Ex-students to bring Arts College back to life through new event

This press release has been reproduced here with kind permission of Soundart Radio

Eight years after its closure, ex-students are planning a celebratory festival to bring the world famous Dartington College of Arts back to life.

Dartington College of Arts is an internationally renowned progressive arts education institution founded in 1961. The Totnes site closed in 2010 following the merger and relocation to Falmouth University.

Festival organiser Sarah Gray, Director of Soundart Radio, who was the last Student Union President at the college said: “The closure of the college was heartbreaking and caused a wound that many feel needs healing.

“Since the college left, the local area has changed a lot. The Dartington Hall Estate and even Totnes town at first felt quiet, grey and ghost-like compared to the lively, vibrant atmosphere created by hundreds of young artists and musicians. There has been a lot of anger and sadness among people who went to the college and even those who didn’t.

“Years later, after organisational change at Dartington Hall Trust, it felt like the right time for this reunion to happen. There’s a sense that the Trust is more permissive and celebratory of its rich educational heritage”.

Stream press release Melanie Thompson_FINAL

Stream features work from artists including Melanie Thompson, above

The festival, which is supported by Dartington Hall Trust, is called Stream – an acronym for – a Series of Transdisciplinary Rituals and Experiments in Art and Music.

Amy Bere, Executive Director of Arts says: “The Dartington Hall Trust is thrilled to be supporting Stream and honour the incredible creative legacy of the Dartington College of Arts. Many of the artists and alumni returning for this event were deeply impacted by the closure of the art college, and this is a great way to honour their contribution to the estate and Trust. We are inspired on a daily basis by the history of arts at Dartington – and in particular the Arts College – as we develop our current arts programme. Supporting the Stream initiative is a small way of recognising the sadness of the closure and finding ways to move on. Our hope, with the team now in place at Dartington Hall Trust, is that we can build something new and wonderful in the arts, but never forget the great work that came before.”

This festival will provide a platform for alumni’s voices to be heard and the stories of the college to be shared whilst there is opportunity for us all to come together, from the earliest attendees to the final intake.

Sarah explains: “This is a chance for social celebration, professional networking and community catharsis. I want the alumni, from the very beginning to the end of the College’s history, to gather together and make change. I feel as a graduate and the last Student Union President in those final years of the College that our community has been dispersed and marginalised, even mythologized.”

Stream Festival is at Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon, September 7-9th 2018 – click here for full details and tickets.

And for those who can’t make it along for the weekend, Soundart Radio will broadcast recordings and conversations from the festival throughout on 102.5 fm in the local area and online.

The community radio station, which began life as a college project, has remained at Dartington, with support from the Dartington Hall Trust to reach listeners and volunteers in the area.

Soundart’s Artistic Director, Lucinda Guy says, “We launched in November 2006, in the same week that we heard the news about the College’s departure. In the first few years, we broadcast lots of student work, as well as the conversations, anxieties, arguments and protests that defined that time. As the staff and students moved away, we rummaged in skips for headed paper, books, photographs, art materials and other discarded items. Some of these will be on display at Stream in a pop-up memorial library. The opportunity to reconnect with alumni broadcast the work they are making today renews our own artistic purpose for the next 12 years.”

As Sarah says “Never before has there been a greater need for art in society. Equally, never before has there been less art provision. Our shared experience at Dartington College of Arts is bringing us together for this festival. As a community, we hope to create new energy around arts education for young people, families and society as a whole.”



7 thoughts on “Ex-students to bring Arts College back to life through new event

  1. Tremendous news I have such wonderful memories of my time at Dartington studying Arts in a social context, I come from a politicised working class background x I originally studied fine art at Chelsea School of Art, they liked me far more then I ever liked them. I hated absolutely every single moment I spent there, although my skills our stripped other people in my year, I felt alienated from those around me because my life experience was so vastly different to every one else … when I read the leaflet advertising Dartington I was thrilled at last there was a course I could relate to. My time at Dartington enabled me x has down the years enriched my life in so many ways that a conventional Arts training could never have achieved. I think it is wonderful that the trust is trying to forge links with its innovative progressive arts legacy … I just hope that this project goes from strength to strength

  2. Wonderful place, I did ‘half’ a Phd there. I’d gone for an interview to do my degree there I postponed the place while doing a foundation course, the course at darlington changed while doing that, and I ended up going to Nottingham Trent to do contemporary art and 20th Century music composition on the Contemporary Art Course (changed to Creative Arts later) That very innovative interdisciplinary course has closed down too. There was much too-ing and fro-ing between Darlington and Nottingham I loved the work that came from Darlington for EXPO festival, Now festival and in the City, I remember a couple of great pieces from a couple of darlington students who called themselves Lone Twin! later after a great MFA at reading University I moved to Devon and started a Phd at Darlington with the great Antonia P, Roger B, and Mark L as supervisors. It was as rigorous, courageous, passionate, innovative and inclusive as I had hoped it would be. I knew devastatingly that the battle had been lost and it’s effect would be widespread and I knew that I would need to finish my Phd somewhere else but I couldn’t give up the opportunity to study there. Needless to say the experience influences the art I make and darlington lives on in work made by it’s students. I now live in the South East but I wish you the best festival ever its so great to hear that the heart is coming back into Darlington and its celebrating its history and students. I will definitely be listening in.

    1. Apologies for typos it’s that old predictive text that always changed Dartington to Darlington. I didn’t check before posting. Must remember that!

  3. How exciting to hear Dartington is honouring it’s past, it’s hero’s of The Arts. Dartington sponsored so many great artists of Modernism, Barbara Hepworth and her family just one of many. The Elmhirst Family are often forgotten hero’s of our modern Arts.
    My very dear late friend William Elmhirst would be so excited to hear Of Dartingtons students meeting. William was my patron, buying my art here in Porlock, where he lived, Exmoor became his home. I feel honoured to have known paints and loved him. He sponsored my career as his parents for many others.. The Elmhirst work continues.. God bless I’m sure william is watching your progress.. Melody Hawtin of Porlock.

  4. Having come to the music summer school for the first time this year, at the age of 65, i was very sad to read of the closure of the college – I was “almost” a student there in the early 70’s. In a strange moment of deja vu, my room at summer school was on the same corridor as that I’d occupied when I came for my audition/interview all those years ago! for various reasons, I didn’t accept my place, but went instead to the London College of Dance & Drama. Some years after I’d attended, this college also lost its independence & was subsumed into a larger institution. A few years down the line, it just disappeared, to the great sadness of all who had been students. I fervently hope & pray that this doesn’t happen to Dartington college & applaud you for your efforts to keep the flame burning.

    1. thank you, Helen. Can you attend the event? If you can’t make it please tune in on Soundart Radio to hear the live stream of Stream!

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