Thursday, April 21, 2011

An open letter against the proposed closure of the Theatre Arts Department at Adam Smith College, Kirkcaldy

An open letter to those who care about the future of Theatre Arts in Adam Smith College.

I understand that the reason given for closing down this hugely successful department is that it is no longer considered “a viable area to support economic development in Fife”.

This statement flies in the face of every piece of current research that looks at the economic impact of the arts.

Those responsible for this decision really need to be reminded that the Arts and Creative Industries contribute £5.2 billion to the Scottish economy.

By any standards, that’s a very good return on the Scottish government’s £194 million investment in the sector.

No question about it: Adam Smith would undoubtedly approve.

What he would condemn, and condemn in the strongest possible terms, would be the folly of the College that takes his name refusing to invest in a sector where the projected employment growth rate between 2007 and 2014 is three times higher than in other sectors of the economy.

I am proud to have worked in this sector for over thirty years, during which I have had about 75 scripts performed in almost every dramatic medium in every continent of the world. Right now I have a play being produced in Serbia; another in North Carolina; and my Anna Karenina will shortly open in Dundee Rep.

I was very pleased and proud to also see that play being so excellently produced earlier this year by Theatre Arts students in this College. It was a total pleasure to meet the students involved and see for myself the positive impact this was having on their self confidence, their understanding of the world, and their capacity to work together as a team.

That is one reason why employers are so interested in drama graduates.

One reason why the Scottish Labour Party’s current manifesto states that “Scotland’s capacity for creative innovation is our ticket to economic growth. Investment in the creativity of our people is an investment in our future prosperity.”

One of the many reasons why Adam Smith College should be investing in its highly regarded Theatre Arts Department. Instead of trying to close it.

But it is not the most important reason.

Drama is one of humanity’s most ancient art forms. It is of fundamental importance, not only because it gives so much pleasure, but because it is one of the main tools we possess to help us understand our selves and our place in the world.

Every person present here today will have seen at least one piece of drama in some form at some time in the past week. And not just here; but just about everyone in Kirkcaldy. Just about everyone in Fife. Just about everyone in the country.

Because creating or witnessing drama is a fundamental part of being human.

That’s why this letter is also addressed to you, Principal Thomson, and all your colleagues involved in this decision.

All of us here unite in asking you to reverse it.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Clifford.


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