I went to a meeting yesterday of the Bacc for the Future campaign, a coalition of arts organisations who have come together to try to influence the Government about the damage the English Baccalaureate is doing to arts subjects in schools. I have campaigned about this in the past and can confirm how serious an issue it is, it is already seriously affecting take up of Drama in schools and the amount of Drama teachers leaving the profession. Needless to say this will seriously affect our audiences and artists for years to come. There is a particular impact on diversity because often schools are the only place where inner city young people get any kind of contact with the arts. As it happens every school i have visited recently for Tamasha has said how badly EBacc is affecting the stature of Drama within the school.
EBacc has been around for a while as an optional measure for schools but the campaign has taken on a new momentum because the Government has launched a consultation to make it compulsory in all schools, with a deadline of 29 Jan. If this is allowed to pass unchecked it is potentially devastating for the arts in schools and will be very hard to unpick.
Tamasha is already a public signatory as a supporter of the campaign but I intend to step up our involvement so you will be hearing a lot more from me about this in the coming months. This is the new In Battalions, people! But in a way it is worse than cuts to the Arts Council because it is so insidious, so under the radar and so poorly understood.
I've been surprised how few theatres and theatremakers have even heard about this campaign never mind signed up to support it. If you haven't already done so, please sign the petition. It also signs you up to updates from the campaign which will contain suggestions for other actions you can take.
There is going to be a dramatic escalation of activity in the new year, including open letters to newspapers, a major MP lobbying campaign and various ongoing meetings and publicity stunts. The more of us are signed up and advocate for it within our networks, the more effective this will be.
I frankly would not have become a playwright, never mind an artistic director, if it wasn't for the fantastic Drama provision in my state school - and I am sure the same can be said for many of you.
Play your part, people. This is serious.
More soon.... but in the meantime, sign that petition: www.baccforthefuture.com