The Courtauld Institute of Art’s young people’s programme is unusual in its function compared to most other galleries. The Courtauld itself has two sides: the Gallery that holds a world-renowned collection spanning 900 years, and The Institute which is the leading centre for the study of art history in the UK. It is this meeting of a gallery and higher education that gives the young people’s programme a specific framework to work within. Known as ‘widening participation’ within the UK higher education sector, this has become one of the key aims of The Courtauld’s new Public Programmes Department since it was established in June 2007. This aim is that not only art and culture should be available to everyone whatever their economic background or personal circumstances, but studying at The Courtauld should be within all young people’s reach.
As a small, single-subject university teaching art history, which is mainly absent from state school curricula, The Courtauld Institute of Art faces an unusual challenge in its widening participation programme. Taking on this challenge we have a number of programmes including Art History Beyond London. Established in 2012, this programme builds partnerships with schools and FE colleges outside London. The sessions are designed to raise awareness of contemporary art history, at the same time as promoting The Courtauld as a potential university destination. They are held in part at schools and in part at local art galleries including Nottingham Contemporary, Site Gallery, and Manchester Art Gallery. Twenty students attended the pilot of this programme, held in Nottingham, and I am now happy to report that two students from this took up a place on the BA course in September 2013, and another will begin in September 2014.
One of these students wanted to talk to you about her experience of the Art History Beyond London programme, so here she is!
I first heard about The Courtauld Institute of Art through my History of Art A level course at New College Nottingham after discovering that many of the artworks I was studying were at The Courtauld Gallery. I later experienced the Institute itself through The Courtauld’s outreach programme, Art History Beyond London, a number of workshopsheld at New College Nottingham. The day included learning the methodologies of art history, how to read an image,a curation mini-task and visit to Nottingham Contemporarywhere I was exposed to video artist’s Mika Rottenberg’s video art. Her exploration of capitalism’s cruelties, closed communities and the hardship experienced by labourers in a world of globalisation drew me further into the concepts in modern art.
The day was a rare opportunity to speak to a representative from The Courtauld to understand not just the possibilities that The Courtauld Institute can offer but also gave me a stronger grasp of what it could be like to study art history at a higher level in general.
After this, I attended the Insights into Art History workshop at the Courtauld Institute itself. This was a wonderful experience that confirmed my new ambitions. It was great to be able to experience a real university lecture and seminar session. We also received interview and personal statement advice.
Ultimately, the partnership between New College Nottingham and The Courtauld gave me the knowledge and confidence that I needed to pursue my current course. I also believe it has not just benefited those of us that have directly applied to The Courtauld or even a history of art degree but to others applying for other various subjects. History of art in itself is a multidisciplinary subject and I believe the study day taught us all valuable skills in critical, verbal and visual analysis amongst others. The leaders were not at all intimidating despite coming from such a prestigious institute; they were encouraging and the support provided on these workshops gave me the confidence I needed to continue on to higher education.
Meghan Goodeve, Young People’s Programme Coordinator (job-share with Alice Odin) & Art History Beyond London alumna and current BA student at The Courtauld.
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