So, hello, I’m Hannah – the Education Officer at SUArts. When I started my term in early July my predecessor Courtney lovingly handed over Arts Group to me, requesting that it was keep it alive. So here we are, on a shiny new WordPress saying hello and welcoming everyone to what will hopefully be an interesting year for the group.
For starter’s, here is a brief introduction to the group, for those of you that may not know what we’re (going/have been) all about: By ‘definition’ the Arts Group is a national lobbying and campaigning group representing creative students from several major arts institutions in the UK. The group has been active since summer 2009, covering campaigns including arts funding, unpaid internships and hidden course costs. As well as this, early movements in the group saw the meeting of the first National Student Art Summit; the meeting included visiting speakers, presentations and workshops – something which we aspire to run again.
With the reappearance of Arts Group, this year we want to call another meeting, inviting representatives from creative institutions across the UK to come and discuss current issues affecting our students and also more generally across the creative sector.
Ambitions for Arts Group in the foreseeable future are for student representation to grow onwards and upwards, allowing the group to become a strong and known platform for fundamental issues and concerns that specifically affect only arts students.
I will shortly be in touch with students’ union officers across the country calling for wider participation in the group; this will also include larger institutions that have art schools and faculty within them. The hope is that we can gain representation from each university that runs any kind of creative, design or performing course. This would benefit arts university unions in sharing best practice but at the same time also benefit unions that have little or no arts representation within their organisation. This would work through delegates being elected/appointed, attending meetings and then feeding back to their union to encourage and show them where they can campaign and lobby within their universities.
The government needs to learn and understand key and pressing issues affecting our institutions. Cuts in the arts across the board are hacking away at our creative sector, a sector in which contributions to the UK economy has increased since the recession began in 2008. According to a report by the Local Government Association, for every pound spent on the arts, £4 is returned to the national economy – the idea that spending on the arts is unjustifiable is nothing but a myth. For a government apparently so obsessed with turning everything into a business, they don’t seem to have a clue about the positive social AND economic benefits of investment in the arts.
Since the last Arts Group push a lot has changed, we are fighting in a different climate where it is even more important for us to unite and make our voices heard. From the new extortionate tuition fees for both Home/EU and international students to the massive cuts in arts education funding, the list goes on – enjoy the placard Shelly drew and I coloured in below.
We feel that Arts Group is more relevant than ever. That’s why it’s so important we start the conversation again, and this time even louder. That’s why I hope you will join me to discuss building an even more robust and confident Arts Group movement.
Spread the word, create some hype, more soon,
Hannah, SUArts Education Officer