Smart Thinking

Every action has a reaction, especially in the arts

There's a reason that the arts should be championed in schools, says The Jackal's Deputy Editor

London Film Festival has just finished, and at the weekend I was lucky enough to attend a screening for one of its highlights, a new horror film-cum-morality tale called Ghost Stories, which had been adapted by Andy Nyman from the play of the same name.

I’m not good with horror and my friend lured me under the false pretence that it was a documentary, but in spite of that I enjoyed it – sort of. I’ve never understood how people can find a thrill in fascinating over their deepest, darkest fears on screen, but the twist in the tale was a thought provoking departure from the genre’s usual gruesomeness.

“If we want to enjoy the arts and engage with art that makes us think, we’ve got to fund it”

I won’t spoil it, but it ceased to be a film that was just ‘entertainment,’ and became a movie which had something to say. It forced the audience to think about the impact of their actions. The killer line, delivered by Martin Freeman, was quite simply ‘every action has a reaction.’ Somehow (probably because my heart was beating at 180 beats a minute) it really hit home.

It’s a timely moment to be reminded of this too, because just last week I had an email from my former secondary school Headmaster, informing me that the expressive arts faculty is in dire straits and the PE, drama and photography A level courses are to be culled, while art classes are to be drastically reduced.

This came as a real shock. It’s a respectable state comprehensive in leafy Hertfordshire – it shouldn’t be struggling for funding. But, look up the figures and it turns out that spending per pupil in secondary schools is to fall 6.5 per cent by 2019-20, according to the IFS, so it’s no real surprise that the arts are in line to be hacked back.

Nevertheless, to hear that these courses have disappeared overnight, depriving almost 160 Sixth Formers of the opportunity to be creative is heartbreaking. If we want to enjoy the impact of the arts, and engage with art that makes us think, we’ve got fund it. Furthermore, if we want the youth of today to enjoy their educations, we have to give them a space to express themselves.

So, next time to you watch an arthouse film or head to the theatre, spare a thought for the next generation of creatives. After all, every action has a reaction.