Letter: Cinematic arts due greater recognition

We write an open letter to Michael Russell, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for education and lifelong learning to request that moving image arts be available as a national qualification for all secondary school pupils in Scotland.

In 1947, the Edinburgh International Film Festival was set up because its founders believed that it was a grave omission not to include film in a festival of the arts.

This omission of the "seventh art" has been replicated within the Scottish school system, leaving Scotland as the only home nation with no general educational qualifications in moving image arts. As there is currently a major curriculum and certification review, it seems timely to consider this omission.

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As recently as May 2010, Gill Stewart, director of qualifications development at the Scottish Qualifications Authority, said that one question to be considered is that there should be "a generic creative arts course, which cuts across drama, art and design and dance". Such statements are concerning as they seem to be evidence of a continued bias against moving image study.

At the same time, there is a major change in the institutional infrastructure with Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council being merged into Creative Scotland. Here we have an institutional shift which promises to place moving image along with the other arts and, as part of its remit, promote the knowledge and appreciation of all the arts.

We recognise that the SQA already provides vocational national certificates in video and film production for those seeking employment in the media industries. But what we ask is that national qualifications be available to all school pupils so that they can gain full appreciation of the workings and pleasures of cinematic art.

Consequently, we respectfully ask that a working group be set up to consider the place of moving image study within the curriculum and certification system.

Mark Cousins, writer-director, 81/2 Foundation; Tilda Swinton, actor, the 81/2 Foundation; Kevin McDonald, director; Douglas Gordon, artist and filmmaker; Seamus McGarvey, cinematographer; Lynne Ramsay, writer-director; Emma Davie, Edinburgh College of Art; Prof Christine Geraghty, University of Glasgow; Prof Dina Iordanova, University of St Andrews; Prof John Izod, University of Stirling; Prof Robin MacPherson, Napier University; Prof John Orr, University of Edinburgh; Rick Instrell, media literacy consultant