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Commercial and subsidised theatre must stand together to support creativity in schools

As Rufus Norris comments on the worrying trend of arts subjects being reduced in schools, director of Joe Public Luke Shires explains why the commercial and subsidised sector must be a collective force

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Everyone in the theatre community should read Rufus Norris' opinion piece in the Guardian immediately. It is the most eloquent and rational explanation of the utterly dire threat that creativity is under in every state school in the UK and we must all stand together to take action.

We have to stand as a collective force; commercial and subsidised standing shoulder to shoulder

There is no logic in the government praising the growth of the creative industries whilst concurrently killing any creative opportunity young people have whilst they are at school. We have a moment in time to proudly stand tall as a powerful influence within the creative industries, but we have to stand as a collective force; commercial and subsidised standing shoulder to shoulder to carry this responsibility and force change. There is an opportunity for us all to make a commitment to support the social, cultural and creative enrichment of young people in the UK, at a time when our teachers are being proactively disempowered from doing so.

We need those young people to become the creative talent of the future. We need them to want to work within our industry and push us forward. We need those young people to be a valued part of our audiences now, in order for them to become our audience of the future.

If a young person's first encounter with theatre is a big commercial production, either in the West End or on tour, then there is an intrinsic responsibility for that production to play its part in ensuring that one magical moment has the potential to become a lifelong passion. There are thousands of teachers across the country that desperately want to provide the opportunity for those moments for their students, but if the arts subjects they teach are being eradicated, how on earth can they be expected to have the ammunition to fight for the opportunities on their student's behalf?

Our relationship with the education sector can't and must not be transactional

What if we all stood together and listened to what teachers need at this crucial moment in time? What if we made a collective commitment to do all we can to empower teachers to bring their students to the theatre? Our relationship with the education sector can't and must not be transactional. We must begin and continue a dialogue with them that can power us all as a collective force to take responsibility for the future success of our industry. There are both short term and long term goals that we could work together to achieve. Now is the time for us to make a stand alongside teachers and their students. We can't ignore just how dangerous cutting out creativity and creative subjects is and Rufus Norris' piece feels like the call to arms to bring every corner of our industry together and provoke change.

Luke Shires is the director of Joe Public and also established The ArtsLink in 2015.