Creative artists have ‘moral responsibility’ to become school govenors, head of Arts Council England says

Chief executive of Arts Council England lends his support to TES’s Huge History Lesson competition

People who work in the arts have a “moral responsibility” to become school governors, the new chief executive of Arts Council England has said.

Darren Henley told TES that he is now passing this message on to anyone working in the creative arts whom he meets.

“I would like to see a big campaign to see as many artists, curators, heads of arts organisations as possible becoming school governors,” he said. “I think they have a moral responsibility to do it. I’m a school governor, so I can say that with impunity.”

Mr Henley, who took up his post at Arts Council England earlier this year, was speaking to TES in advance of the launch of the organisation’s cultural education guarantee today.

The aim of the guarantee is to offer all school pupils the opportunity to create, visit and participate in art and culture. In particular, it is designed to encourage more children to visit museums around the country.

To help achieve this, it will be working together with TES and the British Museum on a new challenge called the Huge History Lesson. Conceived by TV presenter Dan Snow, spoken-word artist George the Poet and Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, the aim is to encourage pupils to engage with culture and history.

Primary and secondary pupils will be challenged to find an object that interests them, and then produce a lesson plan that allows them to communicate to the rest of the class what it is they find fascinating about that object.

The competition runs until 11 January. There will be one overall winner chosen, as well as two runners up, and all lesson plans will be uploaded on to the TES website.

“Talent is absolutely everywhere in England,” Mr Henley told TES. “But sometimes the opportunity for that talent to come to the fore isn’t there. We want to make sure that everybody, wherever they are in the country, has that chance.

“We want to bring together schools, local authors, philanthropists, arts organisations. It’s about unleashing individuals’ creativity and their own artistic practices. We’re saying, ‘You’ve got permission to do this’. Everyone can create great art.”

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