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Art School or Art Factory?


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The students and teachers of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie are outraged. Protest have broken out the talks of a strike are becoming harder and harder to deny. After a leaked email from the heads of the Rietveld Academie strongly suggesting what many student already suspected, the school is using the students as unpaid workers. There have been talks between students and some teachers for a couple of months about this development which by many is described as criminal and not from this time, anno 2019. The school is under investigation as we speak to see if the way the school has been treating the students is really unethical and it could result in a high fee for the school, the heads of the school are facing jail time and there are even talks about a complete shutdown of the school.

The Gerrit Rietveld Academie is known to be pretty closed off for the public. They don’t have to adhere to certain rules that other higher education institutes have to, like the fact that they don’t have work with a point system. Also does the school not work with professional educators, but with artist, although this is with common other art schools as well. This is so they say, art schools, to stimulate the student in there education in the arts. Being around real artist will help them think and work in ways educator could not. All this makes the school a hard institute to keep an eye on. Many question arise now if this way of educating should be allowed after the news broke.

I saw many of your new pottery yesterday. They’re almost all single pieces and it would be wrong if we wouldn’t find a way to make the really good work that is in the pieces not accessible for a bigger audience.”

“We need to find a way to reproduce some of the works with machines.”

These are some quotes that caused the outrage among the students and some teachers. The students are being used by the school as unpaid designers, if you ask the students themselves. ‘We pay the school a higher tuition fee than other school in the Netherlands and then your own school uses you and your hard work, to sell themselves and our designs to the public. Where is all this money going to. Why am I even in school. I could apparently just start for myself,’ says Maria Sløthja a graduate student for the DesignLab department. Second year ceramics student, Frank Trebull adds;’It is like we are student athletes, but then like student designers.’ Teachers are also not pleased hearing this news, basic-year sculpture teacher Laurie Nagette has this to say;’ We cannot forget that we’re an education institute, that should be our main focus, educating the students. We shouldn’t try to make money off on them, that’s wrong.’

How the email was leaked is unclear, but there is a conjecture that one of the heads of the academy leaked it. The mail in question was send to all the heads of the school. But the remarks were made by Stijn van Kleinheest, Chairman of board of Directors. The authorities are investigating him closely, and the school has put him on inactive indefinitely.

The academy is also facing a complete shutdown, which comes with an even bigger outrage from the students. Especially among the graduate student the outrage of the shutdown was the biggest. They are in danger of not being able to graduate in that state. The academy is trying to figure a way out to prevent this from happening. They also have a problem with accepting new students for the coming year. They are considering not accepting any new students at all next year, but the admission has already started. And what to do with the rest of the students that already are studying in the academy. These are real problems the school has to face and find a solution for. For now they do not seem to have any. The teachers are also in fear of losing their jobs, for many this job is something they do next to being an artist, however for others it is there only source of income. Working at the academy is a steady pay, with is hard to find when you are in the world of arts.

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