President Michael D Higgins celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Benson report with others in the Seamus Heaney theatre on St. Patrick’s campus last Thursday.
‘The Place of the Arts in Irish Education’ report was published by Ciarán Benson who gave a lecture at the event and focused on the importance of the arts in young people’s lives.
“I think it was one of the most extraordinary, valuable and rich lectures I’ve heard in a very very long time,” said President of Ireland and former Minister for the Arts Michael D. Higgins.
Higgins spoke about some of the topics that that Benson touched on in his lecture such as how knowledge can “relate to experience and how both of them still leave us able to live fully human lives and the rule of the arts in it.”
In 1979 Professor Benson wrote the report after the Arts Council of Ireland believed there needed to be an in-depth examination of the influence of the arts in the education system.
The report showed the strengths and weaknesses of arts in the education system and furthermore provided “the first blueprint for the arts in Irish education,” according to Higgins.
It’s only beginning. You could double the budgets
“One of the things I chaired at the beginning was a thing called City Arts Centre in the 80’s right in the centre of Dublin. We had music studios down below and that was funded from the U2 concert then. That’s donkeys years back. But now they’ve put in more money that’s matched the Department of Education,” said Benson as he spoke about how much has changed for the arts in Ireland and how much outside contribution is valued.
DCU President Brian MacCraith stated thought the lecture set the scene for all those who try to incorporate the arts into education.”
DCU were the hosts, however the event was organised by Encountering the Arts in Ireland (ETAI), in association with the Arts Council of Ireland and DCU Institute of Education.
“We have this commitment to the arts and culture, focusing on North Dublin culture,” said MacCraith on why the event was hosted by DCU.
“Art should really be highlighted in school more than it is now,” said a school girl from Larkin Community College who made the point during the lecture that many students must still choose between art and science.
The budget for the arts in Ireland is approximately budget for the arts in Ireland is approximately 15 million.
Image Credit: DCU Twitter