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Phyllida Barlow, one of the artists protesting the UK’s new English baccalaureate qualification, with her work, Dock 2014, at Tate Britain. Photo: David Levene for The Guardian.

Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor Among Artists Protesting the Exclusion of the Arts from UK Schools

More than one hundred artists, including Phyllida Barlow, Jeremy Deller, Tracy Emin, Anish Kapoor, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Rachel Whiteread, have signed an open letter urging the United Kingdom to reevaluate its new English baccalaureate (Ebacc) qualification, which sidelines the arts.

Published in The Guardian, the letter warns against the exclusion of the arts in the curricula for secondary school children, which the signatories believe “will seriously damage the future of many young children in the country.” They also argue that art and culture makes up one of the most successful industries in the UK, generating more than $125 billion for the UK’s economy.

The letter reads: “If we want our creative industries to continue to flourish—we need to rebalance our education system so that the arts are valued just as much as other subjects. Every child should have equal access to the benefits that the arts and culture bring, not just a privileged few.”

The new controversial structure of the Ebacc was introduced by former education secretary Michael Gove. For Deller, it’s a “huge mistake.” He said, “Thinking creatively is what is going to get Britain through a lot of the challenges of the next ten to twenty years.” Barlow added that “without doubt, such ill thought through policies and attitude to the arts is a tragedy. People, young and old, are being deprived of the opportunities to discover their talents and abilities as artists and innovators within disciplines across the board.”

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