You thought Prokofiev’s famous Dance of the Knights was all about Lord Sugar and his apprentices didn’t you? No? Men in ballet tights? Or maybe if you’re a Star Trek fan, Romulans in ballet tights?
Well before you start parading round singing “Romulans and Capulets” let me put you straight because no no no. As the lovely people at CBeebies Radio, a lot of children under the age of 6, Robert the Robot and I all know, this piece of music is, in fact, all about a grumpy marmalade cat and a teeny tiny mouse… in the rain.
Did you see the CBeebies Prom on television on August 25th? (still on BBC i-player) Those lovely people have an extra special treat for you to freely download at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/prom/radio/cbeebies-prom-extra Your little ones (and you) can do-si-do and round up imaginary cattle on imaginary horses, thanks to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra’s special recording of Aaron Copland’s Hoedown before settling down to hear their recording of Prokofiev’s famous march and Robert The Robot’s beautiful telling of a story it inspired me to write; a thrilling tale of life and death excitement in the back garden: “Past the pond, round the rockery; round the rockery, past the pond.”
Hear the cat “Slink and prow-wl,
And pounce and grow-wl…” in the music.
And can you hear the young mouse showing off?
“I’m so fast,
The orange thing
With clawy paws
Won’t catch me!…”
While overhead a blackbird cries in alarm “Run! Run! Run! Run!”
Goodness I had fun writing this story. I hope that you and your younglings have fun listening to it.
…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.
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?