James Rhodes and Jude Kelly talk arts education for young people

Don’t Stop the Music champion James Rhodes took his campaign to the Southbank Centre in London on Saturday, where he was joined by the centre’s artistic director Jude Kelly OBE, to discuss children’s access to culture and the arts.

The event, part of the WHY? What's Happening For The Young? festival, attracted an audience of adults and children keen to join in the conversation about the place of arts education, particularly music, in British schools. 

The WHY? festival was inspired by Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which says: ‘Every child has the right to relax, play and join in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities’. Over four days, visitors and guest speakers sought to discover and discuss what rights children really have in today’s world.

James shared his experiences of the TV series ‘Don’t Stop the Music’, which followed his efforts to bring instrumental tuition and music to children in one Basildon primary school – a school which had little in the way of music lessons, barely any instruments and no music budget.

During the passionate and inspiring afternoon, children and young people in the audience talked about the musical opportunities they had at school, what they’d like to see more of, and what barriers they’d experienced. 

With the Southbank's Jude Kelly, James also discussed the vital impact of the arts and culture on children’s lives, and particularly the role of music education in promoting self-esteem, teamwork, self-confidence, discipline and positive effects on literacy and numeracy. They also discussed the role of class, and if that has an impact on whether people feel entitled to have access to the arts.

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James Rhodes and Jude Kelly talk arts education for young people
James Rhodes and Jude Kelly in conversation at the Southbank Centre's WHY? festival
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