GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS OF DESIGN: DEPARTMENT OF PRACTICAL ART.
20th 4pril 1852.
Sin—In your paper of the 10th 'ou notice the letter circulated by the heads of the new Department of Practical Art. Allow me to say a few words on the subject. Intimate acquaintance with the working of the Branch schools for several years gives me some right to speak, and I fancy it does not require a great amount of experience to recognize the empirical nature of the document.
You are doubtless aware that the antecedents of the gentleman at the head of the new department, and to whom it is said Mr. Redgrave is appended as a makeweight, are inimical to his favourable influence on the schools. He has hitherto, both as "Felix Summerly" and as Mr. Cole, distinguished him- self by agitating against the School of Dmign; and one would have expected in the course of his agitation he would have picked up more knowledge of the weak points of the former management than he seems to have dyne. The following extracts from the letter relate to the grants to provincial schools. The mode of bestowing, and the use made of these grants, are the only points with which I wish at present to meddle.
"The results of the attendance, as indicated by the amount of the feee re- ceived, are very different in different places : thus, each student at York con- tributes annually an average of 11. 48., whilst the. Government contributes 21. Si. 5d. • at Newcastle the student contributes 11. 3s , and the Govern- ment 11. 13s. 8d. In both places the Government grant is only 150/. per annum. At Paisley, where the Government grant is 4001. per annum, the average annual payment of each of the sixty-four students is 19s. lid„ whilst the Government contributes 61. 58., and each student costs the school up, wards of 81. 38. 11d." * * • • "Taking all the Provincial schools, the Government contributes 68.501., exclusive of cost of lectures, examples, and management ; whilst the localities subscribe only 84471.; and even including the fees, contribute only 64311. At Newcastle, Norwich, and York, where the pecuniary aid from the Government is on the lowest scale, the contribu- tions from these localities are proportionably the highest. The total cost of the art-education per student varies from 21. 2s. 7d. a year in Coventry, to 101. its. 2d. in Leeds. The average cost in the Provincial schools Is 41.6s. 5d., and in the Metropolitan school 81. 128.* - a cost considerably higher than such student pays in moat private establishments for instruction in several kinds of drawing. (!) "These results, now for the first time, we believe, brought together, pre-. sent features so various, that a close examination into the state of each school at a future time appears to be necessary, not only to reconcile them with any system of managementi but to deduce those facts which may be useful in enabling other localities to establish schools upon a satisfactory basis."
Now all this calculation, and the wise inferences based upon it, might have been saved hod the new Superintendents been but a little acquainted with the conditiona under which grants have been made to Branch schools. The Plain fact is, that the Government grants have always been confined to the payment of the masters and to the furnishing of examples, &c. On ap- plication for increase of grant, it has been continually replied, that Govern- ment did nothing towards the expenses of the schools except the salaries of the masters and the gifts of examples. When the Board thought any given town important enough to have a good grant, or, that the grant it then held ought to be increased, the said Board raised the salary of the master ! Thus we have the phtenomena of a number of similar appointments all differently paid, varying indeed from 5001. to 1504, irrespective either of ability or amount of work ! Messrs. Cole and Redgrave ought to have known this. If it is possible to conceive anything more absurd than the old system of awarding grants, it may be found in two Superintendents specu- lating so abstrusely, and with so much self-complacency, all the while in childlike innocence as to the facts with which they have to deal. On the other hand, the amount of local support respectively collected is as near as may be the maximum collectable, and bears an exact relation to the interest in the schools existing in the monied population in their localities. We hear a good deal about the indifference to the schools existing in the various towns ; and in Mr. Cole's letter we hear a good deal about making the Branch schools self-supporting. Both the accusation and the hope are based on mistake. In the first place, the money collected, and that paid by students, is nearly equal to the sum these seventeen institutions cost Govern- ment. Apply the same rule to London, what would be the result i The response to a call for subscriptions would possibly be absolutely nil. De- pend upon it, guinea subscriptions to the amount of 34471. annually show considerable interest in the matter. And as for Mr. Cole's chimera of their being self-supporting, realize it by all means, not only in relation to the Provinces, but also to the London doubly expensive school. and to Mr. Cole
'4 Thus, the cost of the Metropolitan school, rent-free, is exactly double that albs Provincial schools! And it is to be recollected that the Metropolitan school is entirety supported by taxation. Let Mr. Cole think of that !