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Oxford students take on Tories over cuts to art funding

The group created an exhibition to pique youngsters’ interest in the arts

A group of Oxford University Fine Art students staged an ‘Open Source Artists’ exhibition this week to encourage more awareness of the need for art in the school curriculum. The project follows prolonged and severe cuts to arts education at a national level.

The exhibition, closing today, was set up at the Oxford Academy, following a visit by Fine Art student Jose Mario Dello. Following the visit, Dello took to getting support from some of his fellow Art undergraduates.

The Oxford Academy’s Head of Art, Jaclyn Wiid, said arts teaching was being “pushed out”. She added: “We are very fortunate in that we still offer arts and graphic subjects at GCSE whereas other schools have cut the subjects completely.”

Wiid’s comments reflect concerns over cut-backs in creative funding in schools across the state sector. Between 2010 and 2015, funding to Arts Council England was cut by 32 per cent, with local authority arts funding cut by £56 million across the UK.

16 students from Oxford University took part in the exhibition. One of them, Suzy Vanezis, said: “I thought the launch went really well. You don’t have to be traditionally good at drawing or painting to be an artist.

“Some of the students weren’t very impressed but that was the whole point of it really. We wanted to shock and subvert the idea of what art is; that’s what sparks curiosity.”

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