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The Margate School signs partnership agreement with l’École supérieure d’art Dunkerque-Tourcoing

The Margate School has continued its groundbreaking progress by signing a partnership agreement with Esä: l’École supérieure d’art | Dunkerque-Tourcoing. This is a unique arrangement within the UK - TMS is the only institution in the UK with a French art school accreditation partnership for Fine Art postgraduate study.

The partnership will provide The Margate School with a European recognised accreditation framework, the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) for its MA in Fine Art: Art Society Nature and joint teaching and assessment arrangements, plus the development of other MA provision. The formal partnership, endorsed by both mayors of Margate and Dunkerque, will be the basis for future education and research collaborations, residencies, exchange visits and projects.

On Wednesday 7 June a delegation from The Margate School - which included Maz Stuart, Academic Coordinator; Rebecca Truscott-Elves, Tutor, Uwe Derksen, Director and Dominic Rose, Darkroom Coordinator and Student - travelled to Dunkerque with Councillor Rob Yates, Mayor of Margate to take part in the signing of the partnership agreement between The Margate School and l’École supérieure d’Art | Dunkerque-Tourcoing (Esä), the highly regarded French art school.

Also present at the signing ceremony were the Esä heads Anne Rivollet and Martial Chmielina Verschaeve of the Dunkerque and Tourcoing campuses and students and staff, the Mayor of Dunkerque, Monsieur Patrice Vergriete, the deputy mayor for culture and Hélène Dinh, a representative of the Straits Committee. It was the first visit by the Mayor of Dunkerque and a representative of the Straits Committee to Esä.

The agreement was signed by Uwe Derksen and Thierry Heynen as directors of their respective art schools, TMS and Esä.

En route to the signing, the TMS contingent were treated to an exclusive visit to the contemporary art gallery FRAC, to view the installation in progress of Chaleur Humaine, which focuses on cross border space and felt very apt for the visit.

At the signing ceremony, Uwe Derksen, director of The Margate School said, "Today is a very important occasion for The Margate School. A moment, I believe, that will shape the future of The Margate School."

Thierry Heynen, the Director of Esä, said "Since Art, Society and Nature unite us, The Margate School and Esä have decided to work together on the creation of a hybrid graduate programme to prepare our students for the DNSEP ART in Art, Society and Nature. TMS students will also be Esä students, and at the Margate, Dunkirk and Tourcoing sites we will be developing joint workshop projects, exhibition projects and research projects ... Yes, while the Brexit has unfortunately broken many links between our higher education establishments on either side of the Channel or the North Sea, today we are starting together to build a bridge over the sea."

The Mayor of Margate, Rob Yates, said "The partnership between Esä and The Margate School is such an important collaboration which I and the people of Margate support and I wholeheartedly endorse."

The Mayor of Dunkerque, Patrice Vergriete and Hélène Dinh, Representative Straits Committee, Département du Nord both wholeheartedly endorsed the partnership.


The Margate School The Margate School (TMS) is a diverse creative community of artists, makers, students, academics and volunteers located in the vibrant coastal town of Margate, Kent. As a not-for-profit postgraduate liberal arts school at the heart of this community, we focus on the role of the arts in social and environmental justice.

Students are offered postgraduate study with international links and the rigour of a qualification accredited by our partner Esä, a leading French higher education art school based in Dunkerque and Tourcoing. We take a radical, democratic approach to arts education, equipping every student to envision, shape and navigate an uncertain future. TMS supports artists and makers to develop a sustainable creative practice and provides an exciting alternative to mainstream arts education.


Created on 1 January 2011 from the merger of ERBA in Dunkerque and ERSEP in Tourcoing, Esä prepares students for the DNA Art (Diplôme National d'Art, option Art, a national diploma awarded by the Ministry of Culture conferring the grade of Bachelor), and the DNSEP Art (Diplôme National Supérieur d'Expression Plastique, a national diploma awarded by the Ministry of Culture conferring the grade of Master) in the "Art, Society, Nature" field at the Dunkerque site and in the "Art, Sciences, Nature" field at the Tourcoing site.

Esä has almost 300 students on its two sites, offering a varied and original range of courses in its Art option, which is spread between the Lille metropolitan area and the coast. The cross-border nature of the area is conducive to exchanges: the proximity of major European cultural capitals (Brussels, Ghent, Liège, Lille, London, Rotterdam, etc.) enhances the influence and breadth of the educational offer. The academic, professional and institutional network that has been built up makes it possible to create a real dynamic for projects and curricula in the fields of teaching, professional integration, international mobility and research.

This Établissement Public de Coopération Culturelle is an administrative body dedicated to higher education and research in the field of art, under the educational supervision of the Ministry of Culture. It receives financial contributions from the towns of Tourcoing and Dunkerque, the State and the Hauts-de-France Region.


Dunkerque is a French coastal city and is sub-prefecture of the Nord department.

With 86,545 inhabitants in 2020, it is the fifth most populous city in the Hauts-de-France region, and the second most populous outside the Lille metropolitan area after Amiens. Its inhabitants are known as the Dunkerquois. The "city of Jean Bart" is at the centre of the Dunkerque Grand Littoral urban community, which comprises seventeen municipalities and had a population of 198,814 in 20131. It is also at the heart of France's 40th largest urban area, with 257,259 inhabitants in 20132, spread across fifty-six municipalities, including four in the Pas-de-Calais. (Wikepedia)



Margate has maintained ties with Dunkerque forged through time and cemented during the evacuation in 1940, when 46,000 Allied troops landed on Margate Beach. Each town holds a box of sand from the others beach to commemorate the occasion.

Margate is a seaside town in Kent, which has been a significant coastal port since the Middle Ages, but is now better known for its burgeoning art scene, with studios and galleries peppered around the town in custom built and repurposed buildings.

Straits Committee

Believing that closer cooperation between the territories bordering the Dover Strait area and the Channel-North Sea region can create new opportunities for residents, businesses, local stakeholders and communities, six local authorities from four countries – the Département du Nord and the Département du Pas-de-Calais (France), the Province of West Flanders and the Province of East Flanders (Belgium), the Province of Zeeland (the Netherlands) and the Kent County Council (United Kingdom) – launched The Straits Committee in 2020.

The Straits Committee is a multilateral forum for dialogue, providing a flexible framework for its members to work together within the boundaries of their responsibilities, and for extending cooperation to local stakeholders such as from the voluntary sector, education or the world of business. The member authorities meet up to four times a year at the Straits Executive Committee where each authority is represented by an elected official.


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