Under the influence of the contemporary world, art is constantly undergoing changes. But does its role in the lives of young individuals also change? Stefani Angelova from the First English Language High School in Varna talked with Sia Papazova – artistic director of Youth Theater “The Golden Key” in Municipality Children Complex – Varna about the importance of the arts for young people and the danger of drowning in a sea of mediocrity
In a recent article you wrote about “the matrix” – what exactly did you mean and why do you think art teachers are the ones who can stand against it?
“Consume!” is the motto of the time we live in – trends dictate everything we do, the music we listen to, the things we buy, the clothes we wear. Nowadays, consumerism has managed to project itself even in the arts – product advertisements in movies and sponsor commercials in books are something that we shouldn’t – but have gotten used to – seeing. The material manipulation is subconsciously controlling everyone, especially the young people – this is the matrix which aims to turn the individual into a consumer. Against the matrix stand the arts – they possess the spirit and morality which we, the teachers of arts, nourish and pass on to the young generations to teach them to question the world of manipulation and escape the consumerism.
What will happen to the arts in the future – will they be forgotten with the advancing of artificial intelligence?
With the huge development of science and technology comes the question “Will art disappear?” But don’t worry, it will never disappear! It will adapt. When the radio was invented, the fate of theatre was uncertain, but then the radio theatre came to life. When television was invented, the TV plays came along short after! There is nothing to be afraid of – the arts will find their place among technology. Online books are a fact, who knows, we may expect hologram plays in the future! (laughs)
What is the role of humanism in the arts and what is the role of art teachers nourishing their students with it?
Out of all “–isms” our society has gone through, from the ancient times to this day, humanism has been and always will be the salvation for humanity – the lifeboat which every person invested in some form of art has to get on and use it to sale to their freedom. This in no way stands against science – on the contrary, the more technology advances, the bigger the need for the humanities. And what creates and brings up the humane individual? Art, of course. This is the mission of the art teacher – to pass on the legacy of the great philanthropists such as Dickens, Zola, Dostoevsky. Humanity needs to learn how to love and how to be loved now more than ever, as it is standing on the verge of such a bright and beautiful technological future.
What should a young person hope to gain from attending an arts club? As a teacher, what is your most important role in an individual’s education?
The school system has been built to create the “average” person – a future consumer and slave to society. It does not support the young artistic people, it does not recognise and acknowledge them and there is a risk that we as teachers may fail to notice those individuals on time before they drown in the sea of mediocrity. That is why we try everything we can to rebel against that system, to find the promising souls who possess the talent to create and inspire, and to encourage them to use that talent to make a difference in the world. We search for the strange, extraordinary – the gifted individual, whom to pass the legacy of making art. Because only such person can play Hamlet, King Lear, Richard II – characters who are far from the average and mundane, characters who have escaped society’s manipulation and are fighting against it.
In your article you write about the so-called “Generation Z” which currently is the body of the clubs of arts. Is this generation our hope for a better future?
While our generation used to mindlessly memorise each and every fact about the world, the new “Generation Z” has the freedom to select the “files” that fill the “drawers” of its memory as it has constant access to the entire library of human civilisation with just one click! The thing we must remember is that the process of making any kind of art isn’t about fitting files in drawers – it all comes down to nature and from nature, which the young people have the opportunity to discover for themselves and to master, now more than ever before! The “Z Generation” is a wonderful, capable generation, unbound from previous restrictions and norms, and if taught in empathy and humanism – if taught in the highest examples of art, it can achieve greatness!