The small country of Wales has just done something big. The government of Wales, in conjunction with the Welsh Arts Council has issued a 5-year action plan titled Creative Learning Through the Arts: An Action Plan for Wales. It starts with a vision:
The arts, and creative approaches to teaching and learning, should have a major role in all our schools, where collaboration with arts and cultural organisations and with creative practitioners is a common feature, and where good practice is shared and accessible to all. (p.4)
One of the most amazing and wonderful parts of the report is that it is designed, among other things, to “reduce the impact of disadvantage.” While so many schools in the U.S. seem to perceive the only option for students with learning difficulties to be throwing the arts out with the proverbial bathwater, Wales has set that process on its ear. The route to greater achievement, contends the report, is more creativity and more arts experiences.
Based on recommendations by Professor Dai Smith, the report has three main areas of emphasis:
- Improving achievement and motivation by embedding the arts in curriculum
- Increasing opportunities for all students to work in the arts, and with professionals in the arts
- Supporting teachers and arts professionals in developing their skills.
It’s enough to make me want to get on a plane, just to see how it all evolves.
Of course, the great Welsh arts initiative is just beginning. But its careful planning and scheduled evaluation should provide new and interesting insight into the challenges and benefits of large-scale arts programming. I can’t wait to see how it will turn out. My Welsh grandmother would be so proud!