Editorial: Spring Term 1

Sarah Lambie
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Against the odds

As we head towards a Christmas break once again threatened by a new variant of Covid-19 – with all the attendant impacts on the arts and on education – there is a disheartening sense that we are taking two steps forward and one step back. As I write this, the RSC have just announced compulsory mask-wearing for their audiences, and no doubt other theatres will follow suit, in a valiant attempt to stay open through the winter. Likewise, compulsory mask-wearing is back at school, and of course none of us wish to return to a situation where we cannot get at least a small majority of our classes and casts together in person for drama lessons and rehearsals.

Meanwhile there is widespread disappointment after the Budget set out by Rishi Sunak on 27 October made no mention at all of the manifesto pledge £90m ‘arts premium’ for schools, which had been due to begin arriving from September and had already been noticed to have been quietly shelved when this didn't happen.

While the intervening pandemic is, of course, an extenuating circumstance, it has also represented all the more reason why the beleaguered arts need financial support, and, crucially, also the ideological support of being prioritised at a government level in education. Even Giles Watling, MP for Clacton in Essex and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Theatre, who sat on a panel for the Drama and Theatre Education Alliance (DTEA) at this year's Conservative party conference, writes in this issue's Opinion column (page 11) that ‘I know things are not where we would like them to be in terms of Drama accessibility in school.’

It falls, therefore, as ever, to the resilience and creativity of Drama teachers to fight for our subject, and our students, in school and out. I was, as every year, awe-struck by the evidence of this in the extraordinary crop of nominees for the Music & Drama Education Awards 2022, the shortlists for which are announced on pages 34-35 of this issue. One element of the judging process which it is sad not to be able to share with the public is the reading of nomination statements for individual teachers written by students, parents and colleagues. It is abundantly evident in these statements that teachers are genuinely changing lives through Drama on a daily basis, and it is wonderful to be able to recognise and celebrate their doing so. Congratulations to all shortlisted nominees.

Best wishes for your festive season, in and out of school.

- Sarah Lambie, Editor