Performing Arts for Children – preparing for future employability
Performing Arts for children often gets a bad rap – as such, it frequently loses out to subjects that are deemed key skills, and when the government decides on spending cuts, the arts and culture sector suffers in silence.
Paradoxically, there is no shortage of praise for the Performing Arts and its transformative impact on many lives. It remains an integral part of every society and culture and serves as a crucial learning aid to children.
Performing Arts – Interventions for Children
There are countless studies highlighting how children involved in Performing Arts interventions have developed peer interaction, social skills and empowerment (Daykin et al., 2008); changed behaviours and attitudes toward health; developed resistance to illegal drug use, alcohol and smoking; improved knowledge; and substantially aided overall wellbeing.
For young children at an impressionable time in their lives, involvement in Performing Arts can be crucial. The inspirational role of dance, music and drama enables creativity to flourish and promotes a positive mental attitude.
Despite all this, funding for the Arts and Culture continues to drop, and some schools have chosen to ignore this aspect of the curriculum entirely. Coupled with recent changes to the qualifications that place more emphasis on STEM subjects, schools have seen a decline in the uptake of Performing and Expressive Arts as more children choose alternative subjects.
With the creative industries contributing £90 billion each year to the UK (The Stage, 2017), the importance of Performing Arts education for children cannot be understated enough.
Performing Arts – Future Employability for Children
Leading experts have also suggested that the arts could play a momentous role in the future with soft skills – social and emotional skills – such as curiosity, leadership, persistence and resilience – with Researcher Andreas Schleicher communicating this view to the Education Select Committee when discussing the imminent fourth industrial revolution that would mark a turning point for technological advancement as math and science skills could give way to smarter, faster computers.
The World Economic Forum has also recently published The Future of Jobs Report 2018, featuring a comparison of trending and declining skills demand by 2022. Trending skills include Creativity, Originality and Initiative; Leadership and Social Influence; Emotional Intelligence; and Reasoning, problem-solving, and ideation. Whereas declining skills include Reading, Writing, Math and Active listening; Management of Financial, Material Resources; Technology use, Monitoring and Control; and Technology Installation and Maintenance.
Accordingly, Performing Arts is not only an integral facet of our education system for children of the next generations, but it is becoming increasingly important to children to learn the soft skills and maintain a balance to prepare them for future employability.
Performing Arts – First steps for Children to become Professionals
When it comes to a successful career in the arts industry, there are numerous examples of professionals who have studied unrelated subjects before changing to highly successful careers in the arts. Actors, Dancers, Singers, and even technicians and managers have been successful without having gained any meaningful education in the arts. However experience has also shown us time and again, that a focus on Performing Arts for children ensures that budding actors, singers, dancers and arts professionals have the best possible chance to succeed in a difficult industry.
The skills that children achieve in Performing Arts subjects are adaptable to every job role, including lateral thinking, social skills, emotional intelligence, confidence, creative aptitude, analytical and evaluative thinking, and empathy.
Performing Arts Education – a worthy challenge for children
Anyone who has undertaken a qualification in Performing Arts will tell you that it is no easy ride. Drama students do not simply strut across the stage to an easy pass; music students do not simply learn to play an instrument proficiently, and dancers do not just choreograph a routine. Each subject involves intensive analysis, delving into specialist histories, cultures and techniques – with the creative production of new and original material reliant on a keen interpretation and communication.
Children studying Performing Arts develop theory and practical skills, as they are required to perform and to demonstrate an understanding of performance – to identify themes and messages inherent within a performance piece and analyse the effectiveness of a piece on an audience. Children become enlightened to the point that they can watch a performance or listen to a piece of music and engage with the piece on a deeper level, touching each layer and uncovering the richness and diversity of language present.
Influencing change – Performing Arts
It is no small wonder then that Performing Arts can have a significant influence over political and social change. Even for those audiences who are not attuned to the intricacies of a performance, the messages conveyed still contain a power to change attitudes and impressions.
Shakespeare may now be associated with children studying his plays in English and Drama lessons around the world, but the famous bard has made an immeasurable contribution to the English language with many words and phrases attributable to Shakespeare’s popular plays. Our very means of communication with each other has been shaped by Performing Arts. Yet for the audiences of Shakespeare’s time, his multitude of plays reflected public opinion – providing a voice to the masses – such as the eponymous Hamlet reflecting the political uncertainty of the time with fears over who would inherit the throne – a subject that frequently re-surfaces through generations since and even holds relevance in today’s political climate.
Social and Political influence is not consigned to the history books alone either – modern day theatre has been attributed to changing opinions, including recent forays into the hunting debate, with audiences surveyed before and after a performance where an emotional response transformed empathy for the characters on stage to opinions on hunting.
Benefiting our economy through Performing Arts
Performing Arts have demonstrably boosted local economies, with one such production in Liverpool said to have generated £32 million for the local economy.
The realm of Performing Arts is varied and offers benefits to children of all ages. The opportunities provided by Theatre Schools for children to learn Performing Arts can deliver immeasurable benefits to children that will last a lifetime.
Performing Arts – Children helping Local Communities
Children involved in Performing Arts can make lasting contributions to their local communities – transforming lives through voluntary work, which in turn provides them with work experience, enrichment, and an invaluable entry on a promising résumé.
In summary, the Performing Arts sector is a comprehensively ingrained element of everyday life, a key influencer, and a vital component of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Most importantly, Performing Arts is necessary for our future, and as such we owe it to our children to provide them with opportunities to progress through Performing Arts, and ensure the continued success of our future generations.