Less money, more anger: Public art and design schools fear for their survival

On January 18, around twenty art and design colleges went on strike: for many years, the freezing of budgets has slowly eaten away at their means. Some establishments like Esad-Valenciennes are in crisis.

Anger is rising in art and design colleges. On Wednesday January 18, their unions of teachers, staff and students organized a day of strike with the same slogan displayed on the walls: “Without public money, no public schools. » According to the student union Le Massicot, more than twenty establishments out of forty-five were affected.

The fire had been smoldering everywhere for several months. For nearly a year, for example, the École Supérieure d’Art et de Design-Tours, Angers and Le Mans has been going through a deep crisis: despite more students each year, its budget is stagnating, its staff not increase and its premises are creaking.

Decreasing subsidies

At the European School of Image, in November and December 2022, students occupied the two sites of Poitiers and Angoulême to denounce the cuts in teaching posts and the retirements not replaced. At the same time, the École supérieure des arts appliqués Duperré, in Paris, was mobilizing against the insalubrity and dilapidation of its workshops. A few days later, students and staff of the Higher Institute of Arts and Design in Toulouse demonstrated against budgetary restrictions.

On the left: the facade of the ESAD in Le Havre covered with student demands; right: same scenario at the ESAD in Grenoble.

Photos Courtesy of Struggling Art and Design Schools

Gathered at the national level in an “inter-organization” called the School of Art and Design in Struggle, unions and collectives alert the government and local authorities: while the budgets “stagnate or regress”, management costs, inflation, the rise in energy prices are gradually eating away at the means devoted to education. According to an inventory carried out by Le Massicot on eighteen schools, “more than half forecast a deficit situation for 2023 and report funding losses in recent years”. Seven cut positions, eight increased registration fees. The most serious deficits affect Angoulême-Poitiers, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Besançon, Pau-Tarbes.

In Valenciennes, the hole of the Higher School of Art and Design (Esad-Valenciennes), one of the oldest in France, is “400,000 euros”. For ten years, municipal subsidies have continued to decline. In December, the mayor, Laurent Degallaix, warned that he would no longer compensate for the financial deficiency of the State, and this while heating costs are exploding. Since then, the school has survived day by day. At the beginning of January, its board of directors decided not to register it on Parcoursup and not to welcome a first-year student at the start of the 2023 school year. It gives itself until March to “build a balanced budget”, indicated to The voice of the North its president, Valérie Beyrouti, deputy mayor. In the meantime, the Esad-Valenciennes has organized an exhibition in its gallery with the support of one hundred artists and designers (until January 20). Hoping it won’t be the last.

The ESAD of Valenciennes is in a precarious situation.

The ESAD of Valenciennes is in a precarious situation.

Photo Pierre Rouanet/PhotoPQR/Voix Du Nord/MaxPPP

The “inter-organization” intends to continue the mobilization until its representatives are received by the government. One day it will have to show its cards: while more and more private schools are entering the market with expensive training, does the State want to keep high-level artistic education accessible to all in putting the means to it, or reserving it for a privileged minority?

Less money, more anger: Public art and design schools fear for their survival