The CSVA Partnership Brunch

CSVA, Canterbury School of Visual Arts, arranged a networking brunch on Friday 23rd February. The event aimed to create links and opportunities between students and business influencers within the local community.

Canterbury College’s Catering students provided a brunch for all guests as they settled into the newly refurbished Streetside cafe, ready for a presentation from the Head of Visual Arts, Ben Kidger, and two Level 3 Graphic Design students who were to present their recent collaboration with Eurotunnel.

Ben Kidger stressed the importance of students working with the community to create and support great projects, providing students with key skills for obtaining and attaining jobs following the completion of their courses. In the past, students have worked with the Dreamland Trust to design posters promoting the re-opening of Margate’s theme park; worked with the Turner Contemporary to provide workshops for primary school children; teamed up with local street artist, Greg Stobbs, to create a mural for Love Lane; and photographed the glass and masonry workers at Canterbury Cathedral during a stained glass renovation. Projects such as these have become valuable elements in portfolios, built confidence and made the students proud of the work that they are creating.

Ben said: “We were impressed with the turn out to the first CSVA Partnership Brunch last Friday. Nearly 30 business professionals attended from the creative industries. This stresses the importance of grass roots involvement and creative participation between educational institutions and the commercial and community art industries. More communication between ‘town and gown’ is something CSVA wants to foster to help us design and deliver courses that are of real benefit to our emerging artists and designers.”

This brunch called for attendees to put forward projects to the Canterbury School of Visual Arts in order to place new events into the curriculum calendar, shaping students’ courses and experiences. Labelling those involved as ‘Friends of CSVA’, Ben Kidger suggested that the relationship between stakeholders and the College would not be one sided: the College would be able to put forward its students’ skills and its excellent facilities, which were demonstrated in an after event tour.  

Alicia Page, Extended Diploma in Graphic Design Level 3, said: “This is a good opportunity not only for ourselves, but also for future students who will be able to make great connections, collaborate with the community and demonstrate how good Canterbury College is for providing Visual Arts qualifications.”

Hayden Martin, Extended Diploma in Graphic Design Level 3, said: “The connections made following this event will give us a chance to work as individuals and provide us with some experience of what the industry is really like. Working with clients will help us to learn what future clients will expect and the standards they will have.”

These two individuals presented an example of how the surrounding community can collaborate with CSVA students having recently been commissioned to pitch and then create an art project for Eurotunnel. The students presented confidently and received an emphatic round of applause following the delivery of their combined artwork.

Claire Streets, Student Recruitment Officer at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “I am completely blown away by the students’ work. The students who presented today seem to be beyond their Level in terms of expertise and confidence.”

John Vingoe, Creative Director at The Hideout, said: “By working in partnership with the College, The Hideout will be able to offer industry talks, portfolio criticisms, and general advice, with the ultimate goal of helping the next generation of creatives break into the industry!”

CSVA students have previously hired out empty shops on Canterbury’s high street to showcase the students work, demonstrating how CSVA have always worked to situate their students’ work as part of the community, and create opportunities that reflect post-course exposure and real-life working environments. Teaching Levels 1-6, CSVA educates a wide range of abilities and is now looking for those who will be able to help improve the student experience by providing working opportunities that will upskill learners.

If you have a project to put forward for student involvement with then please contact Ben Kidger at Ben.Kidger@eastkent.ac.uk.