Una Rose – Author

Putting the world to write!

How To Draw the Future?

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My daughter wants to be an artist or a singer…or maybe both! At 13 she hasn’t quite made up her mind, and is fairly talented in the arts all round. You can see her artwork here and her teachers have all spotted her talents, alas the government has different ideas for her.

Hers is the first year of the new scheme devised by former education secretary Michael Gove; what I call the “Gove-GCSEs” which are measured on a scale of 1-9 which equates to an A** if you get a 9. It also means to pass GCSE Maths you now need a B or above. She is predicted to get A* at least in both French and Spanish, Art and Music, and until last year she could have taken all four of these as her options. But not now, thanks to Gove and his goons, all students must study triple science. She must take one language and has only two other free choices. “Music and Art then!” she declared to her careers teacher, reiterating her plan to be a singer/artist, and anything but a scientist. The careers person was having none of it:. “Those are jobs that will not be well paid. You ought to think of a proper career.” In a group session later, it was revealed most of her peers at the grammar school are aiming at becoming a vet, doctor, lawyer, etc, and that to get on in life it was agreed you need good qualifications, class and money.

If I’d have been leading that discussion, I might have steered them to think outside the box. Why not use your intelligence to work for an NGO helping to eradicate small pox from the Third World? What is so wrong with following your dream if you are talented in the arts, as we all love going to the theatre and cinema? What is Britain most respected for around the world….our creative industry, girls! Alas not many seem to view the world as I do it seems. My daughter neither, who tells me what the world now lacks is not money or technology, but compassion. She has bags of this, as well as great talent in her languages and am disappointed that she must drop her French, the world diplomatic language no less, to follow a more “rigorous curriculum” in the words of the now Tory Chief Whip, Mr Gove. Cracking his whip has taken on a whole new meaning!

Thankfully voices are being heard above the parapet on this issue. “Drawing has creative, expressive and educational value; it remains fundamental to translating and analysing the world”, writes Anita Taylor, the Director of the Jerwood Drawing Prize and Dean of Bath School of Art and Design in today’s Guardian. She is calling not so much for a STEM curriculum but a STEAM one that includes art. “Alongside a need for drawing skills in the creative sectors – animation, architecture, design, fashion, film, theatre, performance and the communication industries – drawing is also widely used within a range of other professions as a means to develop, document, explore, explain, interrogate and plan. This includes the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine and sport.”

Still, the schools may have a point about the arts. We all love them, but no one is willing to pay for them, not the government (we’re all about cutting the deficit, darling!), nor benefactors as in the States, nor the customer who seem more loathe than ever to pay more than £8 for a novel that will have taken an author years to craft. In fact, new data out today shows that a typical full-time writer earned £11,000 a year in 2013, and only the top 5% best selling authors earned at least £100,100. In fact, one in six writers did not earn any money from their writing in 2013 – despite 98% saying their work had been published or used in other ways.

Compare this to other data that shows if you are a CEO of a big firm you are most likely to be earning 130 times than the average pay of your employees. The earnings gap has never been so out of sync with common decency. Ironically, the highest pay ratio in the FTSE 100 biggest companies was for the CEO of Britain’s biggest advertising agency, Martin Sorrell at WPP, who earns nearly 800 times what his average creative employee does.

I don’t put much emphasis on what my daughter wants to do at this age, and am glad she even has a dream and ambition. Life’s hurdles may prevent her but better she follows her talent and will enjoy what she does, than force her now into a career she may come to loathe, despite the trappings it can offer. At her age I wanted to be a journalist and foreign correspondent. I achieved that goal and more. Okay I don’t own a fancy car, live in West London and go on two ski trips a year, but I am satisfied with my life and I love being a writer. I think my 13 year old self would bepretty impressed!


One comment on “How To Draw the Future?

  1. Colin Taylor
    April 21, 2015

    Brilliant Una. Arts are an essential part of society. What did early people do in their caves. They drew pictures on the walls! Our ancestors knew a thing or two. Gove and co kindly take note.

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