lead the change

Be bold and brave and try to create a way of promoting arts in your town

The arts are vital to a student’s development. It allows them the chance to develop socially, emotionally and creatively. It bewilders me when the arts are not deemed as ‘important’, as it’s the only part of education that offers a student a chance to develop these skills which are crucial in adulthood and in any working situation. Any student coming out of education in the hope of gaining a job will struggle to do so without these skills. Creativity is what drives our economy forward and being able to socialise and network and deal with any human relationship requires experience.

Subjects such as Maths and Science are important and I understand the emphasis on them; however we cannot dictate which subjects are fit for study, the same way we can’t dictate where a student’s talent lies. We are fortunate enough to have one the best education systems in the world and therefore we should be providing student’s with the opportunity to progress in any subject they desire, not restricting them from developing their talents.

Speaking Up

If you’re fighting for them, you must work with them: young people need to feel confident that their voices are being heard.

Sadly it’s hard for young people to bring about change in their school, even when concerns are expressed. I know from experience of working in higher education that the balance of support for subjects is not spread evenly. However for young people to be heard they have to speak -  but to the right people. School Governors, for example, are in a prime position to influence the system and nurture the individual needs of all students. For a positive change to come around, young people must be listened to.

A lot of the issues around arts in education is adults fighting the battle without including young people. If you’re fighting for them, you must work with them: young people need to feel confident that their voices are being heard.

How To Get Involved

Be bold and brave and try to create a way of promoting arts in your town.

If young people want to get involved in the arts then there are ways. Find local projects and volunteer to take part, ask local theatre companies and schools if you can help in any way shape or form. I volunteered at Luton Sixth Form College after being a student, as I wanted as much experience in teaching as I could get, whilst helping students with work I had already done. I also saw it as a way to help students with coursework and exams that I already had experience with. I’ve taken part in numerous local projects, for example: working with Young Producers to promote local talent and working with Next Generation Youth Theatre to provide opportunities to children who either can’t afford to receive them or simply won’t be able to receive them at school.

I know projects won’t always be happening everywhere but if not then make one yourself. Be bold and brave and try to create a way of promoting arts in your town. Speak to the council, speak to schools, speak to anyone you know who is arts based and lead a project. I use the word 'project' as an umbrella term- this can be an event which you host, an online forum you create or a company you start with friends. Social media has become such a big asset for the arts, allowing networking to become so easy, so contact anyone you can find and join in on events that are trending with the arts.

The arts community is enormous and as a community we must work together to give young people the chance to get involved and be heard.

Written by Sam Edmunds

More In The Spotlight

The Royal Opera House Bridge Spotlight is a selection of stories, profiles and provocations from inspiring leaders in cultural learning across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and North Kent. Explore more…

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