Prince Charles has joined industry figures including Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Lloyd Webber in calling for every child in the UK to have access to the arts at school.
The call comes amid increasing cuts to creative subjects in education, with the number of students sitting arts GCSEs having fallen by 10% this year compared to 2017.
Speaking at an event lobbying for the arts at the Royal Albert Hall in London, organised by his charity Children and the Arts, Prince Charles claimed the country does not fully recognise the value of its creative industries.
He said: “I know so many actors and musicians are [where they are now] because they’ve had either a grandmother or a grandfather or a teacher who inspired them to take an interest, and as a result we have a fantastic reputation as a country through our creative industries.
“We don’t realise enough how much those creative industries contribute to our whole economy… but also in terms of developing a whole person, and how you gain a real understanding about life.”
He added: “The arts are vital. So, of course, are engineering skills and all these things, but we mustn’t see things in separate compartments, so I hope that as a result of everybody coming together today, we might be able to understand the need we have in this country to ensure these things are joined up and operating in harmony.”
Attendees of the event, who also included Meera Syal, Lenny Henry, Vivienne Westwood, Myleene Klass and Amanda Holden, signed a joint statement advocating the importance of the arts.
The statement said: “We believe every child should have access during their time in school to the benefits that arts and culture bring.
“A creative, arts-rich education promotes social mobility, well-being and personal fulfilment and allows our creative industries to continue to flourish.”
Lloyd Webber also gave a speech at the event, during which he branded funding cuts to the arts in education as “ludicrous”.
He added: “It isn’t just about funding, it’s not me sitting here bashing the government about funding at a difficult time, it’s about other things as well. It’s about the attitude of teachers and about them feeling they want to empower kids to see and enjoy the arts in the widest form.”
For full coverage of the Children and the Arts event, see next week’s issue of The Stage.