Bath Spa University receives funding to develop creative writing in local schools

cursive handwriting

Arts Council England is set to award Bath Spa University with £600,000 in funding to develop creative writing education in schools across the South West of England.

The grant is from the Creative Writing in Schools fund, and will support a three-year project called The Creative Writing Education Hub.

This project will be led by the university in partnership with Bath Festivals and the National Association of Writers in Education. The project aims to link nationally recognised writers with hundreds of schools in the region.

Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University

As part of the project, children aged eight to 14 will be given workshops by professional writers, thereby helping them to write and expand their imagination.

Alongside the programme, a series of workshops for teachers and writers will run concurrently to the schools programme, thereby helping to try and develop new approaches to teaching creative writing.

Participating schools will receive support to achieve an ‘Artsmark Award’, and pupils will receive help to achieve an ‘Arts Award’.

Phil Gibby, South West area director for Arts Council England, said: “We believe that every child and young person should have the opportunity to experience the richness of arts and culture and this funding will give more young people the chance to engage in and enjoy producing and showcasing their own creative writing.

“The consortium boasts some of the South West’s expert educators, researchers and writers whose joint leadership will make for a strong and unique programme of work.”

Bambo Soyinka, creative director of the project, said: “Creative writing should be part of every child’s education as it develops imaginative thought, language and literary skills.

“The Creative Writing Education Hub will introduce school pupils from varied social and cultural backgrounds to the joys of creative writing and will enable young people to learn alongside professional writers.

“Over the next three years we will be researching and testing best practice models for creative writing education.

“We will share our findings through innovative events, workshops and digital platforms, to guide and inspire teachers, pupils and creative writing tutors.”

Bath Spa University is one of two lead applicants awarded a grant from the Creative Writing in Schools fund.

The other successful applicant, First Story, will use a grant of £600,000 to bring professional writers into secondary schools serving low income communities.

This fund targets the North and the South West because these are areas outside London where creative writing opportunities for children and young people could be improved.

Analysis

Professor Wu says: “Projects like this are absolutely crucial in a society increasingly devoid of imagination – and a stunted ability to think outside the box. Evidence suggests that creative writing – and, indeed, creativity and art in all its myriad forms – can improve a child’s enjoyment and attainment in English language and literature.”

“What is more, by encouraging children to think creatively, we encourage them to look at the world in new and interesting ways, which is critical for human society as a whole. Just think of those wise words of Albert Einstein: Logic will take you from A to B, but imagination will take you anywhere.”

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Jeremy Corbyn passionately backs the arts and creative industries

Man of the moment Jeremy Corbyn has written a passionate article in The State of the Arts, arguing what we here at Nothing In The Rulebook have always known: that there is creativity in all of us and, as such, government should be supporting the arts with funding – rather than slashing art council budgets left right and centre.

In an attack on the increasing inequality of opportunities within the arts and creative industries, the Labour Leadership frontrunner argued that “every child deserves the chance to learn a musical instrument, act on stage, and develop their creative imagination.” He also pointed out that “the arts and creative industries are the backbone of much of our cultural heritage” and, as such, would be protected and defended under a Corbyn-led opposition Labour party (and, of course, under any future Corbyn-led government).

“It is my firm belief that the role of government must be to work alongside arts communities and entrepreneurs in widening access to the arts, and for this broader engagement to stimulate creative expression, as well as support us in achieving our social objectives,” Mister Corbyn wrote.

Corbyn argued that the Government was using the guise of a misguided – and economically illiterate – austerity programme to make savage, ideologically driven cuts to the UK artistic industries – and was following on from the moves of Thatcher in the 1980s, which, Mister Corbyn noted, “sought to disempower the arts community, [in an attempt] to silence the provocative in favour of the populist.”

In a rousing call to arms, Corbyn wrote: “Beyond the obvious economic and social benefits of the arts is the significant contribution to our communities, education, and democratic process they make. Studies have demonstrated the beneficial impact of drama studied at schools on the capacity of teenagers to communicate, learn, and to tolerate each other, as well as on the likelihood that they will vote. The greater involvement of young people in the political process is something to be encouraged and celebrated.”

“Further, the contribution and critique of our society and democracy which [the arts have] the capacity to offer must be protected. To quote David Lan, “dissent is necessary to democracy, and democratic governments should have an interest in preserving sites in which that dissent can be expressed,” The Labour Leadership frontrunner said.

Analysis

“While it is as yet unclear what Jeremy Corbyn would personally make of Nothing In The Rulebook, both myself and my esteemed accomplice, Billy the Echidna, believe he would be firmly in favour of our project, and would like to take this opportunity to invite him to contribute to our site any time – alternatively, he can always pop by and say hello at our residences at London Zoo or the Natural History Museum,” Professor Wu says.

“Jeremy Corbyn has worked with and for the arts sector throughout his time in parliament, and his most recent article demonstrates why he is winning the hearts and minds of people throughout the country, and across the political spectrum,” Professor Wu adds. “For too long, funding of the creative industries have been slashed, and creative individuals from poorer or less fortunate backgrounds have been denied the opportunities to express themselves that they deserve. We can’t all be Benedict Cumberbatch, you know.”

Billy the Echidna agrees: “The devastating £82 million in cuts to the arts council budget over the last five years is repealing creativity and increasing callous commercialism, as priceless community programmes, art galleries, operas and other artistic and creative organisations are targeted by a neoliberal ideology that places value on currency, rather than human beings.”

“It is heartening to see the levels of support Mister Corbyn is currently experiencing, as the government needs MPs like him who are able to offer an alternative programme for the arts – which supports their ability to enrich the cultural lives of hundreds of thousands of people, while also promoting a feeling of community ownership and spirit, from which we all benefit,” Billy adds.

Both Billy and Professor Wu noted that the Government cuts to arts funding seemed driven by a vehement, ideological drive to attack the artistic industries, which appear to frighten conservative minds, due to their propensity to foster original thought and promote ideals at odds with neoliberal ideology.

“Faced with the challenges ahead, we both firmly support Mister Corbyn,” they said. “To use a popular social media hashtag, let’s just say, in Jez we can!”