Dartington College of Arts is a specialist arts institution near Totnes, Devon, South West England, specialising in post-dramatic theatre, music, performance writing and visual performance, focusing on a performative and multi-disciplinary approach to the arts. In addition to this, lecturing staff are all in some way active arts practitioners. The college has an international reputation for excellence, and aims to promote a critical self awareness in contemporary arts practice, and as such is firmly entrenched in post-modernism.
The college was founded in 1961 having evolved as part of the original Dartington Hall experiment in rural regeneration. It is now funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Academic degrees are validated in partnership with the University of Plymouth.
University College Falmouth merged with Dartington College of Arts on 6 April 2008.
The college's mission
On the Dartington website it says that the college's mission is to "...be a radical, innovative Higher Education learning community for contemporary arts practices in performance:
- building upon, sustaining and developing the distinctive Dartington legacy as a high-quality specialist learning community in the creative arts, at the leading edge of innovation in practice-based teaching, research, and professional development in contemporary arts practices in performance.
- providing life-enhancing, or transformational experience in creative practice for all those capable of benefiting from the Dartington experience, and adding value to the social, cultural and economic life of our region.
- nurturing and sustaining distinctive and dependable partnership, through strategic alliances and collaborative initiatives at regional, national and international levels, for the development of our mission within the rapidly-changing context of a global framework for higher education in contemporary arts practice"
One thing that the college is notable for is an interdisciplinary approach to arts practice and to a certain extent students from different courses do not work in isolation from each other. For example the writing students may write scripts which the theatre students then perform etc. As well as this, the college is very keen on international collaboration and in the 3rd year all students go on the Socrates Erasmus scheme to various institutions across the globe with similarly prestigious institutions.
Dartington and Bloomsbury
Leonard Elmhirst, the founder of the Dartington estate, was a member of the Bloomsbury group from the 1920s. The college and Hall became a popular arts location for such figures as Julian Bell
, George Bernard Shaw
and Virginia Woolf
. Dartington has also received special attention from Ravi Shankar
, Rabindranath Tagore
, Mahatma Gandhi
, Siegfried Sassoon
and the Chinese poet Xu Zhimo
The college is rural and is divided into four campuses, Higher Close, Lower Close, Aller Park and Foxhole. Higher Close is home to the student bar, the Rat and Emu (commonly shortened to 'the Rat'). Many students find the community life enriches their art, and strong identities develop from the individual halls of residences. Accommodation at Higher Close constitutes Henning, Perry and Albermarle and the old Dartington Hall School at Foxhole is subdivided into the Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Green and White Houses.
students embark on a Contextual inquiry
Project in their third year of study. The project is investigative, and requires the student to examine his or her work in a broader social context. This practice is an example of the College's roots in Dartington School
and the alternative education
movement which developed from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner
from the early twentieth century onwards.
In 2006, the Dartington Hall Trust stated that it could no longer underwrite Dartington College of Arts on the Dartington Estate. There has been opposition to this amongst the students, staff and the arts world, with conspiracy theorists suspecting that the Trust may have an ulterior motive. The college is currently in advanced merger negotiations with University College Falmouth with a view to leaving the Dartington Estate in 2010. There has been much debate in the local community, with part-time music lecturer Sam Richards
first being suspended and then summarily dismissed for gross insubordination over what he claims was a piece of satire
posted on the Save Dartington College website. On Friday, 2nd March 2007 the Dartington College of Arts Governors voted to merge with University College Falmouth
, in the face of lie down protest by members of the student body.
DCACU: Christian Union Website