'THE ARTS WILL HOLD YOU BACK' A Letter to Nicky Morgan MP - Minister for Education.

Please read Nicky Morgan's shamefully ignorant comments regarding the arts in this article from the stage:


I have written to her with the following reply. People are having problems sharing it on facebook as it only copies the link to the article and not my letter... I'm hoping to have more success here...

Dear Nicky Morgan,

I am writing to thank-you for your astoundingly astute piece of advice when you say that ‘arts subjects can hold you back for the rest of your lives’. If only you had been in power forty years ago and prevented me from making such terrible life choices…

You see, when I was at school I made the stupid mistake of deciding to follow a career in the arts, and wasted my time at Art College and Drama College.

Imagine my surprise when there were no Insurance Brokers, Lawyers Firms or Accountancy Companies that would go near me! Instead I had to make do with forming my own company to take theatre to the depressed areas of the valleys and, god forbid, bring laughter, education and participatory workshops to the children living in a world of closed pits and deprivation. I know – horrible – despite the irony of me becoming a small business and paying my own way.

Then, whilst scraping a living in the West End, I was humiliated into creating another company and making top quality television programmes for a global audience of children. My disappointment was clear when all my programmes could muster was a meagre £490 million at retail in the UK within two years and create a paltry few hundred jobs. – because lets face it, people hate being educated, questioned, entertained and challenged – they’d far rather be reading a small selection of books designed to allow them to pass a focussed series of exams – that will in turn help them find their way into life affirming jobs such as the civil service and debt management.

If only I had studied those spread sheets instead of creating inspirational large-scale theatre for millions of people. If only I had stuck my head down and become an intern at a political party instead of opening creative doorways for children with learning difficulties. How could I have been so stupid as to take the real emotional issues facing our children in this ever more violent world caused mainly by the short term policies of politicians and the greed of bankers, and create well thought through, targeted and compassionate stories for them! We even did our best to teach tolerance and love and ways for all religions and communities to live together peacefully! What was I thinking? What possible value could that be to anyone? The politicians are making a much better job of that!

You are right, my career choices and my foolish belief in the arts has held me back immeasurably. It has had the repressive side effect of making many children’s lives better, of creating a string of fantastic live experiences shared by thousands of children, adults and families, and has even saved lives by teaching children to dial the emergency services. Stupidly I have also helped teach children their first words, and given them enough joy to speak and sing and express their love of being alive.

I realise now how empty my life has been…. If only I had not been held back by the arts…

I hope all the inspirational teachers, practitioners and people involved in the arts in whatever form will stop making such silly decisions, avoid the horrendous folly of my life.

Thank you again.

Will Brenton

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