From the outset, NIASH has planned to run programmes external to the school; working to bring art practice and education to areas of the town that have not been well served by the cultural and creative sectors in the past.
Hastings has a rich cultural heritage, with an established and growing community of artists, craftists, designers, fim-makers and musicians. This vibrant and pro-active community has grown organically - with its roots firmly planted within the unique autonimous, 'independent' and politically dissenting identity Hastings thankfully refuses to let go of.
The smugglers, the tubman, the pirates, the witches, the chimney sweeps, the fisherman, and the bonfire boys are all a part of our fiercely anti-establishment history and have left their indelible mark on the town, much of which can still be seen today.
The areas of our town that have - against all odds - maintained their historic identities serve as a brilliant backdrop for the creative communities that have developed here over the decades. But the town has sprawled out beyond these wards, and has thus far failed to extend this intoxicating spirit to its outer limits.
The 'forgotten' wards such as Ore and Hollington have their own identities and communities, with some incredible projects already being established within them. NIASH aims to create projects and programmes designed to draw these forgotten wards into the fold, celebrating their burgeoning creative identities and building inclusive networks through collective creative experiences.
Open Source Archive
NIASH has many projects that we hope to realise. Building a platform for printed publications is one of them. In the long term, we plan to develop the means to publish works, lectures and archives of projects, exhibitions and residencies.
The Art School itself already has one of its full time protagonists involved in the Hastings Independent - a highly successful and popular community newspaper, which started its life within Rock House, the current home of the Art School.
Kate Renwick helped to establish and co-direct the fortnightly publication, and is current editor of the Arts and Culture pages. The paper has already gained much support from the local arts community who helped to raise £4000 through an art auction that saw the paper expand their pages and secure their printed future.
NIASH focuses on stimulating projects that work with the local community for the local community, as well as creating sustainable platforms for self generating collaborative, collective practice.
This is a theme that runs through our educational and arts development programmes. Our aim is to extend the benefits of the School's social engagement and critical modes of practice beyond the walls of the establishment.
We will be documenting and archiving all the work that happens within and around the school. With plans for future works, shows, films, and publications to be produced. The archive will be accessible to the public. Students, researchers, and artists working within the school will be encouraged to contribute as well as utilise this information to help inform the future development of our arts/educational programme.
Many members of the local creative community are enthusiastic about the development of a community arts radio station based in Hastings. This is something that NIASH is keen to see happen, and discussions on this idea's development are under way.
The school is situated on the second floor of a nine story 1960's building - previously part of the Observer paper complex. Currently partially renovated, and still undergoing its physical transformation, the building has already seen several site responsive projects take place; and a residency programme has already started to take form.
Each of the residencies have been developed through informal conversations with the Arts director of Rock House and the artists taking part in the programme. Each residency is shaped in a way that works with the artists' personal practice and proposed plans for work and exploration.
NIASH has already hosted residencies, events, art shows, gigs, and workshops - from Christmas parties and Berlinesque art squats, to drink drawing sessions and fundraiser gigs - and has acted as a multifunctional project space for students and artists alike. The space will continue to function in this manner - working around, and with, the course programme during term times. To this end we are developing an outline for intertwining research and practice projects.
The space available to artists in residence and exhibiting artists is continually being re-negotiated with the managing partners of Rock House, and plans to expand the arts developement programme into other areas of the building are already underway.