Reader 2017

The Entrance Gap

A Study Of Admissions Procedures At The Willem De Kooning Academy

Teana Boston-Mammah

Abstract — This study seeks to establish, inspired by the widening participation discourse,[1] what the admissions criteria for an art and design school in Rotterdam are. This research focused on interviews with ten admissions staff over the period of one year. The analysis draws on the work of various scholars, Bourdieu (1990, 1993, 1997), Burke (2002, 2011) and McManus (2006, 2011), who have expounded exponentially on how the labels ‘creative potential’ and ‘original’ are infused with specific notions arising from a very particular class and ethnic location. The transparency of selection criteria lies at the core of this work. Asking the question, who is being selected for the art school and on what grounds? Key references for discussion on terminology of difference centres around the work of race and critical theorists; Ahmed (2012), Hall (1991, 1992, 19996, 2013), Wekker (2016), el-Tayeb (2011) and Baumann (1996).

[1] This preliminary research Making Differences (2011) was conducted by the Institute for Art Education (Zurich University) to gain a first understanding of inequality in the field of Higher Art Education and to assess possibilities of impacting on current practices within art schools. It was conducted at three art schools in Zurich, Bern and Geneva entailing a survey among candidates who had applied and were in the admissions process (700 respondents), and 19 qualitative interviews with heads of Bachelor degree courses.

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