Number of primary school children taking part in arts activities has dropped by a third since the last election, Labour claims


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The Independent Online

A significant drop in the number of primary school children taking part in dance, music and drama is highlighted in a report by Labour today.

Figures show the number taking part in these arts activities has dropped by a third since the last election, Shadow Culture Secretary, Harriet Harman, disclosed.

The figures, which also highlight the fact that the drop in take-up is greater amongst black and ethnic minority groups, are taken from the “Taking Part” child survey published by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport published last year.

They showed the percentage taking part in music and theatre and drama has dropped by 35 per cent between 2009/10 and 2012/13 - and by 33 per cent in dance.

Girls were far more likely to participate than boys (43.3 per cent in dance compared with 15.9 per cent for boys), music (41.6 per cent compared with 31.4 per cent) and theatre and drama (38.4 per cent to 27.3 per cent).

“Taking part in art and culture is a vital part of a child’s education and helps them develop their full potential,” said Ms Harman.

“We are seeing a serious fall in the amount of art and culture that children are able to take part in.  The blame for this lies fairly and squarely at the door of this Government. They don’t understand the importance of the arts and their role to extend opportunities to evetry child.

“The widening gap between white and black and minority ethnic children is very worrying.”

Overall, the DCMS survey said five to 15-year-olds’ take-up of the arts had shown a “Significant increase” compared with five years ago - with rises for both five to 10-year-olds and 11 to 15-years-olds in activities such as engaging with films and videos and taking part or going to street art, circus, festival and carnival events.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: "It is nonsense to suggest we do not support the arts either inside or outside school." The Department said it had earmarked £340million specifically to support music and cultural education.