On Tuesday 10 July 2017 nearly 200 children marched from Kingsway Primary School in support of arts education. This was the triumphant culmination of arts venue Junction’s first year in Children & the Arts’ Start programme.

This was arts venue Junction’s first year in Start. Junction had identified Kingsway Primary School as a school in an area associated with high levels of deprivation, which typically have low levels of arts engagement, and asked them to take part in the Start programme.

During the year the children from Kingsway visited Junction to watch a shadow puppet show, followed by workshops in school with professional artists. This inspired the school to perform their own shadow puppet performances instead of doing a traditional school Christmas play.

For the final celebration at the end of the year Junction, inspired by the children’s enthusiasm for the arts, decided to give them a provocation…

An actor visited the school during assembly, playing the role of ‘Minister for Order’, and informed the children that arts education was to be removed from their school. This was met with horrified cries from the children – quotes included “I felt like an angry pirate” and “I was as sad as a kid whose ice lolly was melting”. The teaching staff also fully embraced the ban and even took steps to endorse the story by attending school all dressed in black.

The ‘Minister of Order’ however, did give the children the chance to protest the ban. To prepare their response the children were given a team of artists to work with, including punk poets, songwriters and dramatists.

This hard work culminated in the children marching holding banners aloft and singing loudly as they progressed from their school to Junction. On their arrival at Junction they attracted passing crowds with their beautiful rendition of ‘This is Me’ from 'The Greatest Showman'. The children then entered the theatre to perform their showcase of poems, dances and songs to the ‘Minister of Order’ (who, we are delighted to announce, was convinced and the arts were returned to Kingsway).

“The arts are important, without them everything would be plain, not very nice and boring

Pupil

“It was an excellent opportunity for the children to gain cultural capital, improve aspirations and motivations

Teacher

“I’m pleased that the children can see the value of arts within their vibrant school. It’s good that they are angry and passionate. We have enjoyed working with Kingsway over the last year and the children have worked with a very diverse range of arts practitioners. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership through the next two years of the Start programme.

Nicola Dixon, Junction’s Youth and Community Co-ordinator

As an extra bonus to a successful year we are delighted that due to Start, 118 children from Y4 and Y5 at Kingsway Primary School achieved the prestigious Arts Award Discover qualification.