Is there one?
Public Debate: The Future of Art Education
Ikon Gallery, generic Birmingham
Monday 6 October 2008, sales 6.30pm
A debate about the future of art education is raging on the pages of Art Monthly. In October readers will have the opportunity to come along and put their questions to our panel of educational professionals and policy makers. The panel will debate the future of art education – is further privatisation, unhealthy corporatisation and instrumentalism inevitable or are there alternatives?
Read all the articles from this debate at
1968 and all that
Will the 40th anniversary of the 1968 protests inspire today’s students to demand radical improvements in art education?
Students at the London College of Communication have had enough and have officially registered their dissatisfaction by demanding the return of their fees in protest at staff shortages and the lack of organisation. Staff, for their part, are over-burdened by bureaucracy, rising student numbers, low pay and low self-esteem. Vice chancellors, meanwhile, are focused on corporate-style branding and the commissioning of gleaming new buildings. The legacies of St Martins School of Art in the 60s, or Goldsmiths in the 80s, should serve as reminders that it is not buildings that make for a dynamic teaching environment but people.
Extract from editorial April 2008
The sad truth about art education today is that New Labour has finished what Thatcher started
Ironically, Thatcher’s plans for factory-style education were only to be truly achieved under New Labour. It was the setting up of the dreaded inquisition, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), by the first New Labour government in 1998, barely one year after the election, which made the institutionalisation of what Stephen Lee in his letter aptly describes as ‘educational Taylorism’ possible. The QAA, and its spawn, the Teaching Quality Assurance (TQA), became the means by which the product, broken down into bite-sized pieces as a result of the imposition of American-style modularisation, could be tested. Since the government had already begun to refer to the arts as the ‘creative industries’, a term first coined when Labour was still in opposition, this must have seemed like a perfect fit between the so-called ‘aims’ and ‘outcomes’ of an art education.
Extract from editorial May 2008
Can’t Get No Satisfaction
Anyone considering studying fine art (at undergraduate level) in England and Wales should google the National Student Satisfaction Survey, particularly the Results By Institution. Six of the bottom ten are or were art schools. Bottom of the survey, that is to say the ‘least satisfactory’, is the University of the Arts London. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has studied or taught there recently.
Extract from letter by Graham Crowley published in April 2008
I can appreciate the current state of educational Taylorism and the overbearing, corporate-style management that Graham Crowley describes. The corporate model is a powerful one. It tends to be one-dimensional and seamless, where accountability and success can be clearly measured. To understand the impact of the corporatisation of art schools it’s important, I think, to examine the language or jargon used to organise and disseminate learning, then look at the extent to which fine art students adopt this language. Fine art graduates talk of promotion and marketing, or finding a niche market for their work. If a critic writes about a graduate student’s work, the artist may not necessarily see this as participation in an independent critical arena. On the contrary it’s likely they may see it as an opportunity to gain an additional promotional tool with which to market their work. My point is that the corporate model is pervasive in our wider culture industry
Extract from letter by Stephen Lee published in May 2008
Estelle Morris posed three questions for debate. ‘Will the structure in the paper – with all its committees – actually damage creativity? Will the accountability mechanisms jeopardise risk-taking? And, will mainstreaming discourage some people from wanting to work in the creative sector in the first place?’
Extract from report on the government’s new strategy document Creative Britain: New Talents for a New Economy published July-August 2008
Excellent sarcastic ‘Reader’s Digest’ version here and if you have atime to waste the full report linked off image
Debate panel will include representatives from Colleges, Unions and Government Departments.
This event is free but booking recommended
To book call 0121 248 0708