It was Marcus who first drew my attention to the situation at Dartington College of Arts which is, in effect, being kicked out by it's landlord, The Dartington Hall Trust. Now I must admit that I really didn't know very much about this College, save for the fact that it was there (somewhere in deepest, darkest Devon). But I was struck by Marcus's passion about the place where he studied - if he feels that strongly about it's demise, I thought, then it must be a very special place indeed.
Now I have no axe to grind here, but what I will say is that a country that loses its art also loses its soul.
And so I took a little look at the situation and I began to wonder why an educational institution which is financed (to a very large extent) out of public funds should, in effect, be controlled by its private landlord. You see, the College is constituted as a private limited company who's members are The Dartington Hall Trust (the College's landlords) and the Dartington Hall Trust Corporation Ltd. And at least two members of the senior management at the Trust are also Governors of the College. So the affairs of the publicly-funded institution and the privately-constituted Trust are deeply entwined. Which, to an outsider, raises all sorts of questions relating to conflict of interest.
So the College, if it is to survive in it's current location, must raise an independent voice. One which has no axe to grind other than the pursuit of artistic excellence. And if you believe in the pursuit of artistic excellence then you must raise your voice - please go here and sign the petition to Tony Blair. Please make this your New Year's resolution.
And if you'd like to find out more about the College and its current dilemma, here are your links:-
Save Dartington College
Action Against Relocation
Dartington Hall Trust
Dartington College of Arts