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  • Jamie McCarthy

Racism in Arts Education.

15th June 2020.


I’ve seen a few statements from arts educational institutions in support of Black Lives Matter. I’m still reading them properly and digesting them, so I wouldn’t want to comment on them individually. I also work as a freelancer in an arts education institution and am implicated in some of the things I’m going to say now. I just wonder … whilst making statements about racism, I really don’t think you can divorce it from the whole environment in which arts education happens now.

Some questions:

How does putting the generation of income first before art and education contribute to the exclusion and alienation of black students?

How does our current environment of measuring and quantifying everything to judge whether it ‘has value’ or not contribute to it?

How does the turning of art into a ‘commodity that contributes to the economy’ contribute to it?

How does increasing the number of students and increasing class sizes contribute to it?

How does talking about things like ‘being a centre of excellence’ contribute to it?

Who gets to be the judge of what’s excellent?

Who does that exclude or marginalise?

How does having such a large pay gap between the director of the institution and the cleaners and security workers contribute to it?

How does students having to get into massive debt to study contribute to it?

How does ‘the student as customer’ contribute to it?

How does the general reduction in job-security of teaching staff contribute to it?

I’m not pointing fingers at anyone/where in particular, and I’m not trying to deflect from the questions that in a way address the day-to-day racism in arts education more directly, I just think that these questions are also part of it.

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