Great to see the Star letter on Tuesday from Robin Hughes and he’s right: classical music can be enjoyed by everyone.
He’s also right that we need political candidates to nail their colours to the mast in this election when it comes to talking about a well-rounded education, with the arts at its heart, for all the city’s children and young people.
Getting politicians to talk about the importance of the arts can be something of a thankless task.
They are often viewed as less of a priority than social care, or the National Health Service, but the well-documented dividends of an education that embraces the arts include improving young people’s well-being, self-confidence, employability and their ability to contribute to the economy, as well as enjoying and being part of the great art, music and theatre that’s on offer in Sheffield. This means the arts should be high up on any candidate’s agenda.
We have a long way to go in Sheffield to ensure that all our children have the same opportunities to experience and benefit from the music Robin refers to, but there are also plenty of examples of good practice to celebrate and build on here.
Despite the fall in numbers of music teachers, and the lack of young people at the concert Robin mentioned, we have a very proactive Music Hub dedicated to providing music teaching for all 74,000 of our children and young people.
Many hundreds of them learn and perform in outstanding orchestras and bands in the city, and there are some excellent examples of organisations, like Music in the Round, that provide fantastic concerts and projects to get children involved from a very young age.
We need not just our election candidates, but all our decision-makers in the city to get behind the arts, in all its forms, so that more children attend as audiences, but also so that more people’s lives in the city are enriched and made better, and so that the city itself reaps the benefits.