People & Skills Projects - 19 December 2014

Creative arts hub completes college’s £40 million transformation

Creative artists of the future are learning their crafts in a flagship £2.3 million facility.

Visual arts and design centreCelebrating the opening of the new centre are (from left) Student Gorge Boyle, 18; Chris Kowalenko, group commercial manager at J. Tomlinson Limited; Student Maisie Smith, 17;Principal Dame Asha Khemka; Student Kurtis Klegg, 18; Head of creative industries and digital technologies Steve McAlone; Curriculum manager Helen Wood.

The three students are studying the extended diploma in art and design.

A new Visual Arts and Design Centre has opened at West Nottinghamshire College’s Derby Road campus in Mansfield.

The college has transformed a former workshop building into a contemporary two-storey hub boasting state-of-the-art studios and workshops, modern teaching space, and bright and airy exhibition areas.

It represents the final stage in the college’s £40 million investment programme to upgrade its estate across Mansfield and Ashfield, which has seen the development of new buildings and facilities to provide students with a “21st century learning environment”.

The centre boasts a range of studios for art, textiles, fashion, design and manufacture, screen-printing and graphic design; workshops for 3D, woodwork, metalwork and ceramics, plus a photography studio, darkroom and digital suite. Its entrance foyer will serve as an exhibition space for students to display their work.

Previously, the visual arts and design curriculum – which includes graphic design and illustration, fine art, textiles, fashion and clothing, print-making, 3D and photography – was taught at the college’s former Chesterfield Road campus in the town centre.

Moving these courses to Derby Road has brought improved facilities and means students are taught on the same campus as their counterparts from the rest of the School of Creative Industries and Digital Technologies, which also includes media, music and performing arts.

The Visual Arts and Design Centre is preparing students for careers ranging from graphic designer, artist and professional illustrator to fashion designer and photographer. It accommodates almost 250 students on courses from introductory to diploma-level, with many progressing to higher education either at university or at art colleges across the country.

Steve McAlone, head of creative industries and digital technologies, said: “This fantastic facility signals the next stage in the development of our art and design curriculum. It offers vibrant and exciting opportunities to study a range of creative arts programmes in a purpose-designed building with up-to-date facilities, equipment and resources.

“Furthermore, it brings together all of the curriculum in the School of Creative Industries and Digital Technologies, which further enhances opportunities for learners to work in new and innovative ways across a range of art forms.”

Dame Asha Khemka, principal and chief executive, said: “I am immensely proud to see this centre come to fruition. The building has a real energy and buzz, and it’s great to see students working hard and enjoying their studies in this modern, 21st century learning environment.

“Significantly, it is the final facility to be completed as part of our £40 million building programme, which is equipping our communities with world-class education, training and learning opportunities right here on their doorsteps.”

The latest addition to the college’s estate, along with its wider multi-million pound investment, was praised by Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale, who said: “This is a high-quality training facility which the community can be proud of.

“The investments made by the college are vital to the short and long-term growth of Mansfield and will assist the town’s regenerative needs. The college remains at the heart of the community and its contribution is a constant source of energy that will guarantee our future generations’ success.”

The building was designed by Cheshire-based architects Ibi Group and constructed by Nottingham building firm J. Tomlinson Limited.

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