Cuts to arts in schools ‘a disaster,’ says Steve McQueen

Oscar-winning film director Steve McQueen says he intends to “shout and scream” about cuts to arts funding in schools, and has launched a scathing attack on grammar schools and streaming which he says are ‘a nightmare’ and ‘a nonsense.’

Speaking exclusively to TesMr McQueen said he himself was streamed into a low set “for manual labour” when at secondary school in West London, partly because of his undiagnosed dyslexia and poor vision in one eye.

He says his ultimate success was down to him being “just so hard-headed” but also having the ability to draw and being “very lucky to grow up in a time when art was very important.”

“It’s about possibilities – not about following something A, B and C – but it’s about saying ‘what if?’ and having a base in a creative practice.”

“We have so many great artists and great thinkers and inventors in this country and it’s come through the idea of a sense of possibility and arts education gives you that sense of possibility.”

“The two leading people in contemporary arts today – Damian Hirst and [the late] Alexander McQueen – who have made hundreds of millions of pounds for this country are both white working class who would never have got a foot in the door if it wasn’t for arts education.”

He added: “Cutting arts education is a disaster and streaming is a disaster. You can’t separate kids and say he’s better than her at a certain point because everyone is evolving. It’s a nonsense.

“You’re judging a kid at eleven years old from what they could do then, not what they could do tomorrow or how he or she is going to develop. It’s a nightmare, and what you do for the kids who have not been chosen into grammar schools is you make them feel less than.”

Read the full article Cuts to arts in schools ‘a disaster,’ says Steve McQueen

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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