New Medway School of Arts launched by MidKent College

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Banner for Medway School of Arts showing a collage of students working on creative projects.

Here at Creative Medway, we were delighted to be able to join our colleagues at MidKent College, Gillingham campus on Monday 16th January for the soft launch of Medway School of Arts, an exciting new initiative that secures the future of arts education provision in Medway that reaches back to 1853.

Fiona Watt, Chair of Creative Medway said: “We are heartened by Mid-Kent College’s rapid response to the deficit of arts education that the imminent closure of the University of the Creative Arts Rochester campus represents for Medway. A Medway School of Arts is vital to who we are.  Medway is a place and a creative eco system in which institutions like this have played a vital part socially and economically.

‘We look forward to working with the team at Mid Kent to build a resilient network of support for the sector, continuing the Medway legacy of excellence provided by internationally recognised practitioners and educators who have dedicated themselves to building the skills and talents of our young people.”

This new offer will expand MidKent’s current art course to offer the people of Medway and Kent qualifications to university level for the first time.

Degree level courses will be accredited through the University of Kent, replacing the University for Creative Arts (UCA) Rochester campus at Fort Pitt which closes this year.

MidKent College principal, Simon Cook, said: “There is growing recognition of the importance of the creative arts as a driver of economic growth in the UK and MidKent College is proud of its continuing contribution to the skills needed in this sector.

“The opening of Medway School of Arts represents the latest in a series of developments emerging from Medway’s vibrant and innovative creative sector.

We have a strong legacy of creative arts education across the towns that developed the careers of famous names such as Zandra Rhodes, Tony Hart, Karen Millen and Tracy Emin. The partnership approach to ensuring that we can sustain university-level creative education in the towns is fantastic, and we’re delighted to be working with forward-thinking, passionate and committed organisations to bring this plan to fruition”. 

Medway School of Arts is working in partnership with the University of Kent’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi) and Medway Council.

Director of iCCi Professor Catherine Richardson, said: “We are very excited to be working with MidKent to develop an ambitious vision for creative skills development in Medway. This is part of the university’s wider investment in cultural and creative industries that will support the growth of the local creative economy, which is central to our plans for education and research in Medway. We’re at the start of a really innovative new era here!”

In 2025, iCCi will be opening Docking Station – a brand new hub for the cultural and creative industries in Medway with a focus on immersive digital technology, based on Chatham Historic Dockyard.

Cllr Howard Doe, Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Community Services, welcomed and commended ‘this superb new School of Arts’.

He said: “Medway is home to many talented artists and creatives that received excellent arts education and have developed their practice here in Medway. We are delighted that future generations will be able continue this legacy at the new Medway School of Arts led by Mid Kent College. The Medway School of Art also supports the delivery Medway’s cultural strategy, delivered by Creative Medway, which aims for Medway to be internationally recognised for its creativity and culture by 2030.”

MidKent College already offers art, design & media, graphic design and fine art in both its Gillingham and Maidstone campusese at from Level 1-3 but introducing the Medway School of Art means students can expand their education to degree level.

Jatin Patel, Spaces and Places Champion at Creative Medway, UCA Rochester alumnus and Creative Director of Rochester based slow fashion brand Kalikas Armour says that having the new Medway School of Arts is ‘absolutely crucial’ so that young people can experiment, explore and express themselves before going into the specialisms of the creative industries.

He said: “It is more important than ever because the needs of the world have changed. Careers or roles are going to be so different in the next five to six years with digital technology and innovation integrated into everything. We have to be reactive to what the world needs with a massive emphasis on real purpose and sustainability. I’m really excited and pleased that this collaboration has come together as a catalyst to offer real opportunity to create culture and creativity in Medway. The new Medway School of Arts will help build and strengthen the infrastructure for the creative industries here, leading to a highly skilled and informed workforce, that lifts the whole economy”

The Medway School of Arts will open to students from September 2024.

Clare Roach, Creative Arts HE Centre Lead, Medway School of Arts, has previously worked for West Kent College running their Creative Arts HE provision and the Ashford School of Art & Design, both pivotal in bringing arts education at all levels to the local vicinities.

She said: “We know there is a demand for this level of arts education in Medway and the surrounding areas. The cost of university courses away from home mean young people are keen to study locally if they can, and the Medway School of Arts is going to give them that option.   We are also working closely with the local creative ecosystem and Medway Council to ensure the plan for the School of Arts meets the needs of the whole community and encourages people not only to study in Medway, but then stay in the area and run a range of businesses.”

At Creative Medway we would like to make a plea to the University for the Creative Arts to redistribute any resources and equipment at Rochester not being transferred to other campuses to arts organisations within Medway.

Notes to editors

MidKent College

MidKent College blog – thinking about studying art and design?

The Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi) is a National Portfolio Organisation with Arts Council England. For further information: https://www.kent.ac.uk/institute-cultural-creative-industries

Creative Medway:

Creative Medway acts as a body that meaningfully represents the creative sector.

We are a Cultural Compact, a new model developed by Arts Council England to support and enable strategic partnerships between the creative and cultural sector, and other sectors such as Higher Education, Under 18 education, Public Health, the Voluntary Sector and Business. Together we are setting out to embed creative solutions to specific place-based challenges facing our communities.

The core purpose of Creative Medway is to support and promote our creative sector.

We aim to achieve this in the following ways:

Our Vision: By 2030 Medway will be internationally recognised for its creativity and culture, exemplifying the positive impacts on everyone’s lives.

Diverse, inclusive, collaborative and engaged, we will celebrate the strength and creativity of all our residents.

www.creativemedway.co.uk

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