Arts Emergency Manchester is a faction of Arts Emergency, a London-based charity working to create an alternative to the old boy’s network in creative industries. They are in their second year of running workshops in schools in the Manchester area.
On the Arts Emergency website the charity claim that “learning to read poetry or philosophy or how to understand a painting or film are not elite pursuits, but now rising tuition fees and the withdrawal of public funding for the teaching of Arts and Humanities at university means they risk becoming so.”
The number of students taking arts subjects at GCSE level and beyond has been in decline for many years. The Cultural Learning Alliance revealed this summer that over the last five years there has been a decline of 13 per cent in the number of arts GCSE entries.
Bianca Ama Manu, co-chair of Arts Emergency Manchester told The Mancunion: “As a Manchester student branch, we work in conjunction with Access All Areas at the University of Manchester Students’ Union in order to offer top quality workshops to secondary school pupils. We aim to address under-representation and equal opportunity in Higher Education by providing local secondary school students with the opportunity to explore the wide range of arts and humanities subjects offered at the University of Manchester.
Last year the project was very successful, a stand out success being the rescuing of Sociology from being scrapped as a GCSE choice in a school.
The main aim of the project was to encourage young people to think about university and humanities subjects as options. Bianca said of last year’s achievements, “students were concerned about leaving home, choosing the right subject and rising tuition fees. We invested a lot of time dispelling myths and negative images about university. By answering all the questions and concerns students might have had about university, we made it approachable and accessible.
The results of last year’s workshops speak for themselves with 100 per cent of the 24 students strongly agreed that all their questions about university were answered because of the project. 63 per cent strongly agreed the programme had made them think more about university as an option for them, whilst 71 per cent strongly agreed the Arts Emergency Schools programme had helped them discover subjects they hadn’t previously known about. 98 per cent of students would like to go to college or sixth form, and 92 per cent were certain about advancing to university.
Arts Emergency Manchester plans to hold more workshops this year beginning in January 2016 for ten weeks and each week will consist of an hour-long lesson. The selected students will be given an insight into humanities or social science subjects including Anthropology, Geography, Politics, Journalism, Anthropology, American Studies, and History of Art.
Bianca added: “This year, we intend to increase our reach and work with another secondary school. We need as much support to make sure we can keep promoting the importance of arts, humanities and social sciences.”
If you would like to get involved email [email protected] or join their Facebook page for updates.