Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Our Demands


Byam Shaw School of Art
2 Elthorne Road,
N19 4AG,
United Kingdom
19th February 2009

Dear Mr Nigel Carington, Ms Jane Rapley, Mr Alister Warman and all the tutors and staff at the Byam Shaw School of Art and Central St Martins College of Art and Design,

Re: Byam Shaw School of Art

We are writing to inform you that as of 16:00 on Wednesday, 18th February, we have been in occupation of the main building at the Byam Shaw School of Art, 2 Elthorne Road. We presented the Principal Mr Alister Warman with a list of demands regarding the service provided within the establishment.
Although we are in discussions with Mr Warman, he appears to be addressing the afore mentioned issues to the best of his abilities it has become evident that many of the issues we wish to discuss are not in his power to change. We therefore feel that the only way forward is to start negotiations with the Rector and Head of College.
Over the past few months we have tried to reason with the University about the ill-advised investments and expenditures of our money that we didn’t agree to, along with all the changes brought about unannounced and in a immoral fashion and were met with unconvincing excuses and empty promises.
In response to the letter that was sent to us on Dec 3rd referring us to the “Strategy for Student Learning” by way of an explanation for the funding cuts we experienced, we find this completely insufficient and inconducive to Byam Shaw’s unique identity as a hub for creative practice. We find it hard to imagine how 276 hours less tutorial time per year on the BA Fine Art course is a sensible or fair strategy for improving the education Byam Shaw provides.
We find it hard to believe that an institution such as this one does not have a 3-year financial plan that spans over the period of its longer courses. At enrolment we were all given a course handbook specifying a number of “taught contact” hours for each of the units of the course but we are no longer being delivered the service we paid for.
Regardless of the financial situation and other such circumstances whatever they may be, it is our understanding that in such instances, it is required by the College to deliver the service we were sold when we first enrolled on the course, even if that means going into further debt, or offer us appropriate compensation.
We have tried to work this out with formal letters, petitions and meetings but it was all in vain and you have left us with no other choice than to occupy the School until you have given us legally binding, written confirmation of the following points:

1. A reinstatement of the budgets and a return to the tutorial hours as they were for the academic year 2006-2007, when the current Stage 3 students on the BA first enrolled on their course.
2. A reinstatement of the budget for teaching and materials that was cut on the FdA course.
3. A reinstatement of the budget for materials in the different workshops.
4. For all workshops to be open from Monday to Friday for a minimum of 6 hours per day.
5. For studio opening times in 2 Elthorne Road to be brought in line with those of the BA Studios which are open from 7am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.
6. A return to the more economical, direct employment of the students by the Byam Shaw School of Art and a cessation of the outsourcing of school staff in regards of maintenance and cleaning duties.
7. Adequate communication with the student body regarding matters like the allocation of funding and any proposed changes to it.
8. That students be represented by an elected officer for the Byam Shaw site in any forthcoming meetings about the future of their course and be given the right to veto any major changes to the way their course is run, ie. the merging of the BA Fine Art course with the other BA Fine Art course offered at CSM.
9. According monetary compensation of all the already lost hours of tutorials in proportion to the tuition fees with regard to the number of tutorial hours specified in the course handbook given to each of the students when we originally joined the course.

We await your response,
The students of the Byam Shaw School of Art at Central St Martins.