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University College Falmouth launches new MA for curators

Dr Virginia ButtonUniversity College Falmouth is to offer a dynamic new MA in Curatorial Practice from October 2008, in collaboration with regional partners, Tate St Ives, Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, and the visual arts commissioning agency, ProjectBase.

The one-year, full-time course will equip students with advanced professional skills by providing access to industry expertise and practical experience of team-working projects in the field of contemporary art. Dr Virginia Button, a highly experienced curator, lecturer and writer on modern and contemporary art, has been newly-appointed to lead the course.

As a Tate curator between 1991 and 2001, Dr Button curated many high-profile shows, including the Turner Prize exhibitions between 1993 and 1998, and co-curated Intelligence in 2000, the first Tate Triennial of Contemporary British Art at Tate Britain. Dr Button is the author of the The Turner Prize, the official history of the prize and its impact on the British art scene.

Describing the rationale for the new course, Dr Button said: "Curatorial practice has become an increasingly diverse, collaborative and creative activity – the dynamic interface between contemporary art and its audiences. MA Curatorial Practice puts ongoing dialogue with artists and exploration of art-world structures at the heart of the learning process. The course encourages students to develop a curatorial position through practice, by testing ideas in real situations. The combination of partners involved in the delivery of this course creates a marvellous learning opportunity for students."

The course will enable students to master a range of skills essential for professional curating, such as imaginative thinking, creative problem-solving, organisational and communication skills. Through direct experience of researching, selecting, planning, publicising and installing their own show at Newlyn Art Gallery, students will experience working with artists and develop a real understanding of art-world structures and processes.

Students will have opportunities to work closely with art-world professionals operating within the different contexts of a national museum, a small regional art venue and a commissioning visual arts agency, including a project with Tate St Ives.

"This is an exciting opportunity for us to work together to deliver a dynamic programme of learning which offers a critical engagement with the issues around curatorial practice as well as direct experience of working within the arts sector," said Executive Director of Tate St Ives, Mark Osterfield. "It will offer insight into the workings of a national gallery, and access to the expertise and knowledge of our staff."

James Green, Director of Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, is delighted that the course is now available and that they are involved with it, and added: "The gallery's involvement in the delivery of this course fits well with our aspirations to support opportunities for emerging curators and artist-led initiatives in the region."

"This course provides an important means of nurturing independent thinking and encouraging the development of new models that reflect the changing relationship between regional, national and international art contexts," commented University College Falmouth Principal, Professor Alan Livingston. "It also offers great potential for synergies and creative collaborations with other successful arts and media courses at Falmouth."

In April 2008, University College Falmouth merged with Dartington College of Arts to create a new institution focusing on the expansion of Falmouth's expertise in Art, Design and Media and Dartington's expertise in Choreography, Music, Theatre, Art and Writing.

The merger will pave the way for a new specialist Arts University in Cornwall in 2012, creating a Higher Education institution unique to the South West.

University College Falmouth is a founding partner in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC), a unique initiative to promote regional economic regeneration through Higher Education, funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One), the South West Regional Development Agency, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall County Council.

For further information about MA Curatorial Practice at University College Falmouth, visit, email or telephone Admissions on 01326 213730.

For further information please contact Jilly Easterby, Head of Public Affairs, University College Falmouth on 01326 213792 or email

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). University College Falmouth is a partner of the CUC.


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