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‘Making Impact Through Deeper Relationships’ was filmed over three weeks in the summer of 2014, after nine months of the project’s pilot run, and reflects on the outcomes of bringing together a community of artists, with no previous links, to engage with a broader social context.
The feature is based on interviews with Yemi Awosile, Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau and Laurence Taylor discussing how art, community and education interact together. Whether this is always necessarily positive, and how to communicate and deliver benefits of art education to the people who would not be able to access it in any other way seems to be an ongoing concern of the project.
As a response to tripling tuition fees in higher education in the UK, Open School East offers a free, partially self directed study programme for twelve associate artists in conjunction with leading artists, curators and theoreticians. Founded by Anna Colin, Laurence Taylor, Sam Thorne, Sarah McCrory in a former community centre in Hackney, East London, the programme has been running since September 2013 with an ethos to develop a new, open and sustainable model for art education, The school aims to become embedded in the local community and further afield, through the public programming organised by the associate artists.
OSE’s public programme has been successful in delivering a broad range of fascinating projectts. This may be linked to the quality of participating artists, even though the selection of the associates has been a subject to some criticism. Open School East doesn’t require any formal qualifications from associate artists, so it can seem surprising that almost all of them were already highly educated, some holding MAs from the UK’s most prestigious institutions. This may be explained by OSE’s current position as a supplement to higher education instead of its replacement. There are a lot of expectations from new alternative projects and expecting that OSE would tackle issues of widening participation immediately at the start may be unrealistic.
The identification of local audience’s needs have proved to be a challenge too. Open School East is located in the De Beauviour Estate, one of the most impoverished areas of London, which has seen a rapid transformation through re-developments of some of its old industrial buildings, and art studios, into new blocks of flats in the past ten years. This creates audiences with different needs and the outreach of art activities to Hackney’s poorest inhabitants is as complicated as ever, because too often art is connected to urban gentrification. For 2015 OSE is committed to more diverse participation.

Joanna Bourke’s lecture “Why Are You Doing This To Me?” at the Bad Vibes Club was based on her new book: Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present

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