Change a coming?

For a long time I’ve been quietly critical of D&AD’s education stance. Not that it hasn’t had one, but that it is overshadowed by its other activities to the extent it felt like a platitude. Further, it seemed that the opportunities that were available for students and their courses tended to be London centric and concentrated on those institutions with big reputations and long histories. Having a stand at the graduate New Blood exhibition several years ago was a daunting experience for lowly Suffolk students, not to mention expensive. They didn’t get a single look of interest in the two years in attendance and this wasn’t because of the quality of the work or their talent. But when faced with big guns like Ravonsbourne, Kingston et al, who seem to have unlimited resources to throw at their stand and a reputation that means industry creatives seek them out first and ignore the rest, it tends to leave a bitter taste. Initially I put this down to my own cynicism, until I heard other lecturers from regional colleges and Universities say similar things. And then they stopped running the XChange conference, where inspirational speakers addressed design lecturers in a fantastic networking opportunity. All this when the D&AD website proudly claimed ‘For Education’ next to their logo. It is not surprising that D&AD’s University Network numbers appear to have dropped in the last couple of years, if comparing the amount of stands at New Blood 4 years ago and the Universities listed on their website is anything to go by.

Well hopefully all that is about to change as incoming president Neville Brody announces some major changes, as D&AD plans to refocus its commitment to education. In a D&AD 50th Anniversary Special in this month’s Creative Review, it is reported that Brody will head-up an education sub-committee, which he says, “formed in order to make sense of the education space for D&AD and also to clarify the intention, the scope and the kind of activities D&AD should be doing.” When discussing its education remit being overshadowed by D&AD Awards, he states, “…the statement of intent has never been as clear as it could be.”

This is refreshing stuff, as are his comments on government attitudes to arts education. “We’re not going to be shy of raising our voices more politically…What this government has done to creative education in this country is an absolute fucking disaster.” He goes on to explain, “They’re shooting themselves in the foot. A huge amount of UK income comes from the creative services, so what possible good can come out of killing creative education? I don’t support the idea that industry should be paying for education but we have no choice, so let’s formulate a positive response, make it work and stick two fingers up to the government.” I look forward to what develops during Brody’s presidency.

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