Why the arts matter

At a time when increasingly arts subjects are marginalised within the national curriculum, it is reassuring to see music, drama and art flourishing at Rossall School. There is no better time to see this than at the moment as we find ourselves in the heart of the Rossall Arts Festival 2019. Whether you are a singer, painter, actor, musician, whether you are at the very start of your school career or about to depart to university, there is an event taking place to showcase your talent and passion.

For me, as a relative newcomer, and certainly an Arts Festival novice, I am particularly taken not only by the talent and hard work of the children, the commitment of the dedicated staff, but also by the incredible sense of community created through the process. The inclusiveness of the events is particularly heart warming with the Junior School Big Sing drawing hundreds of primary pupils from across the local area in a communal project culminating in a wonderful performance in our Chapel.

The Night at the Musicals and the evening of Speech and Drama both showcased not only the incredible talent of some of our pupils, but more importantly provided an opportunity for many children to perform in front of a wide and varied audience. For some of them, this was their first time in doing so, and the process of overcoming one’s “nerves”, harnessing inner stores of resilience to deliver, and making it through to the end to surface with a smile on your face, and breathe a sigh of relief perhaps, is the sensation and process that holds the key to high self esteem and a positive self image.

The jewel of the week for me however was the moving, engrossing and exceptionally well executed performance of Blood Brothers. From Henry Singleton’s memorable rendition of “Our Sammie” to the warmth of accidental brotherhood that made the ending so powerful, this play left a mark and all of the cast and crew should be exceptionally proud of their achievements.

These are formative experiences for our pupils whether they are stepping into the limelight, supporting backstage or watching their friends in the audience. The opportunity to learn self expression whether through voice, dance, art, playing of a musical instrument, or assuming the role of someone else is a lifelong gift. Not every emotion has words to explain it, not every worry has thoughts to cheer it, not every frustration has an avenue to alleviate it; but expression through the arts gives children an opportunity to channel and find a positive outlet whether absorbed in watching others or by losing themselves in their performance. Furthermore, times of such high intensity build relationships and grow the aforementioned sense of community – working towards the same goal, making compromises, supporting those around you, thinking on your feet, taking initiative all lead not only to communal success but an inevitable realisation of the importance of the individual within the group; the sense that what you do matters.

The collective word used to describe our “arts” festival in itself alludes to why this is such an incredibly important part of the Rossall School curriculum. The development of one’s skills, whether in singing or photography, whether in acting or directing, relies on the belief that learning is a journey and that no matter where you are at the moment committing to the refinement of your skill will lead to further improvement and success. Investment of time and effort, the resilience to keep going even when progress stagnates, picking yourself up when things go wrong, seeing the sum of your efforts realised in one final piece establish a lifelong memory as well as a personal expectation and understanding that the effort and hard work as well as patience and perseverance are worth it in all walks of life.

I am delighted of course that the arts festival is only part way through and am particularly excited to explore the Art Exhibition, enjoy performances of poetry in a multitude of languages and even contribute my voice (although I am told that I sound somewhat flat)! to the Come & Sing rendition of Mozart’s Requiem in the Chapel.

I hope to see many of you there!