Creative Partnerships

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 26 March 2001.

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Photo of Ben Chapman Ben Chapman Labour, Wirral South 2:30, 26 March 2001

When he expects the planned creative partnerships to commence.

Photo of Mr Alan Howarth Mr Alan Howarth Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts)

Last month, we were delighted to announce the 16 areas in which we hope creative partnerships pilots will be developed. The Arts Council of England, which is delivering the initiative, will be consulting schools and creative organisations in each location over the next few months to establish which bodies will be involved. Details on how schools and cultural organisations can take part in creative partnerships will be available from the Arts Council from early May. Funding for the initiative will come on stream in April 2002.

Photo of Ben Chapman Ben Chapman Labour, Wirral South

I am delighted that one of those partnerships will be in the Wirral. Does the Minister agree with me that creative partnerships have a role in trying to restore instrumental music teaching in our schools, which was pretty well decimated when the Conservative party was in power?

Photo of Mr Alan Howarth Mr Alan Howarth Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts)

My hon. Friend is right. Instrumental music teaching was rapidly disappearing, as local education authorities found it more and more difficult to support peripatetic music services. School budgets also came under increasing pressure. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Employment and for Culture, Media and Sport mounted an emergency rescue operation. They introduced the music standards fund, which is worth £180 million, and the National Foundation for Youth Music, worth £30 million; and now, with creative partnerships and a budget of £40 million--which will be available to support instrumental music teaching if that is what creative partnerships want--the prospects are transformed.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman Conservative, Chipping Barnet

Does the Minister accept that if the creative arts are to be encouraged, it is essential that they be encouraged in schools, which his partnership initiative will do? That brings to mind--as did an earlier question relating to sports--the role of the arts in the national curriculum. Many people feel that, because the curriculum is so rigorous, the arts are not being given the prominence that they deserve: they tend to be excluded. Will the Minister look into the matter carefully, along with the schools themselves?

Photo of Mr Alan Howarth Mr Alan Howarth Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts)

I agree. Over the years, the curriculum and teaching methods may not have given enough emphasis to encouraging children's imaginative and creative abilities. Notwithstanding the proper emphasis that my right hon. Friends have insisted should be placed on the teaching of numeracy and literacy, it is important for those additional elements of a balanced curriculum to be introduced.