Indian-origin artist drives new school initiative in UK
The concept revolves around bringing celebrated and grassroots artists into schools in deprived areas to work with students and offer them a chance to develop practical artistic skills, gain an insight into what a career in the arts may look like, as well as help raise the status and value of the creative arts in education.Updated: Jan 15, 2020 17:02 IST
An Indian-origin singer-songwriter is helping to drive forward an innovative programme by bringing celebrated artists into school classrooms across the UK this year after following a successful pilot of the scheme in London.
Pallab Sarker, chairman of the Artists in Residence (AiR) charity set up by London art teacher and winner of the 2018 Global Teacher Prize Andria Zafirakou, says the scheme is all set to expand across the UK with demand for over 80 artist residencies in cities such as Newcastle, Manchester and Poole and eventually in other cities in Wales and Scotland.
The concept revolves around bringing celebrated and grassroots artists into schools in deprived areas to work with students and offer them a chance to develop practical artistic skills, gain an insight into what a career in the arts may look like, as well as help raise the status and value of the creative arts in education.
“Subjects such as art, music, and drama are being squeezed out the curriculum at a time when they have never been more important,” says Sarker.
“They’re not only essential for personal growth and self-understanding but they also teach young people to think creatively, learn to communicate effectively and build resilience. All these skills will be important for the jobs that they are likely to do when they leave school,” he notes.
Zafirakou used funds from the USD 1-million she received for winning the Global Teacher Prize two years ago to set up and manage the Artists in Residence programme. The community of artists and organisations is convened through an online platform, with schools applying to be matched with an artist or organisation, depending on their need and capacity.
“We’re very excited about the future as we look forward to working with artists and schools up and down the country that are looking to enrich their arts curriculum,” she said.
As part of the programme, Sarker himself has overseen music production workshops with school children, with others such as Shakespeare director Michael Attenborough sharing his knowledge of ‘Macbeth’ with pupils and author and comic book illustrator Andrew Hammond joining students for comic book writing and illustration sessions.
Artists in Residence claims to have so far successfully partnered 47 artists with schools with residencies covering fashion, mosaic, jewellery, craft, dance, music, theatre, fine art, screen printing, illustration, animation and photography, impacting the lives of around 2,000 students and 90 teachers.