New Centre of Excellence for Clerkenwell

287flytt04aThe Goldsmith’s Company has announced a proposal to develop a groundbreaking new Centre of Excellence in Clerkenwell, London aimed exclusively at the UK silversmithing and jewellery industries.

The Goldsmiths Centre will comprise a state-of-the-art education and training facility, to be known as The Goldsmiths’ Institute, which will provide opportunities for young people wishing to enter the craft and industry. In addition, there will be exhibition, conference and seminar areas, a café, managed workspace and starter studios.

This major investment in the future of the craft and industry in the Capital is a direct result of the Company’s involvement with the City Fringe Partnership and co-operation with the London Development Agency. Development costs are estimated at circa £14 million, with completion of the project scheduled for 2010, subject to planning permission and contract.

The Centre will be run by a new independent Charity established for the purpose and its development will be managed by Peter Taylor, the Company’s Director of Technology and Training, working to the Trustees.

Dick Melly, Clerk of The Goldsmiths’ Company, said: “There is no other centre like this in the world and it represents the largest project that the Company has undertaken in the last 100 years. It is an initiative which gives a clear indication of our ongoing and steadfast support for the craft and industry in this country.
The achievement of tangible public benefit through access to the highest quality of design and craftsmanship, coupled with educational opportunities for young people and those already working within the sector is our objective.

Whilst recognising the challenges that we face in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, we believe that there is, and will remain, a market for creatively designed and beautifully made silversmithing and jewellery and that London’s role as a world class manufacturing centre needs to be maintained and developed. The Goldsmiths Centre represents our contribution to this process by creating a resource of local, national, and international significance.”
Four key factors have driven the development of the project:

A recognition of the importance of providing appropriate training and educational support to the industry and those wishing to enter it: A requirement for facilities where the public can engage with silversmithing and with jewellery design and craftsmanship of the highest quality; a focus on providing high quality, fit for purpose, and importantly, affordable workshop and studio space to support and maintain an effective cluster of complementary businesses in London, and a desire to create a focal point and resource for the UK craft and industry.

The Goldsmiths Centre will help to address the current loss of vocational training opportunities and the challenges faced by those exiting Higher Education after completing their studies. This will be achieved by offering two new and unique programmes within a purpose-built training facility: a one year pre-apprentice programme for young people who wish to gain a solid skills base before going into the industry or onto further education or training; and a one year post-graduate programme.

The latter course will appeal to top graduates who want to develop professional design careers within the craft and industry. In 2008, a ‘summer school’ programme for second year undergraduates will be launched that will introduce them to elements of the full-time programme that will come on stream in 2009. This will build upon the Company’s 25 years experience of running the ‘Getting Started’ annual graduate business course which includes input from high profile industry figures and organisations.

This is an exciting and challenging development and, although much progress has been made, there remain significant challenges ahead. Support from the craft and industry will be essential if the project is to succeed.

The new Goldsmiths Centre will be built on a site in Clerkenwell currently known as Eagle Court. The existing building was erected as a school which opened in 1874 and was one of the earliest London Board Schools to be built. Situated in the heart of Clerkenwell and a short walking distance from Farringdon tube station, the Goldsmiths Centre will utilise the historic listed school building as well as incorporate a new building designed for the purpose.

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