A Warning to Little Shrews
Winston the cat
Is big, black and fat.
But his mew is so cute,
You’d never guess he’s a brute
Who likes to kill rats
And other tom cats.
He curls on the chair
With a warm sleepy stare.
But when you think he’s at rest,
He’s at his cruel, vicious best.
So little shrew beware:
Winston knows that you’re there.
He’s watching you peep
And feel safe and then creep
To the fridg- Bam! goes his paw
As he strikes with his claw
And sinks his teeth deep
And eats even your squeap!
Please note: ‘Squeap’ is the sound a shrew makes as it disappears in one big gollop into a big black fat cat. There’s no time for squealing and or squeaking – the k gets swallowed. Trust me.
…was this submission, on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts, to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children. The APPG for Children is conducting a year long investigation around the question “Are Children Getting What They Want?”. Jocelyn Stevenson and I wrote this paper answering the question from a children’s media and arts perspective.
The results of the inquiry will be published later in the spring and you can read the whole of our report on the Children’s Media Foundation website. But to briefly summarise… Are children getting what they ‘want’ in terms of arts and media?
With little more than 1% of public funding for the arts directed at the children’s audience, despite the under-18s comprising 15% of the UK population, with fewer and fewer courses training specialist arts teachers, with current Education policy devaluing art, with libraries closing, the answer is NO. In terms of media, despite so many hours of dedicated children’s viewing, only 1% is brand spanking new UK content. And of that 1% very little editorial diversity or opportunity to reflect the rich variety of childhood experience. So no: children are not getting the opportunities they want, need or deserve to participate fully in cultural and artistic life.
Of course we say it a lot more eloquently than that in the paper and quote Nelson Mandela and Horton the Elephant. Which of course fills me with great pleasure and hope that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children will not only continue to support our campaigns, but increase the pressure for change.
For the first time in several years, the world of children’s media have things to celebrate this Christmas.
– The Animation and Games tax relief which will help our production sector compete with the rest of the world and ensure more home grown content for our children.
– Ofcom and the ASA’s swift implementation of the Bailey review’s recommendations, which will help put the brakes on the sexualisation and commercialisation of our children
– www.parentport.org.uk, which offers parents one-stop access to all the UK’s media regulators.
However, there are still many challenges in 2013, especially for Children’s theatre, fine arts, music and dance which have been endangered by changes in Education and cuts to public arts funding.
So whether you and your family settle down to watch the BBC’s Christmas Doctor Who, or C4’s The Snowman and The Snowdog, or watch a performance of The Nutcracker, or your local pantomime, please remember that Children’s Arts and Media are not just for Christmas….
With all good wishes for a peaceful and prosperous New Year,
Been doing a spot of Morpurgoing recently. Sat in on Michael Parkinson’s Sky Arts masterclass with the lovely man a few weeks ago, for which there was much raiding of daughter’s bookshelf for stories like Kensuke’s Kingdom, War Horse, The Butterfly Lion, and being inspired by his autobiography.
Then last week Mr Morpurgo spoke at the Action For Children’s Arts Conference at the Unicorn Theatre. Such an inspirational, entertaining man. And impassioned. He spoke up for literacy. But not just simplistic, measurable reading and writing: “20% of children leave school unable to read. And of the 80% that can, few are theatre goers, book readers etc. So most are denied Freedom of Expression and the unfettered seeking of truth that awakens our creativity.”
The ACA’s paper, “Putting Children First” states that despite childen under 12 comprising 15% of the population only 1% of public funding for the arts is directed to their needs. 600 libraries have had to close. As Michael Morpurgo said, “The oxygen of freedom of thought and expression that children could access is being denied.”
How can that be fulfilling articles 17, 29 or 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?