Our court shall be a little Academe,
Still and contemplative in living art.
A number of current projects involve liaison with Universities in the hope of shaping common creative developmental ground with arts organisations and creative enterprises. A tour round the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) new Ayr Campus last week with Prof. Malcolm Foley revealed a simply astonishing array of television, radio and music facilities. But how to connect this up with the local creative economy, and how to connect students with an industry whose heart lies so far away?
These challenges are hardly new. Years ago, when I worked at the Laban Centre (in a role that, in retrospect, was mainly restoring students after choreography class annihilation), I was constantly struck by the mismatch between supply and demand in the dance job market. Later collaborations with Further Education in regeneration initiatives led to some anxiety about the overall quality of educational experience of young students attracted to, say, music and technology courses. Campus university arts facilities like Warwick have to work hard if they are to connect to their local community.
It is reassuring that connecting students into both industry and society is now heading up the academic agenda. I was really impressed by Dani Salvadori’s presentation of Central St Martins graduate programme with local commissioners at last year’s Creative Entrepreneurship conference in Tallinn. This year both Northampton University’s ambitions for social enterprise driven student opportunities and Dundee’s creative campus vision are but two examples of initiatives that have great potential to provide a platform for education and learning collaboration that delivers growth and jobs for students and established professionals.
Image: Stuart Hepburn & Jill Cronin at UWS’s new Ayr campus