Sir Nicholas Serota on #artschools: Reflections from our Symposium

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

On October 24 2018, Kaldor Public Art Projects presented ALL SCHOOLS SHOULD BE ART SCHOOLS, a one-day symposium for art education professionals in partnership with UNSW Art & Design. Representatives from the NSW government sector, schools, nation-wide universities and major regional and metropolitan institutions in NSW, ACT and VIC attended the event. Speakers and attendees engaged in critical discussion on the importance of creative learning, with a focus on primary and secondary schools, and institutions for arts and culture.

Sir Nicholas Serota CH, Chair of Arts Council England and former Director of Tate, opened the symposium with an inspiring keynote address advocating for school curricula and education policies that recognise the importance of creative learning in schools, as outlined in reports such as Tate’s Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement, and the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education.

Sir Nicholas noted that while STEM subjects are often prioritised by teachers, "the skills associated with the arts, are equally vital as we move beyond an age of information, to one in which invention is critical.” Sir Nicholas also discussed his views on the future of museum engagement in a brilliant  interview with the Australian Financial Review.

The first panel of the day included Mark Scott AO, Dr Christine Evans, Dr Karen Maras, Meredith Melville-Jones, and Howard Matthew. The speakers unpacked the creative changes that need to be made within the classroom and in school curricula. Dr Karan Maras, Deputy Head of School and Convenor of Visual Arts & Design Education at UNSW's School of Education made a strong case for rigorous professional training: “We need to overcome this idea of ‘the arts’ as some kind of generic blancmange. Art is complex. We need discipline-specific professional learning. And we need to devote good time to teachers to learn how to teach art. Time to develop courageous perspectives.”

The second panel discussion looked beyond the classroom and included valuable presentations by Nick Mitzevich, Deborah Ely, Tony Albert and Frank Newman. Panellists offered insights into how schools can sustain meaningful, collaborative partnerships with cultural institutions on a local and national level.

Artist Agatha Gothe-Snape documented the energy and activity of the keynote address and the first and second panel through a live text-based drawing. In the afternoon Gothe-Snape presented a compelling PowerPoint presentation performance and facilitated a dynamic workshop. The workshop asked participants to reflect upon a transformative encounter with creativity in their lives, the encounter was then discussed within the group and documented through text and drawing on a set of limited-edition posters. We were thrilled to see all participants deeply engaged in the process and sharing intimate life experience with strangers.

In 2019 Kaldor Public Art Projects will showcase 50-years of projects at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, with the aim of developing new models of creative learning and teaching, collaboration and community engagement. The ALL SCHOOLS SHOULD BE ART SCHOOLS symposium provided a unique opportunity for Kaldor Public Art Projects to showcase the latest developments in art education and artist-led pedagogy, informed by extensive research into best-practice learning and engagement programs. It also enabled our education team to connect with pioneering creative learning specialists and build new knowledge to feed into future programming within the anniversary exhibition.

If you attended the symposium or joined the live stream, we would love you to share your experiences in one of our short surveys. Your feedback is invaluable to our future events and programs. 

Survey for teachers
Survey for the general public

For those who couldn't be there on the day or would like to know more, we'll be releasing video recordings of both panel discussions, as well as documentation and downloadable resources in the weeks to come. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates.


Photo 1: Jacquie Manning
Photos 2-5: Anna Kucera