A lack of space in the Municipality’s secondary schools has forced the City of Malmö to terminate the rent lease with Malmö Art Academy. The decision was announced at the start of summer, leading to strong reactions among both students and employees.
At the start of summer, Lund University was informed that Malmö Art Academy would have to relocate by spring 2017. The reason is that the City of Malmö need to make room for an increasing amount of secondary school students. Malmö Art Academy has as of yet not been offered any replacement facilities by Lund University, to which the academy belongs.
Current facilities suit the operations
The current facilities of the Art Academy are located at Föreningsgatan in Malmö, next to Stenbocksgatan, among rentals and small shops. They have been here since 1995, when the University launched the programme. Here, there are studios for the students to use, workshops and lecture rooms. Altogether, there are sixty or so students with space tailored to the artistic operations of the programme.
No new facilities
According to Solfrid Söderlind, dean at the Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, there have been discussions on various facilities both within and outside of Malmö which could be suitable for the Academy to move to. In addition, there are plans to merge the Art Academy with Malmö Academy of Music and Malmö Theatre Academy. The City of Malmö has such a great need for room that this is a solution that could be viable, according to Solfrid Söderlind. At the same time, she does not wish to divulge any concrete places.
“We have to find a suitable solution that is better than what we have today. We at the faculty and the Art Academy must have confidence and be focused on solutions in order to reach a positive and constructive decision”, Solfrid Söderlind says.
Currently, Vice-Chancellor at Lund University Torbjörn von Schantz cannot comment on the upcoming decision more than to say that he shares Solfrid Söderlind’s view that a solution must be reached.
Since spring 2015, a dialogue has been held between the City of Malmö, the urban planning office, Malmö Art Academy and Lund University regarding where future art education will be held. This information did not reach the students until start of summer 2016, leading to much frustration and strong reactions.
As the City of Malmö announced that Malmö Art Academy would be relocated from their current facilities, there was information in the media stating that replacement facilities would not be offered until 2027. This information did not serve to reduce the frustration among students and employees at the school.
A stressful decision for the students
Selma Sjöstedt has just received her degree from Malmö Art Academy and says that the decision came as a shock. She believe that new students risk being stressed out over how this will affect their future education.
“It can have a negative impact on new students, leading to a feeling of insecurity over where they will study. Us students at the school think the decision is absurd. At the same time, we hope that it will be changed so as to not affect new students”, Selma Sjöstedt says.
Demonstrations and letters of complaint
In response to the announcement, an information campaign was launched among students in order to highlight the situation and prevent the Art Academy from being without facilities after the termination. Since then, those behind the campaign have held demonstrations and sent letters of complaints to the Municipality board. Previous students as well as people active within the art community have helped spreading information nationally as well as globally.
Several students are worried about what will happen, and an open exhibition was held at the school to show projects and inform visitors on the feelings surrounding the termination.
Andreas Bentdal Amble, one of the students most active in the information campaign, is of the opinion that their actions are about drawing the politicians’ attention to the need for security and stability that suitable education facilities will provide.
“Malmö Art Academy will not relocate until there is a new campus”, Andreas Bentdal Amble says. He holds that there are clear signals coming from both politicians and the Academy that they will present a plan outlining where the school will move in connection with the start of the new semester.
Unclear what happens next
Employees at the Art Academy does not like that there is currently no clarity in where they will go when they are terminated from the facilities.
“Frustration and desperation were the first reactions among the staff, but at the same time, we know that the City of Malmö do not want the Art Academy to suffer from the decision. That is why we must work quickly together with them to find a reasonable solution”, Solfrid Söderlind says.
At the same time, Solfrid Söderlind states that there is potential for the City of Malmö and the University to reach a solution which will serve both parties well.
Text: Rebecca Bornlid Lesseur
Translation: Carl- William Ersgård