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Sean Holmes: ‘Theatres’ work with young people should not replace drama in schools’

Sean Holmes. Photo: Helen Maybanks
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Artistic director of London’s Lyric Hammersmith Sean Holmes has condemned “worrying” cuts to the arts in education, arguing that theatres’ work with young people should not become a substitute for drama in schools.

The comments were made at the launch of Holmes’ final season as artistic director of the venue, which he is leaving after nine years in the role.

Holmes told The Stage: “Obviously its worrying. I’ve got three children in education and I’m lucky that in my kids’ primary school, art, theatre and music are at the heart of that school, but you see as they go into secondary school that, through choices of government, their access to the arts is diminished.”

He added: “It’s worrying because it’s great what we do [with young people at the Lyric], but it shouldn’t be ‘instead of’ school, it should supplement it.”

Holmes said the decline of the arts in schools risks reducing the diversity of the theatre workforce and the type of work that is made.

He added: “Obviously it’s much easier to have the confidence to direct a play if you go to a private school with its own fully equipped theatre, than if you go to a school where the idea of even going to the theatre is alien.

“People will always make work, but you want to have the most well-rounded and exciting education you can.”

The comments come as Prince Charles and leading industry figures including Benedict Cumberbatch and Meera Syal release a statement advocating the importance of the arts in schools.

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