$ 1 million Prize used to create an organization to get artists into schools –
Here, on insperatus.org, we’ll give notice of cases that show us that there are many good things happening in the world. These are unexpected and original situations that are happening in the realm of human affairs and that can help everyone to be creative in the world! We want to facilitate and inspire the presentation and discussion about situations that can create a different common world, with many senses, many layers of meanings and a better future,
One case that caught our attention was that of teacher Andria Zafirakou who won a $ 1 million prize in the world’s best teachers competition (Varkey Foundation global teacher prize), and she will use this unexpected money to get artists into schools. According to an article in The Guardian newspaper1, the art teacher at a public school in North London “could have paid off her mortgage, bought a Ferrari and put her feet up for the rest of her life.” Instead, the teacher has announced she is using the money “to set up a campaigning charity to get more artists and arts organisations into Britain’s schools.”
“Many will see it as an extraordinary act of altruism given there were no obligations attached to the prize money. “If this was the lottery it would have been a different situation, but it’s not the lottery,” Zafirakou said. “This is something I won because I’m a teacher so it’s right to give it back to the profession.” She said she felt her award recognised the importance of arts education in schools and society. “When you have kids who are not picking up arts because they do not know what the jobs are or don’t realise the value of it, that’s when alarm bells ring and you have to do something.””
“Surrounded by pupils, teachers, family and supporters including Simon Schama, Melvyn Bragg, the musician Naughty Boy and the artist Mark Wallinger (of whom we reproduce here an image of a work that we like very much), Zafirakou launched her charity, Artists in Residence, at her place of work for the past 12 years, Alperton community school in Brent, and said she wanted to bring about a classroom revolution.(…)
Simon Schama, a professor of art history at Columbia University in the US, said Zafirakou was a force of nature and he was happy to be an artist-in-residence at Alperton. “When you have been dealing for a very long time with precociously over-educated graduate students, it’s fantastically thrilling to come to a school like this.” He said it was a mistake to see arts and music in schools as a luxury or an add-on. “It is an indispensable centre. What will remain of us when AI takes over will be our creativity, and it is our creative spirit, our visionary sense of freshness, which has been Britain’s strength for centuries.””
We expect to have many other unexpected situations like this to be able to tell everyone again, because these are the things that remind us why it is worth trying to change the world. Bring also cases like this one, we’d love to know about it.
Filipe Novais, Porto, Europe.
Image: Mark Wallinger; SITE Featuring Construction Site, 2012 (detail) ©the artist, Anthony Reynolds Gallery and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle. ©Colin Davison.
1. The Guardian newspaper, “Teacher who won $1m will use windfall to get artists into schools”, Mark Brown Arts correspondent, 26 Jun 2018. London.