The National Gallery has become the new home of Articulation – a national education programme for students aged between 14 and 23, aimed at championing the arts and empowering young people to look at, understand and present the wider visual world.

Art and oracy are central to Articulation, a programme built around an annual public speaking competition exploring ideas through art history. This programme represents a key part of a new and UK-wide learning strategy that the National Gallery is implementing.

Articulation was originally established in 2006 by the Roche Court Educational Trust; an arts education charity based at the Roche Court Sculpture Park and New Art Centre in Wiltshire. The Trust supports children and young people to ‘look, think and speak’ about art to gain confidence in themselves and their future.

Image: Former Articulation participants

Originally the competition was conceived as a tribute to the art historian Kenneth Clark, who was a founding Trustee of the New Art Centre from which the Roche Court Sculpture Park sprang. The gallery was founded in London in 1959 to give young artists leaving art school an opportunity to exhibit their work in a professional setting. Many contemporary artists who have become key figures in the art world today have supported Articulation since its early days at Roche Court.

The impact of the pandemic has put huge pressures on education, learning and students’ engagement with the world more broadly. The National Gallery will ensure that the Articulation programme continues to grow, reaching new regional audiences; contributing to educational catch-up; and taking advantage of the globally recognised collection of art at the National Gallery, as well as the wider array of partnerships the Gallery is involved with.

Articulation will constitute a key part of the National Gallery’s work to reach out to communities around the UK, play a bigger role in the wellbeing and education of the nation, as well as helping to achieve the Gallery’s vision for learning: ‘art enriching lives enriching art’.

Leading arts professionals from across the country will be invited to support the work, and past contributors have included Antony Gormley, Hannah Rothschild, Tim Marlow, Hetain Patel, and Zoé Whitely, as well as having been a focus on the BBC’s Culture Show.

The National Gallery is especially delighted to announce that, as it starts this new chapter, we also welcome a major new funder: the Kusuma Trust. The Gallery is most grateful to have the support and partnership of Kusuma Trust, as we take forward Articulation and roll out an ambitious programme with our local Westminster secondary schools.

Background and next steps

Articulation is run across England, Scotland and Ireland to deliver the annual Articulation Prize alongside a number of other Articulation initiatives such as Discovery Days; the Discover Articulation Challenge, and an expanding alumni network. It works with 50 museums, galleries, universities and arts associations to ensure that young people are equipped with the ability and confidence to share their views about the visual world in which we live. As digital transformations continue to develop and change the look of our society, these skills have never been more important.

Over 6,000 young people, teachers and art educators currently take part in Articulation events every year.

The National Gallery aims to pan out the programme into all 12 regions of the UK; significantly expand the number of partner museums, galleries and educational institutions Articulation partners with; and focus on reaching pupils at secondary schools who are eligible for free school dinners.

Commenting, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said:

“I am delighted that the Gallery is able to support the development of what is already a hugely appreciated and impactful educational programme. The Gallery’s team, collection and networks across the UK and internationally will allow Articulation to scale-up and reach an even broader range of students, whilst being faithful to its original purpose and ethos.

The arts have a crucial role to play in giving students the critical skills and confidence to understand and respond productively and creatively to the visual world around us, and indeed the world as a whole. I can’t wait to see the programme develop further over the coming years.”

Karen Eslea, Head of Learning and National Programmes, said:

“Articulation doesn’t just allow students to develop a specialisation in the arts and a love of all things visual, but it gives them the agency and power to step into the world, analyse it and make something of it for themselves, or something new out of it entirely. I am particularly excited about how the programme can help develop and promote educational and career pathways in the arts to new students from a much broader set of backgrounds.

I want to thank on behalf of the Gallery the team at Roche Court and recognise the significant achievements already realised through establishing and delivering Articulation over recent years.”

Roche Court Educational Trust commented:

“We are delighted that the National Gallery has become the new home of Articulation, which is a much-loved educational programme focused on giving young people the confidence and opportunity to look at, understand and comment in powerful ways on art, and the wider visual world.

Articulation has become a trusted initiative with a proven track record and now it is time for an institution with the history and reputation of the National Gallery to act as a platform for it to reach new audiences and further develop its nation-wide footprint. We are looking forward to seeing what happens next and would like to thank the team at the National Gallery for launching a new chapter for Articulation. Meanwhile, the Roche Court Educational Trust will continue to welcome children and young people to the Sculpture Park at Roche Court in Wiltshire, for our thriving programme here.”

The final of the Articulation Prize 2022 – 23rd March at the National Gallery

The National Gallery is launching this strategic development at the final of the 2022 competition, which will consist of finalists from schools and colleges around England competing in the main Sainsbury Wing auditorium at the National Gallery, on Wednesday 23 March from 1–4.30pm, adjudicated by Neil MacGregor. Please contact articulation@sculpture.uk.com to book your seat in the audience.