Dartington College of Arts is threatened with closure. This centre for artistic innovation, recently ranked in the top 10 of the Art & Design Guardian University Guide 2008, is now fighting for its survival. The merger and transfer of the college to Falmouth is a high-risk strategy.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KEEP DARTINGTON COLLEGE OF ARTS OPEN, ONSITE?
Small specialist colleges like Dartington are being shut all over the country. Such closures will be a disaster both for the arts and for the economy.
All over the country small specialist education institutions are being shut down. Experimentation, creative innovation and thriving communities of practice are essential to foster the next generation of British Artists. The closure of small artistic communities, the very places where this occurs, will have a huge impact on the quality of the Arts in the UK. Dartington College of Art is a beacon of artistic experimentation, and was recently ranked in the top 10 of the Guardian University Guide 2008. Itsí closure (or transferral and incorporation into a large general institution) will be a blow for creativity in the UK
Britainís economy is increasingly dependant on creative potential and capital, which play a major role in the UKís world-class status in creativity. Creative industries grew by an average of 9% per annum between 1997 and 2000 compared to 2.8% for the whole of the economy over this period The existence of small specialist colleges, and institutional diversity with the HE sector play an essential role in fostering such creativity. The closure of centres of artistic experimentation and innovation such as Dartington (or their incorporation into larger institutions) will be to the detriment of the UKís creative economy.
The closure of Dartington will have a huge negative social and economic impact on the local economy.
The closure of the college will have severe social and economic impacts on the local community, costing the local town, Totnes, £4.7 million. The closure of Dartington is symptomatic of the withdrawal of services and closure of institutions throughout the British countryside such as schools and post offices. The closure of Dartington College of Arts will be a further blow to those struggling to survive in the British countryside.
There was a lack of due process in the decision to close Dartington. It was initiated by a new principal, taken with irresponsible haste, with no local consultation, and without exploring all the options for keeping it onsite.
The decision to move was initiated by a new principal. Despite the impact the closure will have on the local community, they have not been consulted. The local council, many local businesses and residents are against the move.
Opposition to the move within the college has been stifled. In March of this year they fired the longest standing tutor at the college, who been there for 30 years, because of a satirical article he wrote about the college principal. Other staff members talk of being intimidated and many are now afraid to speak out
Meeting the challenge of keeping the college onsite could mark the begin of an exciting new vibrant phase in the life of Dartington
There is clearly a need to generate further funds to keep Dartington College of Arts open. Dartington Trust is now looking for new projects to fill the space the closure of the College. They talk of the importance of vibrancy, experimentation and innovation.
Given that the College of Arts fulfils all of these, doesnít it make sense to take the time to explore all the possible financial options to keep the College onsite, rather than rush through its closure, and then have to begin from scratch?