Arts move mooted

March 9, 2007

Plans to move the renowned Dartington College of Arts 86 miles from its home in Totnes, Devon, are advancing despite protests from students, staff and locals.

Governors of the college voted last week to merge with University College Falmouth and to relocate the 700-student campus to Cornwall.

The college's landlord, Dartington Hall Trust, said it could not afford a £20 million bill for essential repairs to the college building. The governors decided that the merger was the only way to save the institution from closure.

The leaders of a campaign to save the college - which is one of the UK's smallest specialist arts institutions and a creative arts hub for South Devon - said that most academic staff would leave the institution if the move went ahead.

Frank Denyer, professor of composition at the college, said: "We have been told that all jobs will be secured, but the majority of staff will not relocate."

Many academics are practising artists and musicians with commitments in London and farther afield.

Professor Denyer believes that the extra distance to Falmouth will make maintaining these impossible. "I won't be able to move. It will be out of the question," said the professor, who works with an ensemble in Amsterdam.

Many of the college's instrumental tutors work on an hourly basis and may be unable to relocate without leaving other jobs. "We are worried that such staff will not be available in Falmouth," Professor Denyer said.

Other staff had come to Dartington because of its reputation and had no interest in joining the larger, merged institution, he added.

Andrew Brewerton, the college's principal, said the move, which is dependent on European funding as yet unsecured, would not take place until autumn 2010 at the earliest.

"It's far too early for individuals to make definitive decisions on whether or not they will relocate," he said.

"While we regret the need to move, the alternative prospect of closing the college would have resulted in more job losses."

He added that he was convinced that part-time staff would travel to a new specialist university of the arts in Falmouth and pointed out that some part-time tutors travelled from Cornwall to teach in Dartington.

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