The UK government under Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson has halted plans for an ‘arts bonus’ funding package for secondary schools, breaking a pledge he made in the party’s 2019 election manifesto.
The bonus could have been around £270m in funding, according to the website Professional Arts. But there was no mention of the policy in the fall budget announced last week by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. art newspaper Realize that there are no current plans to introduce the Distinguished Arts Initiative.
Caroline Norbury, chief executive of the Confederation of Creative Industries, an advocacy organization, says it is “very disappointing” that the government is not living up to the commitment to the arts’ distinguished electoral manifesto.
“Creative skills, ideas and industries have been highlighted as priorities in the Government’s own plan for growth and it is essential to also recognize the strategic importance of education in creativity, arts and design. Failure to do so will not only affect the UK’s ability to innovate and grow, but also limit opportunities for a variety of Talents,” she adds, stressing that she will write to the Minister of Education, Nazim Al-Zahawi, to express her organization’s concerns.
Conservatives campaigned in the 2019 general election on a series of educational pledges, saying: “We will invest in arts, music and sports. Over the past nine years, we’ve made real improvements in math, English and science, and given more children access to a rich academic curriculum. We maintain our commitment to core subjects and we also want young people to learn creative skills and broaden their horizons, so we will offer an “artistic bonus” to secondary schools to fund enriching activities for all students.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education, however, says it is investing around £115 million a year in cultural education over the next three years, through projects such as the Music Education Centers and the Music and Dance Scheme. The department will also publish an updated National Music Education Plan in collaboration with the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports in early 2022.
“We are also providing schools with a cash boost of £1,500 per pupil by 2024/25 compared to 2019/20, as well as nearly £5 billion to recover education, ensuring that schools are able to deliver ambitious curricula and enrichment activities, including That’s the arts,” the speaker adds.