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WEA art tutor Nicci Wonnacott

Nicci Wonnacott is a tutor on WEA art and design courses

WEA art and design courses

Case study: WEA art and design courses

RAMM’s collections have been used as source material for WEA art and design courses ‘Pattern Design for Art, Fashion and Textiles’ and ‘Drawing from the Museum’s Collections’.

The challenges

  • To extend formal and informal learning and skills
  • To be innovative and create a sustainable model
  • To make new connections and partnerships

The background

The Workers Educational Association (WEA) is Britain’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education, and attracts students from all walks of life. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) has been collecting costume and textiles for 140 years, which are a fantastic resource for creativity and inspiration.

The project

Six-week WEA courses in ‘Pattern Design for Art, Fashion and Textiles’ and ‘Drawing from the Museum’s Collections’ have been held twice, and are now a regular feature of RAMM’s programme. Courses can take up to 12 students, and are free for people on means-tested benefits. WEA is charged a modest amount for room hire and for featuring in RAMM’s brochure and website. WEA manages administration and other costs.

What changed?

Learners have developed confidence and widened their horizons while practising their art skills. It has been a new departure for RAMM to depend on WEA’s teaching expertise rather than delivering courses internally, and a good partnership has developed. RAMM and WEA now see each other as trusted friends.

What did people say?

  • “My need for learning has been satisfied.”
  • “I have learned about artists I did not know about previously.”
  • “I learned to think ‘outside the box’.”
  • “The way I see things has changed. I feel more confident to explore my ideas.”

What next?

Working in partnership in this way can bring positive rewards. Learners like the structure of a course to support them in their exploration, even if they would not seek out more formal courses or lectures. Enabling learners to hear the stories behind the collections would enrich courses like this even more.

RAMM would like to develop further courses with WEA on the same business model, both for mainstream and harder-to-reach audiences.

For further information

Please contact RAMM’s Learning and Skills Officer, Kate.Osborne@exeter.gov.uk.

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