On Thursday 19th August, Mike Fraser and Alastair Dunning visited Dartington College of Arts, proposed hosts for DRH2006. Generally, we were impressed with the facilities available at Dartington and recommend that the College's offer to host should be accepted.
Chris Pressler, Director of Academic Services at Dartington College and potential local organiser for DRH2006 hosted the visit and showed us around the facilities. The agenda for the visit is appended.
We also met with Vice-principal Claire Donovan, who reiterated the college's enthusiasm for hosting a conference of the standing of DRH. Both Claire and Chris were very keen to exploit digital work being done at Dartington, plus the general performing / visual arts culture of the college. There was much discussion of drawing much more of arts / performing strand into the content of the DRH for that year. Claire expressed a slight concern that a small college like Dartington would need to spend funds upfront. However, she did not believe this to be a great concern and would consult further with the in-coming Principal and the CEO of the Dartington Trust. (Note: Chris Pressler subsequently confirmed that the incoming Principal and the Director of the Dartington Hall Trust - who is in charge of the overall grounds and facilities that incorporate the College - were also fully supportive of the bid.)
There are numerous, studios, halls and seminar rooms available at Dartington, which are often rotated to suit different purposes (music, theatre, teaching, cinema etc.).
The possible major rooms for plenary sessions were the Great Hall and the Barn Theatre. Both were impressive spaces. It was agreed that the former, which holds over 300, would require blackout facilities for use with data projectors. The Barn Theatre holds 185 which may be a few seats short for a full plenary session.
The Barn Theatre
There were a variety of different seminar rooms available for DRH break-out sessions. Some were a slight distance from the central part of the campus, which may prove a problem if there was any rain, but new buildings closer by were being constructed (opening in Oct 2004-2005), and it seems likely these will be usable for DRH. Full network / data projection capabilities were available in each room
There was no immediately obvious space for exhibitions / posters, but there should be enough available space to organise this, whilst ensuring it remains at the centre of the conference.
Possible Seminar Room
At present, there are only a limited number of ensuite rooms available on site. However, the college is planning to open a new hall of residence with ensuite rooms by 2005/6 which will be able to cater the numbers expected at a DRH conference. If for some reason these facilities were not available in time then there are further student accommodation (shared bathroom) on campus together with accommodation in Totnes itself. It was agreed that if significant number of delegates stayed in Totnes (about 1.5 miles away) then the College would arrange a shuttle transport service.
The grounds and general ambience at Dartington were stunning and, especially if the sun shines as it did for us, this will be one of most impressive locations for hosting a DRH conference.
Alastair Dunning / Michael Fraser, August 2004
Possible Plenary Speaker