When Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring first opened in Paris almost 100 years ago, the country's centuries old division between classes; the bourgeoisie vs the bohemian, reared its ugly head once again and almost caused a riot. Now, in the same year that there is a celebratory return to Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring in the UK, a similar clash of classes is burgeoning on the horizon, as the new Conservative educational strategy seems to actively oust the arts, much to the disapproval, disappointment and derision of many in its ranks.
Proposed changes to the curriculum include getting rid of GCSEs and replacing them with Baccalaureates (Ebaccs), which would primarily focus on English, Maths and Science, before spreading itself out to the humanities and languages- without the arts even being given a mention. Alistair Spalding, the Artistic Director at the Sandler Wells Institute, which ironically is currently responsible for the Akram Khan's recreation of The Rite of Spring, has spoken out against these new plans reported in the Guardian.
"Dance alongside other arts subjects is to be excluded from the English Baccalaureate that will replace GCSEs from 2015. This is a great pity as we are currently reaping the rewards the investment in dance education has brought us. Many of the choreographers and dancers we work with at Sadler's Wells have benefited from an early exposure to the art form". It seems stupid to oust dance and other arts, as he says "Five million Brits of every age, class and both genders are now participating in dance classes and sessions every week. Young people are now participating in dance at an unprecedented level. We think this is the most serious threat to the art form".
The government seem to have forgotten that now that the country has very little industrial labour left on shore, one of the biggest forms of revenue is tourism, and the biggest driver of tourism is that which is fuelled by the arts; galleries, museums, theatre and dance. Cutting money to the arts will inevitably mean cutting money being made by the arts- which is millions. However, of course, we could be underestimating the government. They may be recognising that some of the greatest art of all time has been created as a result of social and political unrest.
Khan's reimagining of The Rite of Spring will be called ITMOI (In the Mind of Igor) and will be performed from May 29 to June 1, 2013.