Plymouth College of Art, an independent art school in the European tradition of international collaboration and innovation, has secured over £600,000 of funding for its unique continuum of creative education, despite the uncertainty about the UK’s future relationship with the EU following the Brexit vote.
The £600,000 funding comes from a range of EU programmes, including the European Structural and Investment Funds (European Regional Development Fund [ERDF] and European Social Fund [ESF]), Erasmus+, INTERREG Atlantic Area funding, and Creative Europe.
It will be matched by £300,000 funding from the college and used to increase employability and enterprise opportunities for students across the South West and beyond. By facilitating knowledge exchange and SME support activities, start-up incubators, and new kinds of entrepreneurial interventions in youth settings, the college and other project partners will raise aspirations and contribute to economic growth within the UK and throughout North and Western Europe.
Hannah Harris, Director of Development at Plymouth College of Art, said: “The period following the Brexit referendum has been an interesting time for the college, as we explore what this means for our future. Unlike many other higher education institutions, we are not reliant on fees from European or international student applicants, but we do view the mobility and cultural exchange of our students across the international creative industries as paramount to our education offer.
“As such, we are, and wish to remain, a European art college, and we are open for business. The response from European partners eager to work with us and continue to build relationships has been fantastic. A series of successful EU funding applications mean that we are able to continue working in a range of innovative ways to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time.”
The range of projects include partners from across the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Northern Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. One project, The Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab, partially funded by the ERDF, will bring together the world-class research and development assets already available within the South West, such as Met Office data, to stimulate the development of new businesses, products and services that utilise big data. It will also contribute to the burgeoning Environmental Futures sector and provide the support required to see these data-driven products and services to completion and success.
Another project, Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs (AYCH), partially funded by the ERDF INTERREG Atlantic Area fund, will develop new approaches and interventions within existing youth settings, as well as in both formal and non-formal education settings, to connect young people, creative and social business leaders, with experts in emerging and disruptive technologies and creative industries. This will take place across a network of “Atlantic Horizon Hubs” that will help them to develop ideas, new products and services. The AYCH project will continue to develop the kinds of training and support provided to young people in the South West through Plymouth College of Art’s 2016 and 2017 Hackfest initiatives. By offering creative and entrepreneurial training and support within youth services that develops employability skills and encourages the co-creation of new products and services, the project will enable more young people to pursue careers or education pathways within the creative sector, as well as redefining the provision of youth services through design and technology-led, creative approaches, across the Atlantic Area programme and beyond.
“We are, and wish to remain, a European art college, and we are open for business."
– Hannah Harris, Director of Development at Plymouth College of Art
Oli Raud, Strategic Funding Manager at Plymouth College of Art, said: “These projects offer hugely exciting ways to pilot new activities that will benefit communities within the region and across Europe. Sharing knowledge with local and international partners gives Plymouth College of Art the opportunity to pioneer cutting-edge, new ways of working across different sectors. Through a range of EU-funded projects, we aim to support local economic growth and regeneration and help empower our young people, graduates and skilled workers to use design-led solutions to solve problems faced by businesses and society as a whole.”
Other upcoming projects funded by EU investment and match funding from Plymouth College of Art, include: the Erasmus+ funded Triple E-dge project, which will bring innovative edu-tech practices to the college, including the gamification of careers and enterprise teaching resources to support employability and character development of students; and the previously announced European Structural and Investment funded Hidden Talent in Devon and Strategic Employer Engagement in Devon projects.