Children’s education in the arts is in a “terrible state” thanks to an obsession with exams and league tables, the award-winning novelist Philip Pullman has said. The author of the His Dark Materials trilogy urged the government to make theatre visits for schools “a firmly established part of the curriculum”, saying he was concerned about falling numbers of children being taken to plays and concerts.
• Arts and culture is worth £7.7bn in gross value added to the British economy – an increase of 35.8% between 2010 and 2013. • For every pound invested in arts and culture, an additional £1.06 is generated in the economy. • More than one in 12 UK jobs are in the creative economy, with employment increasing 5% between 2013 and 2014, compared with a 2.1% jobs increase in the wider economy. • Britain invests a smaller percentage, 0.3%, of its total GDP on arts and culture than other countries. Germany is 0.4%, the EU as a whole 0.5%, Denmark 0.7% and France 0.8%.
Of all the ways to learn a musical instrument, Arn Chorn-Pond’s experience is one of the more unusual. When the ultra-communist Khmer Rouge regime seized Cambodia in 1975, he was spared the murder that befell 80-90% of the country’s artists and musicians, including his parents, who ran an opera group. Instead, the cadres running his labour camp forced him to learn the flute to play propaganda songs that the regime would blast from speakers to dull the screams of victims as they were tortured and killed.