Over the next few days in the lead-up to the ACT | UJ Creative Conference, we will be posting several op-eds from our ACT Team members as well as the conference presenters & performers. This will allow the delegates to interact with some of the key themes and ideas around this year’s #CreativeUprising.
Today’s opinion piece comes from The Arts & Culture Trust’s very own Pieter Jacobs:
If anything has the potential to change what the arts industry will be in years to come, it is involving young people in shaping its future.
I vividly remember my first theatre encounter as a Grade 1 learner (at the time known as Sub A) – from the anticipation that builds as we’ve left the dusty streets of Dewetsdorp in the Free State to watch Liewe Heksie at the Sand du Plessis in Bloemfontein to the sheer ecstasy of experiencing the magic of theatre. In those days, production values of children’s theatre were excellent. And it certainly was not wasted on impressionable young minds.
This is where I fell in love for the first time. And my friends who didn’t fall quite as hard as I did, to this day cherish those memories and now and then return to the theatre in search for that moment of magic. And that is, of course, what the industry needs – a theatre-going, book-reading, art-loving culture. Even though the world has changed in so many ways, I believe that good art has the power to wave its magic wand and take hold of future art-lovers in ways few other things in life are able to. Art equips people to understand others and themselves, decipher complex feelings and concepts and teaches them empathy – things society seems to have lost.
Counter-productively, a lot of emphasis in the development environment is placed on the number of children reached rather than the quality of an experience. This, together with the short-term nature of engagements leaves the arts industry with a difficult audience development challenge.
The Arts & Culture Trust and UJ Arts & Culture believe that young people need to be given an opportunity to shape and take ownership of their creative future. The upcoming #CreativeUprising conference will do exactly that. A part of the conference programme, dare I say one of the most exciting parts, is designed specifically to engage with learners about arts education. Additionally, artists, practitioners, formal and informal arts educators are invited to join us on the 27th and 28th of July to talk about and learn more about arts education and art in education.