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MidKent College’s new Medway School of Arts to open at Chatham Historic Dockyard

A college has picked up the keys to its new arts school.

MidKent College has signed the lease for the newly-created Medway School of Arts at the Sail and Colour Loft at Chatham Historic Dockyard.

MidKent College Principal Simon Cook(right) and Richard Morsley, chief executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust
MidKent College Principal Simon Cook(right) and Richard Morsley, chief executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

It opens in September and will offer qualifications to university level and degree level courses accredited through the neighbouring University of Kent.

The opening comes after the controversial closure of the Rochester campus of the University for the Creative Arts.

The shutdown of UCA, which has a history spanning 170 years, was blamed on spiralling running costs.

MidKent principal Simon Cook, said: “The historic dockyard is known in Medway as a hub for the creative industries, so we are delighted to be based there.

“We have a strong legacy of creative arts education across the towns that developed the careers of famous names such as Zandra Rhodes, Karen Millen and Tracey Emin.

Closed - University for the Creative Arts
Closed - University for the Creative Arts

He added: “Ensuring that we can sustain university-level creative education in Medway is fantastic, and we’re delighted to be working with forward-thinking, passionate and committed organisations to bring this plan to fruition.”

The first intake of around 100 students will embark initially on a foundation diploma in art and design, a post A-level qualification.

The venture is in partnership with the University of Kent’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries and Medway Council.

It’s hoped it will include a community hub with studios and exhibition suites for hire in the building which was home to Kent Business School.

Richard Morsley, chief executive, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said: “We have a proud history of innovation and education at the dockyard and we are honoured to be playing an important role in expanding Medway’s creative sector.

“We have a growing hub of cultural businesses within the Historic Dockyard and provide a unique and inspiring environment for students to study. “

Cllr Harinder Mahil, Medway Council’s portfolio holder for heritage, culture and leisure, said: “The Medway School of Arts also supports Medway’s cultural strategy, delivered by Creative Medway, which aims for Medway to be internationally recognised for its creativity and culture by 2030. “

Jatin Patel, Creative Director of fashion brand Kalikas Armour, which is based in Rochester, believes having the new Medway School of Arts is absolutely crucial so young people can experiment, explore and express themselves before going into the specialisms of the creative industries.

The former UCA student said: “It is more important than ever because the needs of the world have changed, the careers or roles are going to be so different in the next five to six years with the innovation of digital and technology that is integrated into everything.

“We have to be reactive to what the world needs with a massive emphasis on real purpose and sustainability.”.

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