Editorial: 800,000 Children

Improvements in music education are down to political will

There have been two Special Committee reports published by the Arts Council, Towards a Policy for the Traditional Arts in 2004, and Points of Alignment, focusing on arts and education, in 2008. Following the former, the Arts Council allocated three million euro in funding and significant ongoing support thereafter. The subsequent years can be considered a high point in the history of the art form, with traditional music, song and dance enjoying a new buoyancy.

The report of the second Special Committee, on arts and education, has the potential, if its recommendations are implemented, to impact on a much larger community: every school-going child in the country, approximately 800,000, or, as the Chair, Mary Nunan, describes it, ‘Nearly one million citizens in every parish, townland and city in Ireland.’ Yet the cost of this would not be much more than that allocated to the traditional arts, i.e. relatively manageable amounts. While there have been discussions between the arts and education departments and the Arts Council regarding implementation, the down-turn in the public finances has already impacted on the report’s momentum. It will be down, as always, to political will.

It is worth noting, therefore, that the Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe TD, is currently focusing on the issue of third-level fees, pointing to the potential of a better funded third-level sector to enhance our economy. The focus is on the 140,000 students currently in college, and their ability to give Ireland an edge in matters economic, cultural and scientific. Imagine, then, the impact in the future that 800,000 school-going children, equipped with a broad, cutting-edge arts education, would have.

Toner Quinn

Editor

Published on 1 September 2008

Toner Quinn is Editor of The Journal of Music. His website is www.tonerquinn.com.

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