Widening participation

Widening access to art and sharing art historical knowledge has always been close to Deborah’s heart. During her time as Director, The Courtauld has spearheaded substantial outreach work, both nationally and internationally. Whether through loans of artworks, innovative digital events, school and community projects, or truly innovative volunteer programmes, it has consistently ensured that more people than ever from increasingly wider socio-economic groups can engage with the visual arts.  

Through its Public Programmes, The Courtauld has fostered numerous partnerships with schools and charities across the UK. In 2020 ̶ 21, almost 6,500 young people took part in The Courtauld’s online Learning Programmes, including schools’ workshops and the virtual Summer University. Through The Courtauld National Partners programme, an exciting initiative launched to coincide with the Gallery’s transformation, The Courtauld worked with six national partner galleries based in regions connected to Courtauld Ltd factories. The collaborations shed new light on the The Courtauld’s collection through a series of loans and activities that engaged local communities. Some 17,000 people visited our National Partners exhibitions in person, with over 9,000 engaging virtually.  

With the collective aim of fully digitising over 60,000 negatives and nearly one million mounted photographs in the Conway Library collections, The Courtauld’s Digitisation Volunteer Project has brought together over 900 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds since beginning in 2017. The outstanding photographic collection will be available for everyone to view online early this year.   

The new Leon Kossoff Learning Centre opened at Somerset House in 2021; a space that is specifically dedicated to workshops and outreach activities for groups of all ages. One of the very first projects to take place in the space was a creative collaboration between Turner Prize-winning artist and Courtauld alumnus Jeremy Deller (BA 1988) and a group of young people from state schools across the UK. The project resulted in a series of beautiful and thoughtful visual and sensory artworks for the new space that focused on reimagining The Courtauld’s most famous artwork, Manet’s A Bar at the Folies Bergère (1882). 

Over recent years, The Courtauld has embraced technology to reach new audiences; over 52,000 people attended The Courtauld’s rich, thought-provoking programme of virtual Research Forum events in 2021-22, extending our research and debate to international audiences and welcoming those unable to attend in-person events.

New scholarships and bursaries have been established for underrepresented students, as well as enhanced student support including welfare and wellbeing programmes, our vital Student Hardship Fund, the appointment of dedicated Widening Participation staff, and the development of our Alumni-Student Mentoring Programme specifically aimed at students from underrepresented backgrounds.