Government needs to devise a ‘solid plan’ for reintroducing arts education– MEIA

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The government needs to devise a “solid plan” and provide more clarification for the reintroduction of arts education, the Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) has told this newsroom.

This newsroom is informed that, this coming Thursday, the MEIA will be meeting with Professor Charmaine Gauci and Minister for Education Justyne Caruana to discuss the future of arts education.

This newsroom contacted President of the MEIA Howard Keith Debono to ask what he expects this meeting to achieve and why restrictions on arts education should be eased by the government.

Debono hopes that the MEIA, Gauci and Caruana are “on the same page” and can create a “more logical plan” that will pave the way for the re-opening of art schools.

He said there is a mentality that the opening of arts education is considered by many to be as high risk as the opening of bars and restaurants, however he says this is not the case.

 He added that arts education is also not akin to contact sports, which has also been prohibited by the government to control the spread of the virus.

Arts education and arts performance should be considered separately, he said.

Taking dance education as an example, Debono said that there is a difference between dance education and dance performances. “If you’re looking at ballroom dancing, for example, obviously you have close contact with one another. But the typical dance education is different, it’s taught in a different way”.

“If you’re looking at an orchestra of 50 people and comparing it to one singer, yes, there is a difference”, he continued, “but we are specifically talking about arts education here, and we want to do it in a safe environment. With education, there is not a big risk of a spread”.

The MEIA wants to make it stance clear that the creative sector holds great value for many performers and students, however it is not being given the attention it deserves by the government.

“This is a case where the pandemic brought to the surface what we already knew – that the creative sector is not considered as important as other sectors, yet thousands of people depend on it for their livelihoods”, he said. “Measures are being taken to service other industries and we need to react back”.

Thousands are currently in the dark on the future of arts education, waiting to hear for clarification on what to expect.

“Considering arts education alone, there are billions of euros that have been invested into private schools for individuals to pursue their creative faculties”, he said. “It’s not only about teachers and tutors working in the sector, but also about the students. There are more than 12,000 students who have parents who need to hear information they can rely on”.

“We’re hoping to get clarification and have a solid plan so that we can inform our members, who can then inform students and their parents”, Debono concluded.

Last Sunday, the MEIA issued a statement saying they are deeply concerned that performing arts schools have not been allowed to reopen.

“Unlike what has been reported in the media, the provision of arts education was in line with all protocols requested by the health authorities and carries no higher risk than any other educational activity”, the statement said.

It said that, whereas some online teaching may resume, the main pedagogical content requires practical and in-person training.

“Government’s approach to close arts schools confirms the mindset towards a sector that is an afterthought and is serving as the sacrificial lamb to appease other industries.”

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