Tate Modern is hosting a free pop-up art school in its Switch House space, in collaboration with students and alumni of Central Saint Martins.
Visitors will be able to attend workshops, lectures and classes that aim to highlight the current crisis facing arts education in schools. The scheme also forms part of a wider drive to make the gallery more accessible to the general public.
Some of the highlights on offer include a fashion show with clothes made from recycled street rubbish found in London, and a discussion event on women in art. “This is an exchange between what the public brings and what we bring to the conversation,” said Anna Cutler, Tate’s Director of Learning. “Our visitors carry their own culture with them and can use museums and galleries as creative spaces for exploring what that means.”
It’ll be impossible to ignore the government plans that are currently threatening the future of how arts subjects will be taught in UK schools, from cuts to local galleries’ outreach programmes to schools’ prioritisation of STEM subjects. According to The Art Newspaper, the government will soon be excluding art and other creative subjects from the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) – a new performance measure that will be awarded to students who achieve high GCSE grades in more ‘traditional’ academic subjects. In response, many schools have withdrawn creative subjects from their curriculums.
Alex Schady, fine art programme leader at Central Saint Martins, said: “The threat to arts education is the umbrella issue underpinning our project this week at Tate Modern. Now is a good time to put a spotlight on arts education; it is crucial that the arts are a mainstay of the curriculum, we need daring thinkers from diverse backgrounds. There have been dramatic drops in people taking up art A-level.”
Similarly, the event description on the Tate Modern website reads: “We are concerned that in the current economic and political climate there is a systematic assault on arts education in the UK.”
The pop-up art school is part of the Tate Exchange programme, which has seen the gallery collaborate with the Open University to explore migration issues, and with ex-servicemen in a study of homelessness.