Dartington College of Arts in discussion with University College Falmouth

Thursday 9 November 2006

Dartington College of Arts (DCA) is holding exploratory discussions with University College Falmouth (UCF) on the feasibility of its re-location to Cornwall, and the creation of a new merged institution within the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC). The feasibility study will investigate the potential for new state-of-the-art teaching and performance facilities and student accommodation.

The move would represent a new development ambition for Dartington's distinctive, and distinguished, specialist Higher Education community in contemporary performance arts, for which it has long enjoyed an international profile and reputation. There is a clear intention to secure the longer-term sustainability and creative future of the College in partnership with University College Falmouth.

A merger would create an enhanced international profile in contemporary performance arts practice and higher education within the South West's creative economy.

Dartington College of Arts has grown significantly in recent years, both in its artistic and academic ambition, and as a South West regional centre for creative enterprise. Its undergraduate, Masters, and postgraduate research student numbers have increased by 50% over the last three years, although Dartington remains the smallest specialist arts college in the UK.

Since its founding, by the Dartington Hall Trust in 1961, the College has occupied a purpose-built campus and student residential accommodation on the fourteenth-century Dartington Hall Estate, near Totnes. As a major legacy of Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst, the founders of the Dartington community, and as a tenant of the Dartington Hall Estate, unusually the College does not have ownership of its buildings. Following two years of extensive work with the Trust, both parties have now concluded that the longer-term accommodation requirements and sustainability of the College community cannot be supported on the Dartington Estate.

A parallel review of the College's options has led the DCA Board to focus on a re-location package to Cornwall as the preferred choice, and University College Falmouth as a perfect institutional match. The ongoing development of the CUC may provide opportunities for investment in purpose built facilities and will also contribute to the enhancement of the Cornish economy.

The case for securing the future of DCA has been recognised by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and discussed with the South West Regional Development Agency (SWERDA) and the Government Office for the South West (GOSW). Subject to the outcome of the feasibility study, a potential relocation would not occur until 2009 at the earliest.

The potential synergies between UCF and DCA are very exciting, and the opportunities created by re-locating to Cornwall are recognised to be highly beneficial. These synergies would ensure that the provision of Higher Education in performance arts flourishes and maximises the potential for students and staff, Cornwall, the wider regional arts community and the creative economy. There would also be opportunities to create new academic activities and businesses.

The DCA College Principal, Professor Andrew Brewerton, says:

"Our artistic and academic vision and cultural horizons at Dartington have never been confined, either by our physical scale or by our geographic location. What we do here is highly distinctive in teaching, research and artistic practice.

Every creative community worthy of the name will from time to time re-create itself accordingly to the context in which it works and the spirit of its times. We believe that the combined strengths of Dartington and Falmouth are capable of creating one the most exciting creative centres of contemporary arts practice and creative entrepreneurship outside of London, and we are extremely encouraged by the support this idea has attracted from our regional and institutional partners.

For the time being, the College continues to work in strong partnership with the Dartington Hall Trust, with which we foresee a continuing and creative collaboration for many years to come."

Professor Alan Livingston, Principal, University College Falmouth, says:

"We are delighted to be working with Dartington on this exciting merger and hope to satisfactorily conclude our discussions shortly.

Dartington's outstanding contemporary performance arts portfolio combined with Falmouth's national reputation in art, design and media would add significantly to the vibrant cultural life of Cornwall.

We are confident that this development will help us to further our goal to make a major contribution to the social, cultural and economic regeneration of the county."

Note to editors:

Dartington College of Arts

Dartington College of Arts was founded in 1961 by the Dartington Hall Trust following three decades of international experimental artistic and educational community in music, theatre, dance and fine art. As a specialist University Sector College specialising in contemporary performance arts, the College enjoys an international profile for teaching, research and creative enterprise.

The College has 680 students (568 undergraduate; 60 Masters; and 50 postgraduate research) and is based at the Dartington Hall Estate near Totnes, South Devon.


University College Falmouth is internationally respected for the quality of its undergraduate and postgraduate courses in art, design and media, and has a long and distinguished history.

The College has over 2200 students and two campuses: the historic Woodlane in Falmouth; and Tremough near Penryn, which is shared ? in a collaboration that is unique in the UK ? with the University of Exeter.

Founded in 1902, UCF gained the power to award degrees in its own name in 2004 and was granted the status and title of University College in 2005. It is the only degree-awarding body in Cornwall.

University College Falmouth is a founding partner in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC), a unique initiative to promote regional economic regeneration through higher education. The CUC is funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One), the South West Regional Development Agency, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall County Council.

For further information, please contact Julia Burdett, Office of the Principal, Dartington College of Arts, Dartington Hall Estate, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EJ, Telephone: 01803 861610, Fax: 01803 861666, Email: j.burdett@dartington.ac.uk

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