The Artsmark award has previously only been awarded to schools that champion their artwork, but has been revised by the Arts Council for the 2015/16 academic year to include further education providers.
Hartlepool College was one of only five colleges in the country to be selected for the revamped pilot scheme, and had the honour of being the first college to be awarded with the prestigious Artsmark honour.
The honour is the latest pat on the back for the thriving Art & Design department, and comes on the back of the recent news that Radio 1 had asked students from the College to design event branding for the Ibiza Weekend music festival taking place in the summer.
Students have also had the chance to create some unique work for Ruroc, a firm which manufactures helmets for Formula 1 drivers and pit crew, while a separate project saw them working on promotional material for the launch of the Mini 5-Door.
Keith Bradley, Head of School for Art & Design at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “Artsmark is an endorsement of our pursuit of excellence and recognition as a leading provider of creative education within further education in the North of England.
“We are proud to be a key member of the pilot development for such a prestigious award scheme and honoured to be the first college in the UK to be awarded Artsmark Centre status at FE level via the Arts Council.
“The award will open doors to exciting new creative collaborations, commercial engagement opportunities, regional and national educational partnerships, support networks and opportunities for expansion via additional funding streams, greatly benefiting our students, the College, regional creative sector and the local economy.”
Dr Sarah Gilligan, lecturer in Art & Design and HCFE Artsmark Project Leader, added: “The exclusive invitation to engage with the Artsmark (FE) Pilot was initiated as a direct result of the impressively high level creative work produced by our Foundation Degree Art & Design students as part of a live commercial brief for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) Arts Award Discovery.
“This triggered a unique partnership with Culture Bridge North East, CC Skills and the Arts Council. We are already benefiting from exciting collaborations within the creative sector as a result of the Artsmark (FE) Pilot, which has opened many doors to inspiring development opportunities.
“We’ve already been selected to take a leading Ambassador Role within the development of a Local Cultural Educational Partnership for Tees Valley, which will collaborate with other regional and national partnerships to shape the future of creative education across the North.
“Our involvement will enable the development of exciting projects for both our students and children and young people within the local community, tied to our collaborations with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, and national initiatives STEAM Powered BIG DRAW Festival, in addition to strengthening opportunities for higher education progression and employment.”