UK’s Art History Exam Won’t Be Nixed for Being ‘Soft Subject’

Anish Kapoor, Jeremy Deller, and Nicholas Serota are celebrating the news.

Art History will remain available to study.

The Art History exam known as the ‘A-Level’ has been saved as a subject in UK schools and will be offered by the Pearson exam board, following a successful campaign by arts professionals across the board, with the support of the minister of State for digital and culture Matt Hancock.

The subject was criticized for being a niche, soft subject, and was slated to be cut as part of a series of reforms put in place by former education minister and Brexit campaigner Michael Gove. The controversial decision has led to an outcry from those working in the arts.

“As a working-class girl, receiving free school dinners, I studied art history. It has hugely enriched my life and career and hopefully those of countless students I passed the knowledge on to, during the 15 years I spent teaching at art school. I use references to art history all the time in my work, germs of knowledge that were planted in my impressionable mind at school,” artist Cornelia Parker said in a statement announcing the good news.

“Our museums are famous worldwide. They make the UK a prime cultural destination for tourists. Now more than ever, as we face Brexit, we have to fully understand what our cultural capital is and how we can best use it. We should be widening our cultural knowledge not shrinking it,” Parker continued.

Other leading figures spoke out in relief that the subject had been saved, emphasizing its breadth and value.

“Art history is a discipline that opens doors to history, geography, social and economic issues and aesthetics,” Tate director Nicholas Serota stated. “I am delighted that it will continue to be offered as an A-level for the benefit of young people in the future. We are grateful to the Department of Education and the Culture Minister for their work in making it happen,” he added.

Anish Kapoor added his voice to the fray, emphasizing the importance of the study of the poetic, while Jeremy Deller also spoke of his belief in the subject: “A good day for art and culture. Art history is the study of power, politics, identity and humanity, it makes perfect sense to keep the exam.”

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