MY family has roots in the South West but my sister and I were born and raised in the East Midlands.

We have both returned, my sister arriving first in the late 1980s to teach fashion at the art college in Salisbury.

Because of that I became aware that the college had a reputation for quality.

In the art world a good art school can be as important for kudos as an influential art gallery, something worth keeping in mind when lobbying for what remains of public money.

As a newcomer, I don’t have a good idea of the history or current reputation of Wiltshire College, but I do have some contact with students on the film production course.

This is usually because they contact me with small requests, but on one occasion last year it was me who needed help.

A final year student taught me all I needed to know about digital editing, and then directed a short film idea for me.

His single-mindedness was impressive: he knew exactly what he wanted from a career and was prepared for any sacrifice to make it happen.

This year I have been filmed by a group of first year students answering questions on the subject of neuroaesthetics.

We all discovered, once the cameras were rolling, that it is a subject about which I know very little. They were very polite about it and seemed to think they got something worth using.

A second-year group also approached me with a request to film in my studio. In the end they found a better location and I simply loaned them some equipment. These guys were shooting on real film, I was interested to learn, which technically is much more demanding than digital recording, with its instant retakes.

They all showed a professional attitude and were very easy to work with; I’m sure there are many people in Salisbury who would be happy to help in such cases.

It seems to me there is little interaction between the college students and the city, but I do know of the Magic Lantern film networking group that meets at the Arts Centre.

I asked the second-year students if they would consider going along: they protested they were far too busy.

Magic Lantern used to meet monthly, but now only bi-monthly, so this seems a pity.

But I believe the students were being honest. The reality today is that they owe us nothing: they pay for the ‘privilege’ of education and need to be single-minded.

It’s the city that needs to reach out to them if we wish to present Salisbury as a cultural centre.

Martin Urmson

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