Cla Logo
Shutterstock 585806345 Scaled

Latest thinking

Will Artificial Intelligence bring an end to the arts and education?

Baz Ramaiah, Head of Policy at the Centre for Education and Youth – and CLA Policy Associate – reflects on the rapid expansion in the impact of AI and what that means for the Arts in Schools.

Society has witnessed a rapid expansion in the accessibility and power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in the creative industries. In the space of two years, the world has witnessed the emergence of AI platforms such as ChatGPT being seemingly capable of composing sonnets on any topic in a few seconds; Midjourney transforming words and images into AI-generated art to match any specification; and Sora just starting to be able to produce video content to meet any brief. Against this background, it’s perhaps no wonder that the BBC screened a short documentary in summer 2023 that asked whether artificial intelligence is heralding the ‘death of art’ itself.

In parallel, AI has begun to play an increasing role in schools and education. AI-based platforms are currently being used as ‘virtual assistants’ by teachers to design lesson plans, teaching resources, and to assess pupils’ work. We might wonder whether AI also heralds the ‘death of teaching’ itself. 

But the rumours of the death of art and teaching may be much exaggerated. In particular, CLA follows a large number of industry experts who believe that AI will not destroy the creative industries or teaching, but will instead change both in ways that will place a greater importance on the Expressive Arts in schools – for three connected reasons: 

  • AI will not replace artists and creatives – but it will change what creative jobs involve 
  • AI will also change how other industries work
  • The consequence of these changes will be a need for a renewed approach towards the Expressive Arts in schools

AI will not replace artists and creatives – but it will change what creative jobs involve

Disputes over the potential for AI technologies to replace artists and creatives have reached fever pitch recently, with extended strikes from writers and actors in America in response to the threat that AI poses to their jobs.

However, analysts have expressed scepticism that AI technologies will abolish creative jobs for three reasons: 

  • It is worth noting that the advent of new technologies has often changed the creative process throughout history. A report for the European Parliament noted that the invention of photography created a new artistic medium, but also progressed visual artists on from painting portraits to exploring other media. Nevertheless, paintings and portraits still exist. As such, there is good historical reason to believe that AI will only change the way artists work, rather than replacing them. 
  • report from The World Economic Forum noted that many leaders in the creative industries recognise the limited commercial viability of work produced exclusively by AI technologies, noting that the presence of artists and artistic choices will always be a central and essential part of why humans choose to experience art. 
  • A team at The University of Oxford examined practices within the creative industries and found that creatives are adapting their workflows to get the most out of AI technologies. This includes drawing on AI to generate new ideas, sort through sketches and drafts, and conceptualise new modes and media for presenting art to audiences. The value of being able to use new AI technologies to augment and extend the artistic process has resulted in the skills in using these technologies being desired in industry, changing the shape of what creative jobs already look like.

Considering this evidence, it seems unlikely that AI will replace artists or creatives – however, it will change some of the skills required to work in those industries. Some have even argued that AI technologies may make the creative professions more accessible, especially to those with disabilities.

AI will also change how other industries work

‘Great replacement’ worries about machines and AI have been in the public consciousness for decades. However, the history of technological development suggests that the development of AI is more likely to change the kinds of work that we do, rather than replacing us as workers entirely. This will take at least two forms: 

  • report by the Learning and Work Institute finds that AI-driven automation will affect 30% of current jobs. This is especially the case for lower technical skilled jobs. This will mean demand for higher technical skills will massively increase in the coming decades in many industries – from manufacturing, to healthcare and the creative industries. 
  • separate report for the Learning and Work Institute also finds that the pace of development of AI technologies will mean that individuals entering the workforce today should expect to engage in more regular in-service training and retraining than has been the case historically. This will likely involve retraining to enter different professions or different sectors entirely. The consequence is that it is vital that new entrants to the workforce arrive with the skills and readiness to be able to engage in lifelong learning.

The consequences of these changes will be need for a renewed approach towards the Expressive Arts in schools

CLA has long argued that young people should have access to a high-quality arts education because it brings joy, value, and meaning to their lives as developing citizens. However, we have also long argued that arts education is also about supporting the skills pipeline for the UK economy.

With the demands of industry changing, there are at least three reasons why the Expressive Arts must be given a renewed and greater prominence in education: 

  • The expansion of AI places a greater premium on what AI technologies cannot do, but what humans can do extremely well – be authentically creative. As Rose Luckin, Professor of Learning Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab, argues, the role of AI in the workplace means that there will need to be a greater focus on teaching creativity and the creative subjects in schools to create the core skills that will be most in need in the future workforce. 
  • As AI will require lifelong upskilling and reskilling, it is important to ensure that young people enter the workforce with a readiness to engage in this lifelong learning. The government’s own research highlights that one of the main determinants of whether an adult chooses to pursue mid-career learning opportunities is their experience of education in general. In particular, if they have had a positive experience of education (including associating education with stimulation, challenge and joy) then they are more likely to decide to pursue lifelong learning opportunities. As a
    consequence, it is vital that we make school a positive experience for young people. Surveys of young people highlight that the Expressive Arts are a key source of joy in schools, with the diminishing role of the arts in education perhaps associated with falls in young people’s enjoyment of school. As such, a greater role for the arts in schools could be a vital means of supporting the lifelong learning mindset that the workforce of the future will require. 
  • Once the Expressive Arts have the place and prominence in school that the economy demands, there might need to be some consideration of the creative skills that young people acquire. For example, The Harvard Business Review notes that young people may have to develop skills in working with AI-based technologies for creative purposes – such as “prompt engineering” – to understand how best to feed information into AI engines.


The greater role of Artificial Intelligence in civic and economic life poses many questions and challenges. However, it also poses several opportunities. In particular, for CLA, it suggests new pathways for restoring the central role for the Expressive Arts within school life that young people need and deserve.