“It’s a funny paradox that the skills and qualities that art schools encourage and prepare students with (ingenuity, problem solving, independent practice, optimism, determination, understanding of the economies of wealth and worth and the ability to understand diverse perspectives) are the very qualities lacking by the people proposing 100% cuts to arts education. If the irony wasn’t so ridiculous and embarrassing it may make one smile.
Art may be our only escape hatch from all this nonsense.”
Statement of support from Ryan Gander
Statement of support from Michael Blackwell:
We congratulate the students for their exemplary initiative and encourage all academics in the UK and abroad and the trade union movement to stand by them in their demands and to ensure that no legal action is taken against them.
Sustained protest and direct mass action, such as the current occupations, are the only serious option we have in order to resist successfully the government’s proposals.
The government’s proposed education ‘reforms’ are a blueprint for the wholesale privatization of UK higher education. This would abolish almost all funding for teaching in the arts and humanities and transform UK higher education into a fully market-driven system. Such a vision of the future of UK higher education must be rejected. The government wants to make it even more élitist and subordinated to the interests of capital and the state.
The government’s proposals are a part of a much broader and violent attack on the working and living conditions of workers that is taking place throughout Europe and worldwide as a consequence of the economic crisis.
HM supports student occupations’ demands that universities must fight for free education for all, and sees the struggle as a part of a broader movement that is taking place from Greece to France to Italy and across the rest of Europe against government cuts and austerity programmes.
Only by unifying these struggles can we successfully fight the government’s proposals. HM will continue to support all such resistance.
Signed by Editorial Board and Corresponding Editors of Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory.
To walk into the quad late this afternoon and see the façade of the familiar neo-classical building of the Slade School of Fine Art covered with banners, to walk round wonderful tubular cones that stopped the ‘human’ traffic of the college easily moving across the green, to have to walk round the tent tied to the steps to get into the Slade front door was really fantastic and heartening! I felt enormously proud and inspired by the energy of all the students involved that was also so visible to everyone who walked into this prestigious university square. There was a danger last week that the occupation at UCL would remain marginal precisely because its presence seemed muted in contrast to the vociferous protests of a few weeks back. The physicality of art is perhaps nowhere more evident in the university than it is right now and this should continue as much as possible. David Cameron is at pains to legitimise the cuts by insisting that students are misunderstanding their policies and that cuts will not result in erroneous financial burdens for existing students. He is appealing to the insidious individualism that infiltrates our self-image and we have to refuse it. There’s no better demonstration of that refusal of individualistic thinking than this collective move towards solidarity with UCL occupation and the wider movement across the country. It’s also fantastic to see Slade students initiating further dialogue with art colleges in London. UCL prides itself in taking the lead in standards of excellence. Well there are ethical standards of excellence as well that we should hold ourselves accountable to and not just educational ones. If we are enlightened beings then it’s partly because having the space to think, create and imagine other worlds allows us to be enlightened. Lets not allow the present situation to encourage us to forget some of the most democratic principles that led to the founding of the university, it was the first in the country to open its doors to women students. Holding UCL accountable to its own history of egalitarianism will be crucial and I hope the Slade Occupation continues to blaze its path forward and encourage more participation by students.
Amna Malik, History and Theory of Art Lecturer at The Slade
As a Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University on courses such as Contemporary Performance I fully support your occupation of Slade, UCL and am inspired by your actions. I am deeply grateful to you for these actions – they come at a crucial moment in the struggle and fight against the proposed cuts to education – cuts which may well see universities like ours closed for business within a few years. We offer education here for many, many students from challenged backgrounds – something we are very proud of – and something which the proposed cuts seek to completely undermine. I strongly believe that education is a right for anyone regardless of whether they can afford it or not and in the intrinsic value of education in the Arts and Humanities.
Dr Gary Anderson, Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies, Drama Dance and Performance Studies at Liverpool Hope University Creative Campus
Established as a protest against the instrumentalisation of education The Free University of Liverpool (www.thefreeuniversityofliverpool.wordpress.com) fully supports and is deeply inspired by your occupation of the Slade School of Art, UCL. We learnt of your heroic efforts whilst demonstrating at the University of Liverpool earlier today. We made sure the news was conveyed to the crowd via megaphone. The result of which was a deafening round of rapturous applause, chanting, dancing and cheering! We are behind you all the way – we greet you, as fellow rebels, with love, and join with you in saying education is a public debate, not a private economy. And we will not rest until this is made a reality. Many thanks for all your efforts – both historic and beautiful.
The Free University of Liverpool
As an art activist protest unit, consisting of a family of two adults and three children, run out of a council property bedroom in Liverpool, we are thrilled that you are occupying Slade, UCL. We recognise fully that you are acting in the interests of future generations – especially of the children who will one day enjoy the fruits of a free public education – thanks to you. Like you, we can see very clearly that the plans for education in this country are drawn up according to the logic of the markets. We agree with you that the logic of the markets is a clear debasing of what is actually valuable in education – that is, a space to think things through, act things out, grow, yearn, develop an attitude, sing, chant, play with each other, dance with each other, care, share and love each other, humanise each other and in the process, humanise ourselves. Education is more than a right, it’s fundamental to our humanity. We say ‘Free education for all’ – regardless of privilege – let’s use those spaces education (especially in Arts and Humanities) offers us, to understand how to live better. For our children who will look back at you and say “Yes, art changes the world – that’s what it’s for! They at Slade we’re only being naughty to be good”
The Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home (www.twoaddthree.org)
We are everywhere!
Is fantastic its happening in UK !! We following the situation there , thanks for the INFO, here same situation heppen, same problematics same answers… we should coordinate actions together
here the situation in Argentina :
anyway let keep in touch ,
love and errorism from Buenos Aires!
Federico Zukerfeld: http://zukerfeld.wordpress.com/
What a nice way you’ve found to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the Battle of Seattle. This is the same battle anyway, and we’ve won quite a lot, even though that’s not how the story is usually told. A lot of what we’ve won is what hasn’t happened–the exploitations and destructions and impoverishments that haven’t gone forward, the species that didn’t die out, the coal plants and air terminals that weren’t built, the rivers that weren’t dammed. And some of it is what has, a little here, a lot there. A lot of the battle is the battle of ideas too–
You know, the idea that we’re all poor and can’t afford civilization anymore is a lie; the priorities started to shift with Thatcher and Reagan and kept shifting. We’re still the richest nations in the richest era of the history of humankind on earth, and we just need to rearrange it back so that more people can enjoy it more strategically for the sake of shortterm pleasure and longterm survival.
Have a lovely occupation and don’t forget to write.
Rebecca – San Francisco
The Coalition Government does not appreciate what it has got in the British Art Education system. Getting rid of the block grant will demote Arts and Humanities degrees. This government is throwing away the cultural economy and preventing access to culture. We all own our National Collections in museums and we want to be able to educate our kids about where we come from and where we are going. British Governments always like to state that Britain punches above its weight militarily but in the arts we don’t have to punch above our weight because we are Mohamed Ali. Britain should seek to be a peaceful democratic mentor in The World with the arts as its universal language. Save our Art Schools and support the Slade students in their hope that the Government will once again cherish the arts. The Government is about to treble the cost of a degree while at the same time cutting the funding for Higher Education. This is like filling a loaf of bread with sawdust and charging three times the amount for it.
Bob and Roberta Smith
Compañeros, desde Argentina, la Federación Universitaria de La Plata acompaña a los estudiantes en su lucha contra las medidas de ajuste que el gobierno intenta imponer sobre la educación y las clases populares.
La Reforma Universitaria de 1918 y el innegable protagonismo de los estudiantes en nuestra historia, hoy se expresan en un movimiento estudiantil que defiende sin vacilaciones sus conquistas. Reafirmamos la educación como un DERECHO y el compromiso por una universidad pública, gratuita, laica y democráticamente co-gobernada.
Hacemos extensiva nuestra solidaridad y apoya a la resistencia que, con enorme determinación, están llevando adelante. Celebramos la unidad y el compromiso de tantos miles de estudiantes que se movilizan y toman facultades, demostrando que no podrán avanzar sobre nuestros derechos mientras continuemos organizados.
¡Vencen los que luchan y resisten!
FULP – Federación Universitaria de La Plata (UNLP)
To our British sisters and brothers in struggle
Please welcome our solidarity from Mexico. We have known about the heroic struggle you are undertaking in defense of free education in your country, and we salute it enthusiastically. In Mexico, same as in the rest of the world, we all suffer from the attacks to public education from a government working for the big capitalistic groups. Recently, our government has decided to allocate a large portion of the budget for education to the absurd war against the narco that has led to the murder of thousands of citizens, the majority of them being youngsters. The struggle you are leading is an example for students that fight against state policies to restrict access to education to millions of young people all around the world.
We will stay alert about your struggle and we are here for all the support we can offer to you from Mexico.
Revolutionary greetings for you all!
Students of the Socialist Workers’ Party of Mexico (POS-México)