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Culture, Politics and Drama Education: The Creative Agenda 1997-2015In the years following New Labour’s election victory (1997) the creative agenda was a visible concern for schools and teachers. A number of influential documents and policy documents were launched to promote creativity in schools. New funding opportunities had been made available to support teachers and classroom learning, most notably the Arts Council initiative Creative Partnerships (2002). Buckingham and Jones (2001) describe the period as the “Cultural Turn” towards the creative and cultural industries. Paradoxically, the creative agenda emerged at a time when teachers experienced unprecedented levels of control over, and public scrutiny of, their everyday working lives; it was a period of time dominated by a ‘bureaucratisation” of education. For Stronach et al. (2002) it was a rise of a performativity discourse in response to the audit culture. Post 2010, the introduction of school performance measures, such as the compulsory English Baccalaureate (2015), offers another kind of performativity discourse, but from a perspective other than creativity. The long-term outlook for creative subjects appears bleak, particularly for dance and drama. This article examines the period 1997-2015 with reference to Neelands and Choe’s (2010) assertion that creativity is a cultural and political idea.
In the Thick of It, Proximities of Belonging in Performance ResearchThemes of belonging: to a group, identity, culture and place have dominated education and performance research in recent years. For the social sciences, the educational significance of belonging tends to surface within ethnicity and race (see Demie, 2005; Hassan, 2009; Tomlinson, 1998), gender and sexuality (see Cole, 2006) and self-esteem and citizenship education (see Ma, 2003; Halliday, 1999; Piper and Garratt, 2004). In these contexts, questions of belonging are typically premised upon ideas of inclusion and exclusion, notions of Otherness and constructs of personal and social identity. For the purposes of this paper, though, I approach belonging from the perspective of the dramatic inquiry and storytelling. To introduce the theme, I refer to proximities of belonging, as exemplified by Conquergood (2004) and for dramatic practice, Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. By way of illustration, I consider two projects undertaken as part my PhD: Heroes and Villains: a performance project with junior school children from a junior school in Stoke-on-Trent and Robin and the Pirate Letters: an early readers initiative for infant children in Cheshire East.