Here is a a snapshot of a year at Dartington: an A-Z of ideas, activities, initiatives and projects ‘made in Dartington’. We hope it gives you a taste of our work in the last year and a curiosity to find out more.
A / Abundant Life
How can we live a fulfilling and engaged life throughout our older age? Abundant Life, our plan for a new Dartington based community for over 55s, is trying to find out. This £26m project aims to develop a new experiment that can be replicated around the country. Residents, whatever their income and needs, will play an important rtrt in the local community, keep active, busy and full of purpose, and receive first class support for life as and when they need it. Consultation is key and during 2011 we hosted a series of workshops, asking prospective residents and local people to help us design some of the scheme’s features and principles. Plans for the development are progressing well in an area of the estate formerly accommodating students from Dartington Hall School and Dartington College of Arts. www.dartington.org/abundant-life
B / Beyond Bars
Inside Out is a pioneering project we’ve developed with local prison, HMP Channings Wood. The aim? To try to break the cycle of re-offending by re-skilling inmates. Our broad spectrum of activities provides scores of opportunities to learn new skills and gain solid work experience. Gardening courses equip rtrticipants with qualifications and produce a good crop of fresh fruit and vegetables to boot, while artists help others tap into their creative talents. We believe that the project has huge potential to help rehabilitate offenders.
C / Community
We know how important it is to keep an open dialogue and listening ear with our friends and neighbours so this year Rachel Williams joined us as Community Outreach Officer. Rachel has been busy getting out and about talking to people from community action groups to W.I.s to school children and explaining more about our work. At events ranging from county shows to our regular community conversations, people have a chance to meet Rachel and the Dartington team to discuss their thoughts on our plans and activities.
D / Developing Knowledge
Hosting two organistations dedicated to sharing research in the areas of social care, education and health, we are proud of the role we play in developing knowledge in these sectors. The bodies research in practice and research in practice for adults, both headquartered in Dartington, this year held a joint event focusing on funding innovation in social care. The Directors’ Forum, attended by strategy leaders working in children’s services and adult social care, explored community budgets, payment by results and social capital.
www.ripfa.org.uk | www.rip.org.uk
E / Entrepreneurs
“Everybody has the potential to be remarkable,” according to Lord Young of Dartington, the founder of the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE). This year, his vision spread a little wider thanks to an expanding programme at Dartington SSE. The school, one of ten established across the UK and beyond, equips budding social entrepreneurs with skills and opportunities to help them change communities. Courses in Green Entrepreneurship and Trading for Sustainability complemented the core programme, where students honed their skills and ideas from vertical city farms to tackling the lack of affordable housing. Our next core fellowship programme launches in March 2012, offering face-to-face training, one-to-one tutorials with successful social entrepreneurs and fact-finding trips to exemplar organisations. We’re proud to report that 90% of fellows attribute their growth since graduation to the SSE.
F / Festivals
Dartington ran its most ambitious and successful festival programme ever in 2011. Thousands agocked to HOME, a two-day showcase of acoustic music featuring Suzanne Vega, north African collective Tamikrest and traditional Macedonian melodies from the Perunika Trio. Our inaugural Interrogate (see I) festival grappled with the thornier issues of income inequality through debates, podcasts, performances and workshops, while we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore (see T) — whose vision inspired the founding of the Dartington Hall Trust — with a week-long festival of words, music, dance and theatre. Another coup was our first Shops at Dartington Food Fair (see R), with local and organic ingredients and Devon chefs drawing more than 6,000 people. And of course, our international summer school returned for its 64th year (see X).
G / Green skills
Eco design, natural build, retrofitting, sustainable horticulture and food production are just some of the courses offered by Dartington’s Schumacher College, run with partners including Duchy College, the Eden Project and the Centre for Alternative Technology. Schumacher College’s Certificate in Sustainable Horticulture enjoyed its third successful year, stepping up its use of Dartington’s 1,200-acre estate as a place for experiment and education, whilst 2012 sees the launch of an MA in Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production.
H / High Cross House
The modernist High Cross House is one of the Dartington estate’s architectural prizes. Designed by William Lescaze for W.B Curry, the first headmaster of Dartington Hall School, it sings with De Stijl, Le Corbusier and Bauhaus influences. In a new partnership for Dartington, the 1932 building will open under National Trust management in March 2012.
I / Interrogate!
The August riots were the dramatic precursor to our first Interrogate! Festival, a lively weekend of debate, film, art, cabaret, comedy and music. The September event focussed on income inequality, examining its effects and exploring ways to change the status quo. More than 900 social activists, performers and artists attended the festival, including comedian Mark Steel, artists Stan’s Cafe, researchers Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson and folk stars Spiers & Boden, while the Ideas Lounge and Speakers’ Corner offered plenty of opportunity for audience participation. The event culminated in the Interrogate! Manifesto — a series of pledges to take grass roots action. Interrogate! returns October 12-14 2012 with ‘Happiness’ as its theme.
J / Johansens award
Whilst Dartington Hall dates back to the 14th century, our spectacular courtyard buildings, including the Great Hall, highly rated White Hart pub and recently upgraded accommodation, are equally suited to 21st century business and pleasure. As a social enterprise we host conferences, events, weddings and short breaks throughout the year, with profits invested back into our programmes. In November, the Johansens Condé Nast Awards recognised the efforts of our hospitality team, honouring us with a national award for excellence in the ‘sustainable hospitality and corporate social responsibility’ category.
K / Kayaking
Canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, raft-building and team-building: our outdoor activities programme broke new ground this year, thanks to a growing partnership with Dynamic Adventures. You can now mountain bike around the estate or try your hand at archery and orienteering. Quieter pursuits include walking our extensive footpaths. Over the coming years we want to welcome more and more people to Dartington so you’ll soon see new footpaths, improved signage, interpretation and information as well as a new visitor centre at the heart of the estate.
L / Land Use Review
Dartington’s current tenant farmer retires in 2014, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-evaluate how our 750 acres of farmland are used. We’re determined to see the land used more innovatively to support our programmes. We have been exploring numerous options including low-carbon farming, agroforestry, outdoor classrooms and a rural business hub and will announce our plans in 2012 and start implementation as soon as possible. “The Land Use Review has involved the support of so many people,” commented John Channon, Land Use Manager “from the Soil Association, to Transition Town Totnes, to the local community. We’re delighted with the progress made and look forward to introducing the recommendations.”
M / Metronomy
Mercury Prize nominees Metronomy are one of Devon’s proudest exports, their quirky electro pop singing the praises of the county’s coastline in their 2011 hit album, The English Riviera. Founder Joe Mount grew up on the Dartington estate and brought his band home to our Great Hall in September. Unsurprisingly, it was a sell-out gig pulling in a young crowd, many of whom had never been to Dartington before. Joe last appeared on stage at Dartington in a Nativity play: “The last time I performed here I think I was a shepherd. Now I’m back, on my own terms.” The gig is part of our commitment to reaching new audiences, including younger people (see Y).
N / New economists
Dartington’s Schumacher College secured a world first this year, launching its Masters Degree in Economics for Transition. The course, which welcomed its first intake in September, is being run in collaboration with Plymouth University Business School, the New Economics Foundation and the Transition Towns movement. It’s the first of its kind, focusing on training a new generation of economists in a context of transition to low-carbon, high well-being and resilient economies. Chris Huhne MP, commented: “I hope Schumacher College’s new postgraduate in Economics for Transition will make an enduring contribution by equipping the coming generations to transform our economy, and economies the world over.”
O / One Million
This year a million people visited the estate, enjoying our Grade II* listed gardens (see W), festivals, debates, courses, exhibitions, Barn Cinema (see U), Roundhouse Café, White Hart pub and shops (see R). We’re keen to attract even more people in 2012 to find out more about what we do and have been planning new footpaths, cycle tracks, improved signs and information for visitors. Dartington’s estate features 1,200 acres of farmland, woodland and riverbank and 42 listed buildings including the modernist High Cross House (see H).We welcome donations from visitors to the grounds and gardens.
P / Power of Place
In September, former Dartington Hall School pupils returned to the estate to wander the corridors of their youth. The draw was Power of Place, an exhibition held at the original school site, Aller Park. The exhibition celebrated the legacy of the school (1926 – 1987) by showcasing work by former staff and pupils alongside a cache of unseen photographs and an ‘audio memory box’ prompting visitors to contribute their recollections. The event coincided with an 85th anniversary reunion. Ideas are being sought for the future of the Aller Park building, which needs a £4 million investment to return it to sustainable use.
Q / Quandaries
The UK locks up a greater percentage of the population than any other developed nation bar the United States, so why do we top Europe’s reoffending tables? Are nuclear weapons right for our times? How relevant is Rabindranath Tagore (see T) to today’s environmental movement? Attendees got to grips with these topics and more at our Great Debates series, continuing our long tradition of encouraging people to stand up and discuss the burning issues of the day.
R / Retail
20 minutes’ walk from the heart of the estate, The Shops at Dartington is a retail destination offering crafts, fashion, toys, homeware, food and the famous Dartington glass. It’s a world away from a standard in-door shopping centre: the waterside setting features stand-alone buildings threaded by paths, while there’s green space, outdoor eating areas, a small play park and entertainment at weekends. This year saw the opening of the Haven Spa and Arran Aromatics Fragrance Studio, and pottery lessons, glass blowing and bike hire were added to the mix. The Shops at Dartington operates as a social enterprise with profits reinvested into the estate’s activities and programmes.
S / Space
We opened our new creative hub Space in April, providing world class performance and rehearsal studios for emerging talent and national and international artists. Excellent acoustics, lighting rigs, sound recording equipment, sprung floors and raked seating are on offer. In residence were English Touring Opera, Richard Alston Dance Company, SERIOUS and Wayne McGregor. In August, political refugees Belarus Free Theatre used Space to create A Reply to Kathy Acker: Minsk 2011, a play which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and garnered five-star reviews together with a Fringe First award.
T / Tagore Festival
Benjamin Zephaniah, Tim Smit and Deepak Chopra were among the 100-plus authors, poets, artists, dancers, actors, musicians, philosophers and activists celebrating the life of Rabindranath Tagore at Dartington in May. The Bengali reformist, poet and philosopher inspired the Elmhirsts to found The Dartington Hall Trust in the 1920s. The event’s ambitious programme was organised by Schumacher College founder Satish Kumar to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Tagore’s birth and his huge influence on Dartington. The festival attracted 5,000 attendees and international media coverage. The festival returns in April 2012.
U / U certificate
It was a bumper year for local film buffs. Our independent Barn Cinema, housed in a renovated 14th century barn, showed a broad range of art-house, world and mainstream cinema, seven days a week. September saw the launch of our first film club, BarnKids, screening films for children and young people.So far, more than 300 young film fans have joined. And our spectacular terraced Tiltyard (see W) became the glorious backdrop to our first outdoor film festival. Held in September, we showed Avatar, Pan’s Labyrinth and Cowboys & Aliens on a 40-foot screen, with visitors bringing rugs and picnics.
We are indebted to the many volunteers who give their time to Dartington. Without them, our arts events, festivals and gardening and conservation programmes would never be realised. This year, volunteers planted trees, improved footpaths and surveyed wildlife including butterflies, beetles and bats. Local mum Vicky Churchill volunteers on the estate every week, working towards her NVQ Level 3 in Environmental Conservation with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and Duchy College: “I live for wildlife and volunteering on the estate has given me experience, knowledge and a huge sense of satisfaction and happiness.”
W / Wonderful walks
Our Grade II* listed gardens are one of our most treasured assets, open to visitors from dawn to dusk and featuring woodland walks, 500 year-old Spanish chestnut trees, sculptures, meadows and the dramatic tiered Tiltyard. From November, visitors had yet another reason to visit: a new bridge designed by British sculptor Peter Randall-Page. The Bridge, made of oak, Blue Lias and Devon rustic limestone, improves access to the gardens for people with limited mobility. Peter’s design is both functional and a piece of art. “It’s a particular privilege,” commented Peter, “that the bridge will enable increased access to a place of such beauty.”
X / Xylophones
(and every other instrument under the sun) Dartington International Summer School is our flagship festival. Over five weeks every summer, world-class players, keen amateurs, advanced students and young professionals gather at Dartington to strum, bow, pick and blow. 2011 marked Summer School’s 64th year and John Woolrich’s first full year at the helm. As artistic director he has welcomed many new artists, creating a diverse programme incorporating masterclasses, Indian tunes, Scarlatti sonatas, string quartets, chamber choirs, poetry and a grand tango ball, resulting in greater plaudits and international recognition.
Y / Young people
Young people are a key focus for many of our programmes. Whilst research in practice (see D) works with partners nationwide to improve the lives of young people, closer to home, the estate hosts education providers including Park School and Devon Academy of Performing Arts (DAPA), part of King Edward VI Community College (KEVICC). We launched our film club BarnKids (see U) this year while our woodlands became ‘forest schools’ for local school children and outdoor activities such as tree planting and food growing flourished, introducing scores more youngsters to the rewards of life in the great outdoors. In December the Great Hall teemed with mini shepherds, angels and elves as we welcomed children from 5 local primary schools to Dartington for a carol concert.
Z / Zero funding gap?
Dartington already generates 85% of its own income, but we know that to succeed, every part of the estate must strive to become financially self-sufficient. Just like everybody else in these difficult economic times, we have been seeking new ways to protect and build our income. All staff at Dartington are tasked with being socially entrepreneurial (see E) and ensuring activities are self-sustaining. Through fundraising, selling some assets (including land and property) and building our activities we are investing to grow Dartington, to secure its future. Of course, our donors play a critical role in our activities and we would like to thank each and every one for their invaluable support. Please scan the QR code (right) to find out how you can support our work.
Author/editor: Jonathan Lee
Publisher: Dartington Hall Trust