A hugely ambitious ten-year ‘vision’ for West Dean College has been unveiled which will see £25m invested in a major expansion.
New buildings will include a library and archive space, student workshops, an exhibition centre at the heart of its stunning gardens, as well as an outdoor classroom created for visiting schools and families.
Chief executive Alex Barron addressed guests at a lunch to launch the ‘vision’ at the college on Friday, November 3, and said: “By 2027, more than half a century after West Dean College’s first students stepped into the workshops and studios, we will have strengthened our position among the top colleges for arts and conservation with increased national and international reach.”
The college will be renamed West Dean College of Arts and Conservation to reflect its commitment to continuing its excellent training in the creative and conservation sectors, with more than 700 short courses offered.
Mr Barron said: “The college is a unique place of learning with a remarkable story and heritage.
“Today we look to the future with renewed ambition for the talented students who go on to contribute to the thriving creative industries, or play a role in the conservation of society’s cultural and artistic heritage.”
The new exhibition centre in the remarkable gardens will display iconic works from the college’s collection and articulate founder Edward James’ cultural impact as poet, philanthropist and patron of the Surrealist Movement.
Short-stay cabins will be built in the arboretum and sculptures placed around the extensive grounds.
The academic year 2016-17 has been West Dean’s highest student intake.
The ‘vision’ seeks to allow even greater numbers to study there, with greater investment for teaching staff and academic resources, building on its teaching excellence, which includes tutors who are internationally recognised.
The college is also developing its partnerships and professional networks and increasing graduate opportunities.
The launch of the ten-year ‘vision’ was attended by guests from the arts and heritage sectors. An open day is being held on December 1.