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Are We Just Going To Let Creative Writing Die?

20/03/2017 15:41 GMT | Updated 20/03/2017 15:41 GMT
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The A Level in Creative Writing is due to come to an end this year.

Other arts A Levels, such as the A Level in Art History, have, since the decision to close the A Level in Creative Writing was taken by the government, been saved.

Here's why we shouldn't just stand by and let the A Level in Creative Writing go:

1) The subjects we study at school have been shown to influence the subjects we choose for university and then for our careers and then the choices we guide our children to make - if students can't choose creative writing at school, it means the diversity of our writers is likely to decrease as only students from a backgrounds which encourage this area will be likely to pursue writing as a career.

2) If writing is about reflecting on who we were, who we are, and who we can be, isn't it important the voices who are contributing to this discussion are diverse and not just from particular background?

3) If we are going to create a sustainable writing career - one that pays and has clear routes in and clear career progression - this possibility becomes more likely if writing is a clear career option from school and viewed as a viable occupation.

4) One of the greatest values of the arts has always been as a chance to reflect on the world, explore new ideas, comment on what is going on, and offer possibilities and ideas for change - shouldn't this discussion be open to everyone? Lyndon Johnson, on signing into existence the National Endowment for the Arts in the US, said: "Art is a nation's most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish."

5) It can't be a coincidence that one of the first proposals Donald Trump has made is to close the National Endowment for the Arts in the US - if the arts are about reflecting on what is going on, then the arts can be seen either as of value to a democratic society, or as a threat to an insecure leader.

6) One of the quotes going round in the US in the discussion on the National Endowment of the Arts is Winston Churchill's defence of the arts. Winston Churchill said: "The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them". Britain has always been seen as leading the way in the arts and the arts contribute millions to the UK economy.

So what can we do? Here are some ideas:

1. School level - at school level, we need to teach the arts, including creative writing, so that our students consider these subjects as possible career paths. At a recent meeting I attended in parliament, the decline of specialist subjects such as the arts being taught in schools was discussed, and highlighted as a consequence of EBACC not containing creative subjects and driving schools to focus on core EBACC subjects.

2. University level - similarly, our university courses need to train writers in the skills they need, such as craft and business skills, to maintain successful and sustainable careers writers, and not just offer feedback on creative work (creating the impression writing is more of a hobby and leaving the writer with no long-term skillset to fall back on). Courses need to be viewed as important and not a way to supplement writing income by writers who are teaching them or by the industry as taught by people who are out of date.

23. Careers - writing as a career needs to have a clear pathway in and accessible clear explanations of how to maintain a career as a writer. There need to be more guides which focus on the business side of being a writer.

At Central Saint Martins, on the MA Dramatic Writing I run, we are running a petition to save the A level in Creative Writing - please sign before it's too late: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/reinstate-the-creative-writing-a-level

For more information on the MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martin's new campaign to increase access and diversity in the writing industry, including the petition, survey on the future of dramatic writing and new partnership with Oberon Books to provide access to leading industry writing training programmes' advice which has never been published before, please go to:https://oberonbooks.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/the-masters-at-work/

To sign the petition to save the A Level Creative Writing, please go to: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/reinstate-the-creative-writing-a-level