Last night I had an invitation to an annual education lecture that they run. The subject for the evening was ‘Education and the Arts’ and our speaker was Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, DBE.
I’m afraid Dame Judith lost my attention, I couldn’t understand what, if any, point she was making; beyond a long advert for the Royal Operal House. I found it akin to someone reading out their annual report; lots of stuff on what they do with children and young people and assertions that the Arts were an integral part of education and civilisation, but not much to demonstrate the claims.
I couldn’t help but note the irony as it just so happens that I used to be a bag carrier for an MP who sat on the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee back in the late 1990s, just when the Opera House was in the papers on an almost weekly basis. I remember my MP coming back from sessions with the management and governance teams fuming at how little they were prepared to do to extend their educational output despite the quite large amounts of public money they were asking for.
Now, of course, Dame Judith claims they are leading the world.
Perhaps the one interesting claim that Dame Judith made was that they were trying to compete with football for an audience. If so maybe there’s some learning to be done between the ROH and Millwall. Though I doubt that Millwall would be half as full if they were charging as much as the Opera House
So not an entirely satisfactory evening for me, but others seemed pleased enough.