Cultivating a strong department profile can be a great way to insure greater numbers of students better funding and ultimately more opportunities for you and your students within your school or college and the wider community.
Diana Brooke at Ysgol Sir Thomas Picton School, Pembrokeshire runs an innovative and lively Art Department which works hard to maintain a variety of annual activities and external connections all feeding in to their curriculum. To help trigger ideas Diana has put together a list of constructive points.
1. Set up an art website or blog
An online presence for prospective students, local feeder schools and local community. Websites are a brilliant platform for outstanding work and kids love to be published on it.
2. Gallery and Display Spaces
Develop a permanent gallery space in school where artwork can be showcased and changed regularly. Our gallery the ‘Oriel STP’ is also used for important meetings so lots of people get to see the work.
3. Study Trips
Have annual visits to cultural centres. Large galleries in large cities are exciting and worth while if you can secure the time but it’s very important to support local institutions and small local galleries. Galleries can only benefit from good connections with local art departments and visa versa.
4. Visiting Artists
Invite artists in the school to speak to students and demonstrate their practice. Workshops are a brilliant on lots of levels and feed into students understanding of how an artist can make a living and operate in the community.
5. Local Business
Establish relationships with printers, galleries and framers. Advertising in school publications can be a good exchange for any discounts or freebies.
Organise shows with local art galleries and, where you can, offer prize money as an incentive. We managed to buy etching press last year through fund raising.
7. Art kits
Sell ‘Art kits’ to your groups. Try to use the best art resources when money allows. We use Turners in Matlock for really good stuff and deals. This can be a small part of raising students profile and approach to their work, in turn may feed into retention and success rates.
Train students to use sketchbooks from the moment they step into the department. Try to convey the department ethos and demands before the AS year starts through letters, emails or open days.
If you are part of a creative department, develop a confident team with a positive group ethos. This can be infectious and help raise your department’s game!