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Opinion21st May 2021

“We’re far stronger together,” say arts professionals

Over the last year, our Ark Music team has used online spaces to connect arts education practitioners through a series of roundtable discussions, exploring relevant issues in the arts sector and bringing together teachers, freelancers, and Ark Schools alumni through reflective conversations.

Last term’s talk, ‘Better Together’, looked at the relationships between different art forms and how we can encourage more collaboration between them, starting at school.

You can join the next Ark Music Roundtable event on Monday 24th May at 7pm, called ‘Mind the Gender Gap’ by emailing

Emma Grimsey (Music Programme Coordinator) and Ester Demideh, an Ark Globe alum who organised the event tell us more about the last session.

Chanté Faucher, actor, Junior Artist in Residence and Ark Burlington Danes Academy alumna, facilitated the discussion between a panel of four arts practitioners and the alumni and educators present in the Zoom room. The panel consisted of experienced professionals from across the arts sector:

Through exploring the experiences of the panellists and the audience members, the discussion highlighted how essential cross-arts collaboration is:

However, within the school ecosystem, there are significant barriers to collaboration. Our panellists and audience members alike explored how limited funding and resources, particularly in the state education sector, has left arts departments pitted against each other.

Teachers ae often competing to get students on to their courses – particularly as school funding and staffing can depend on how many students pick a subject at GCSE/A level.

Emily Crowhurst said: “As a music teacher and now a Head of Performing Arts, my passion is music, but I also work with the Drama team. It’s been a really important learning space to understand the perspective of other art subjects.

“In order to do my job well I need to advocate and find solutions on both sides…We tend to get into our own silo and that can be what is quite dangerous about the way schools are structured. We are in our own subject zones… collaboration across arts subjects allows you to see other perspectives and empathise. We’re far stronger together – often we are fighting the same battles with the school. Our values tend to be aligned so with a united front we are more likely to have advantages from all corners.”

The discussion highlighted that music and the arts should be the lifeblood of a school, enriching students’ lives whether or not they are picking the subject for GCSE. In addition, the importance of creativity, self-expression, and the art of learning to fail are vital life skills, transcending the curriculum – with the panellists suggesting that there needs to be a shift in the education system to prioritise continuous enrichment opportunities.

Speaking on the CoLab Festival at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Joe Townsend said: “We do not assess students on their ability to take part in creative, collaborative projects. Experimentation and the right to fail should not carry a grade.”

At Ark, we know that high-quality music education stimulates personal, emotional, and intellectual development. Ark Music demonstrates the viability of a successful and inclusive in-school music programme that develops musical skills, nurtures specific musical interests, harnesses a life-long love for a variety of music, and builds our students’ confidence in life.

We know there’s pressure on young people to do well in the core subjects, but that shouldn’t mean music and the arts are less important. On the contrary, music is a crucial part of life in many of our schools and is designed to build confidence and love all music genres. As we work with exceptional industry partners, we will continue to break down barriers and ensure young people, regardless of their background, can embrace their creativity and curiosity within the arts.

The next Ark Music Roundtable event takes place on Monday 24 May. This session will explore gender stereotypes and binaries in the music industry and education and examine how to enable young people to explore music and express their whole selves creatively, regardless of their gender identity. The discussion will be facilitated by Ark Bolingbroke Academy alumnus Glen Travis, and the panel will feature:

To attend this talk, please email,