We often hear that access to the arts is in crisis, with fewer than eight state supported schools in the country offering Art History A level, despite the creative industries generating £10 each minute for the UK.
Yet 40 students from over 20 state supported schools registered on Art History Link-Up’s Art History A level and Extended Project Qualification courses last September, and each year there is significant and increasing demand for places, with students voluntarily choosing to attend classes on term-time Saturdays to study for additional qualifications in Art History in museums and galleries. We are now in our third year, and consistently at least half – and sometimes more – of our students are BAME and / or from ‘widening participation’ backgrounds.
Each of our students is offered access to careers and university advice, to work experience placements in relevant fields, and EPQ mentoring by subject specialists from across the sectors. In addition, each student is offered study skills and subject support at Homework Club, run by post-graduate Art History students, after each class. As a result of taking our courses, around half of our alumni students on average say they wish to pursue the subject at university and / or careers in the arts.
Our goal is to have two further courses operating in the 2019/20 year and so to continue our objective of opening up Art History to students from an even more diverse range of backgrounds.
We are currently developing a diploma in art and visual cultures for younger students. The diploma will allow students to acquire life-long skills and an accredited qualification. The topics are intended to be flexible and to be applied to the study of any art or architecture anywhere in the UK, regardless of the size or content of local museums. In this way we hope to engage young people in areas far removed from major national museums.