Dartington College of Arts

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Coordinates: 50°27′11″N 3°41′31″W / 50.453°N 3.692°W / 50.453; -3.692

Dartington College of Arts
Administrative staff
Location, ,
Lower Close buildings.

Dartington College of Arts was a specialist educational institution at Dartington Hall near Totnes in Devon, southwest England, offering education in music and the arts. Courses prepared students for a career in teaching, in partnership with Rolle College of Education, Exmouth, and came to focus on a performative and multi-disciplinary approach to the arts. Its founder Principal was Peter Cox who had been involved as Warden during its former manifestation before becoming a college. It offered tertiary-level courses in postdramatic theatre, music, choreography, visual performance and performance writing. Its teaching staff were all active arts practitioners.

The college was founded in 1961 as a consequence of the original Dartington Hall experiment in rural regeneration. Academic degrees were validated in partnership with the University of Plymouth in 1975.

Dartington College of Arts became part of University College Falmouth on 6 April 2008 and, in 2010, relocated to Falmouth, Cornwall.

In 2020, The Dartington Arts School was established on the site of the former College of the Arts on the Estate of Dartington Hall Trust.

Dartington and Bloomsbury[edit]

Leonard Knight Elmhirst, the founder of the Dartington estate, was a member of the Bloomsbury group from the 1920s. The college and Hall became a popular arts location for such figures as Julian Bell, George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf. Dartington has also received special attention from Ravi Shankar, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Siegfried Sassoon and the Chinese poet Xu Zhimo.


During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, there was one student residence at Higher Close consisting of three residential blocks A, B and C, plus Garage Yard. Students would also live in digs in Totnes and surrounding area. The college was rural and was latterly divided into four campuses, Higher Close, Lower Close, Aller Park and Foxhole.


During the 1960s and 1970s, students were awarded the Dartington Diploma of Music in Education before transferring to Rolle College in Exmouth to complete a Certificate in Education. Some students later added a Batchelor of Education to their qualifications. In later years, all BA students embarked on a Contextual Enquiry Project in their third year of study. This was an investigative project and required the student to examine his or her work in a broader social context. The practice was an example of the College's roots in Dartington School and the alternative education movement which developed from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner from the early twentieth century onwards.

The Performance Writing programme was set up in 1992-93 by John Hall and Caroline Bergvall. Other teachers on the programme included cris cheek, Alaric Sumner, Redell Olsen, Peter Jaeger and Mark Leahy. The external examiners for the programme were Rod Mengham and Robert Gavin Hampson. John Hall's 'On Performance Writing' (Shearsman, 2013) provides an account of 'Performance Writing' and pedagogical reflections. Hall describes performance writing as 'a set of dispositions towards textual practice and inquiry' and as the name for 'a constellation of existing and potential practices'. See also Caroline Bergvall, 'What do we mean by Performance writing?'

Merger with University College Falmouth (now Falmouth University)[edit]

Dartington College of Arts has now merged with Falmouth University[1] and relocated to Cornwall in 2010. This decision was controversial and generated much local protest,[2] The merger with University College Falmouth was seen by some[who?] as bringing increased resources, support and opportunity for arts students and greater opportunities for vocational study and post-graduate support. Others saw it as the death of a noble experiment.[3]

Dartington College of Arts was one of the last remaining specialist arts colleges in the UK, with the remainder — apart from a very small holdouts — all now swallowed up by larger institutions.

Notable graduates[edit]

Notable staff[edit]


  1. ^ "Falmouth University". Falmouth.ac.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  2. ^ Steven Morris (28 December 2006). "Battle to save celebrated cradle of cutting edge art". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  3. ^ Anthea Lipsett (10 March 2008). "Last-ditch attempt to halt Dartington merger". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2011.

External links[edit]