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Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry and David Shrigley protest the sidelining of arts in schools

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Over 100 renowned artist have signed an open letter in The Guardian, deploring the new English baccalaureate (Ebacc) qualification for sidelining creative subjects. The protesting artists include Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry, Rachel Whiteread, Jeremy Deller, Rose Wylie, David Shrigley, Bob and Roberta Smith, Gillian Wearing and Anish Kapoor.

The new qualification — which was created in 2010 under the education secretary at the time Michael Gove — favours what the government considers “core subjects”. The compulsory Ebacc subjects include sciences, English, maths, a language and geography or history. No arts subjects have been made mandatory for students to study. The UK government aims to have 90% of GCSE students sitting the Ebacc by 2025.

The artists are urging the government to “reverse” its decision and take into account the damaging effects cutting down on creative subjects can have on younger generations and society as a whole. The artists argue that “every child should have equal access to the benefits that the arts and culture bring” instead of just a “privileged few”. Moreover, they state that the new secondary school qualification “places one of our largest and most successful global industries at risk, one worth £92bn a year to the UK economy”. They also accuse the government of depriving young people of “opportunities for personal development” by cutting back on the arts.

The open letter also claims that “there is compelling evidence that the study of creative subjects is in decline in state schools and that entries to arts and creative subjects have fallen to their lowest level in a decade”. Only a few months ago (January 2018), the BBC published a report that stated creative subjects are being “squeezed”, with nine in ten schools admitting they have been forced to cut back on teaching costs in at least one creative subject.