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Research: Kids benefit from 65min per day of arts

June 8, 2022

Millions of primary school aged children could benefit from having an average of 65 minutes dedicated to the arts every day – specifically 17 minutes dedicated to literature, 14 minutes to art, 12 minutes to music, 11 minutes to drama and 11 minutes to dancing.

The figure, a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for the arts, has been built using insights from 504 primary school teachers surveyed across the UK and guidance from child psychologist Laverne Antrobus. It is published by Sky Arts to coincide with the launch of Access All Arts week, a new nationwide arts initiative for primary schools taking place until June 10th.

Educators have long believed that the arts can help shape and define who children are, fuelling their imagination and igniting their creativity. After a period in which every child’s access to the arts has been severely restricted, owing to closures of schools and arts institutions, exposure to and interaction with the arts has never been more important.

Access All Arts week, developed in partnership with leading artists and arts organisations, from poet Benjamin Zephaniah to author Liz Pichon, provides free resources for teachers to take their classes on a week-long creative adventure across five forms of artistic expression.

To mark the launch of Access All Arts week, Sky Arts has taken the concept of a RDA, well-understood in the context of nutrition, and applied it to the arts to help children get their five-a-day – from reading their favourite books at home to dancing in their classroom.

Antrobus commented: “Having the opportunity to paint, to dance, to write poetry has huge wellbeing benefits for a young child, helping them to develop self-confidence and a positive self image. Access to the arts helps to build creative skills which are likely to be in demand later in life – for example, problem-solving and imagination. The idea of a Recommended Daily Allowance for the arts is a brilliant way to put a simple framework around the importance it holds for children and their development.”

The research conducted also looked into specific arts disciplines, which break down the total RDA as follows:

  • The RDA for literature (including reading, making up stories/creative writing, reading and writing poems) – is 17 minutes per day, or 1 hour 59 minutes per week
  • The RDA for art (including drawing, painting, crafts, colouring) – is 14 minutes per day, or 1 hour 38 minutes per week
  • The RDA for music (including singing, playing an instrument, listening to music) – is 12 minutes per day or 1 hour 24 minutes per week
  • The RDA for drama (including acting, directing, writing a script, reading a play, going to the cinema or theatre, watching a play) – is 11 minutes per day or 1 hour 17 minutes per week
  • The RDA for dance (including taking part in any type of dance from tap and ballet to street dance, watching dancing, making up/choreographing their own dances) – is 11 minutes per day or 1 hour 17 minutes per week

The research also revealed that in the experience of primary school teachers surveyed, the children they teach tend to on average engage most with art, followed by music, dancing, drama and finally literature

Additional research surveying 1,000 parents of primary school age children, conversely found that literature, including reading, making up stories and writing poems, is the number one activity that parents would like their child to spend more time doing outside of school, with almost one third (32 per cent) of parents acknowledging this.

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, says: “Access All Arts week has brought as many artists and arts organisations as possible together to create fun, interactive resources for teachers. We’re committed to helping them create inspiring lessons for their pupils and to supplement the brilliant job that they already do in this area. We know that access to creative pursuits enhances a child’s prospects whatever they choose to do in later life, so fighting the good fight for making arts accessible to all is vital. Our ‘Arts RDA’ gives a simple, initial framework for how young children could spend each day creatively. We’re keen to look at this area further, with the lens of a five a day model, as we move forward with our education initiatives.”

Singer, dancer and actress Kimberley Walsh has also joined forces with Sky Arts to drive awareness of Access All Arts Week and Sky Arts’ ongoing commitment to increase access to the arts amongst all young people.

Walsh added: “The arts were such an important part of my life growing up, whether it was singing with a hairbrush to Kylie, dancing with my sisters or performing plays in front of the family. I think it’s great that Sky Arts is doing so much to make sure that every child across every part of the country has the same opportunities to access the arts and I really love the idea of the ‘Arts RDA’.”

Access All Arts Week is available to all primary school teachers and children in the UK and Ireland.

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