Dudley Mayor praises wealth of creativity on show at Artsfest exhibition

The Mayor of Dudley attended an exhibition of work by arts students at Dudley College of Technology last night (Monday 12 June).

Our Artsfest art exhibition features work by students of animation, fine art, fashion and textiles, games design, graphic design, illustration, media, music, performing arts, photography, and production arts.

Artsfest exhibitions are being held across the colleges campuses at EvolveInspiredDudley Sixth and Enhance campuses from the 12th until the 14th June 2023. A virtual gallery is also available to view at on our Artsfest website.

The Worshipful, Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Andrea Goddard visits Dudley College of Technology’s ArtsFest 2023.
The Worshipful, Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Andrea Goddard visits Dudley College of Technology’s Artsfest 2023.

The exhibitions are a chance for people to view work by emerging creatives in the Black Country, Birmingham, and the wider West Midlands region and to find out about the range of arts courses the college provides.

Students at the college have also helped to raise thousands of pounds for the Ronnie and Friends charity. It was founded to support Dudley Group NHS Charity Baby Bereavement by College employee Aimee Garratt, in memory of her son Ronnie. The students have made a book of all their charity work in this area, which they presented to Mayor.

The Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Andrea Goddard, said:

“I really enjoyed myself at the Artsfest exhibition, it was lovely to meet the students and see the sheer range and quality of the work they’d produced. The arts department offers a huge range of courses and there was just so much to see – paintings, clothes and fashion, music, photography and more. 

“The students were clearly passionate about their subjects and I’m sure with their talent and the support of their tutors, will go on to greater things.”

Commenting on the event Neil Thomas, Principal and Chief Executive of Dudley College of Technology said: 

“This annual event has become a highlight of the Arts calendar at Dudley, with hundreds of pieces of work on display, showcasing the diversity and quality of what students produce. Any member of the public can come and look round and I’m sure they will be stimulated by the breadth of creative talent we have”. 

Praising the hard work of students, Phil Brooks, Course Leader in Photography, at Dudley College of Technology, noted:

“Artsfest provides our students with the opportunity to showcase their work in a professional setting. It also gives visitors the chance to see first-hand what they are capable of, and with the new virtual exhibition which we introduced during Covid, even more people can see the results of all their hard work.

“I’m really proud of everything they’ve achieved, both with their studies but also the effort they’ve put into their fundraising. It was a pleasure to be able to share both the exhibition and their specially printed book documenting all of this, with the mayor.”

Artsfest runs daily from 9.00am to 8.00pm with a Performing Arts showcase on Tuesday 13th June 6.00 – 7.45pm at the Evolve Theatre and a Media Production showcase showcasing short films and documentaries on Wednesday 14th June 7.00 – 9.00pm also at the Evolve Theatre.

Skills For Life – in Action

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street recently visited Dudley College of Technology’s Skills Shop, located at the heart of Merry Hill Centre to talk with learners who are benefiting from training funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Learners at the centre are studying a range of Sector-based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs), which are designed alongside an employer who is looking to recruit employees from a pool of newly unemployed candidates. Sector-based Work Academy Programmes are designed to help improve the job prospects of learners and help employers fill vacancies where there is local demand. SWAPs are short, sharp programmes lasting up to 6 weeks and have three main components: pre-employment training, work experience placement and a guaranteed job interview.

Andy Street visits the Skills Shop
DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) Job Coach, Kirsty Brookes, Skills Shop learner: Beth Illidge, Mayor of the West Midlands; Andy Street and Skills Shop Manager: Ruth Trethewey.

SWAPs are currently receiving an injection of government funding, which is administered by the WMCA regionally, as the government seeks to help jobseekers who are claiming either Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), to build confidence, improve job prospects and enhance CVs whilst also helping businesses build a skilled workforce.

Commenting on the success of the SWAPs which are run from the centre, Principal and Chief Executive Officer of Dudley College, Neil Thomas said: “Our sector-based work academy programme (SWAPs) is an opportunity to learn new skills and get an experience of working in a particular industry.

Participants continue to receive benefits whilst taking part in a SWAP and receive support with covering the cost of public transport and childcare whilst studying. The best thing about them is that each SWAP is linked to one or more genuine job vacancy. Last year nearly half of the people completed SWAP programmes were then taken directly into employment, which is something we are really proud of”.

During his visit Andy met with Pauline Jones, Business Manager at the Department of Work and Pensions who works closely with the Skills Shop to refer people to the centre who will benefit from a skills boost. Learners such as   Beth Illidge, who has been recently unemployed and was attending the Skills Shop to find out about the pre-employment training she could benefit from and the hospitality SWAP which is supported by three local employers, McDonalds, KFC, and The Hop House who are working with the centre to recruit new employees.

Anyone wishing to join a SWAP or employers looking to fill vacancies should contact Black Country Skills Shop team on 01384 363790.

Dudley College Photography students selected to feature in nationwide exhibitions for Historic England!

Our very own Photography students Beth Hewitt, Marni Parkes, Sarah Ralph, Olivia Rhoden and Jordy Webb were successfully selected by Historic England in the project ‘Picturing High Streets’. This exhibition aims to depict high streets, individuals and communities around the country. The soon to arrive exhibition is part of a three-year project presented by Historic England and Photoworks in partnership with various national photography organisations. 

All of those who entered photographs were given fortnightly challenges with themes such as “high street hang outs” and “bright lights to dark nights”. Photographs were submitted by posting under the hashtag #PicturingHighStreets on Instagram, with all entries creating an unofficial archive which documents high streets. 60 entries in total were selected out of over 1,000 entries nationwide to be displayed in a variety of towns and cities across the country, so we are ever so proud of our students’ achievements in being selected! 

Photography student Marni Parkes with her ‘Picturing High Streets’ entry.
Photography student Marni Parkes with her ‘Picturing High Streets’ entry. 

The chosen photos will be displayed in different forms through the country, such as part of the FORMAT23 photography festival in Derby, exhibitions in Bristol and Bradford and on window vinyls in Middlesbrough, Hastings, Stoke-on-Trent and Prescot. They will also be visible as projections on walls in Soho Photography Quarter, outside The Photographers’ Gallery, and on Clear Channel advertising space across England.   

The future of our high streets may look uncertain at times, so this exhibition will allow the public to reflect on the lasting impact our high streets still have on us and communities across the UK. They are often places to celebrate history, local culture and varied experiences that make up the people and places that we might take for granted in our daily lives. 

This programme is a part of Historic England’s £95 million government-funded High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme, which is providing people with a renewed outlook on over 60 high streets across England. Achieving status as the widest-reaching community-led arts and heritage programme in the public realm that has ever been organised, this has been led by Historic England in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

Why not follow @PicturingHighStreets on Instagram and post your own pictures using #PicturingHighStreets? The national outdoor exhibition will open in March 2023 for you to enjoy and see students work. A big congratulations goes out again to all students who took part, particularly those who were successfully chosen to participate in this project, showing off their skills and passion through fantastic pictures! We are so very proud of your achievements so far. 

Dudley College of Technology appoints new Chair of Corporation

Dudley College of Technology has appointed Professor Paul Noon OBE, as its new Chair of Corporation. 

He will succeed David Whatton on the 1st April 2023, the current Chair, who steps down following eight dedicated years of service to the Corporation, four of which in the role of chair.

Paul’s appointment follows a robust recruitment process led by David, to find his successor.

Paul is well suited to the position with an extensive career in the public sector with previous roles in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and as Regional Director of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) West Midlands. He currently works as Pro-Vice Chancellor (Enterprise and Innovation) for Coventry University where he is involved in projects as diverse as developing the health sector in Yorkshire and aviation and manufacturing sectors in Indonesia and Brazil.

With his vast experience in developing the economic prosperity of the UK, supporting business of all sizes to develop their export markets -Paul champions a de-centralised approach to economic development working collaboratively with the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Midlands Engine to drive growth and prosperity in the West Midlands region.

Commenting on Paul’s appointment David Whatton said:

“I am delighted we have been able to secure such an outstanding appointment for the post of Chair of the college’s Corporation. I am confident Paul will help the college to continue to give a great education and experience to all of our students. His background and knowledge will also help the college to meet the needs of our communities and the businesses we serve.  His professional experience and wider understanding will help the Governors and the staff of the college to navigate the changes in further education and ensure that Dudley College continues to be the best college of technology in the country.”

Welcoming Paul and thanking David prior to the hand over Neil Thomas, Chief Executive and Principal of Dudley College of Technology said:

“David has been a huge personal support to me in my leadership of the college, helping to make it the vibrant place it is today. I very much look forward to working with Paul to continue the college’s journey of success by developing innovative approaches to meeting the skills needs of our economy.”

Paul will initially take up the role for a period of four years.