Press Release: West Dean College Announces Ten-Year Vision

West Dean College, one of the country's leading arts and conservation educators, has announced its Ten-Year Vision for growth based on increased entry points and study pathways for students and a £25 million investment in campus development and outreach.

Increase in student intake and portfolio development. New building and renovation including student workshops, library, archive and exhibition space.

Alex Barron, Chief Executive, who addressed guests at a lunch at the College on Friday 3rd November 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."


West Dean College will become West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. This reflects the College's commitment to and record of providing the creative and conservation sectors with talented students of exceptional training. Alex 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."

Academic Investment

The academic year 2016-17 has been West Dean College's highest student intake. Building on this, is a plan for increased entry points and progression paths for students, and greater investment in teaching staff and academic resources. The College counts among its tutors internationally recognised specialists. The ten-year vision includes plans for greater funding to make tuition accessible for more students who want to undertake studies at West Dean

New Building

The ten-year vision includes a new library and archive space to support scholarship and research and to safeguard the College's phenomenal archive. Student workshops will be designed to support excellence and to meet growth, and an exhibition centre will be situated in the heart of the College's remarkable gardens for the display of iconic works from the College's collection. This will articulate founder Edward James' cultural impact as poet, philanthropist, and patron of the Surrealist Movement for a wider visitor audience, including families and schoolchildren. Exciting artistic and educational projects to further external outreach include the creation of an outdoor classroom for visiting school groups and families; short-stay cabins in the arboretum; and sculptures around the beautiful and extensive grounds.

Professional Networks

The College is developing its partnerships and professional networks to extend impact, nationally and internationally, and to increase graduate opportunities. Many West Dean College alumni have gone on to work with significant collections in some of the world's top museums and heritage organisations, or successfully exhibited their work around the world. The College is increasingly active as a loan partner for exhibitions, including the current Dali/Duchamp exhibition at the Royal Academy.

Launch of the Ten-Year Vision

The launch on Friday included a lunch attended by guests from the arts and heritage sectors. Alex Barron, Chief Executive of the Edward James Foundation, and Hon. Peter Benson LVO, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, addressed guests who included representatives from the University of Sussex, Icon, the British Library, the Crafts Council and Hamburger Kunsthalle. Guests met students and viewed student projects and material from the College's unique archive.

About Edward James and West Dean College

At the start of World War II, poet and philanthropist, Edward James (1907-1984) feared civilisation was on the verge of collapse. He responded to this by outlining an idea for how to combat this perceived descent into chaos: a community that could be a safe haven from the madness of politics, where art and literature could flourish and where young artists and craftspeople could be nurtured.

James was inspired by the writings of the philosopher and thinker Aldous Huxley to create this community at his family's flint-faced mansion on the South Downs, West Dean. The Foundation that he created has since grown into an internationally-recognised College that offers more than 700 short courses in arts and conservation. The Ten-Year Strategy will serve to augment and strengthen James' legacy of arts and culture education for future generations.

Notes to editors

Potential students can tour facilities and meet students and tutors at Open Day on 1 December.

West Dean College is internationally acclaimed for excellence in conservation and arts education. There are 700+ short courses each year ranging from Taster Days to week-long Summer Schools. Students can also study for Foundation, Diploma or Masters Degrees. The College is an affiliated partner of the University of Sussex.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is part of The Edward James Foundation, a charitable trust, also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.

All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.
For media enquiries including high-resolution digital images, review and filming opportunities contact
Freya Simms or Phoebe Ladenburg
[email protected]
[email protected]
Golden Squared Consulting
10-11 Lower John Street, London, W1F 9EB
0207 439 2822