Arts without frontiers

13th May 2005 at 01:00
An international foundation will foster creative projects across global boundaries. Jon Slater reports

An ex-girlfriend of Prince Andrew has set up a pound;16 million international foundation to improve arts education and create links between countries.

The Louise T Blouin Foundation, supported by leading arts figures including Damien Hirst, Jeremy Irons and Bianca Jagger, will support research into how children learn, and how they learn to appreciate the arts in particular.

The foundation aims to pilot new approaches to arts and creativity education in schools in developed and developing countries. It will set up links and cultural exchanges between schools and colleges in the UK and their counterparts abroad.

Early projects are likely to include work with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to improve creative education and a study commissioned by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development intended to show the economic importance of arts education.

The international body, launched last week, will operate in Paris and New York, but its headquarters will be in London.

Its mission is to "support cultural development across the globe, disseminate culture beyond borders and generate new knowledge about creativity".

Jeremy Newton, director, will be advised by a panel of 46 leading figures from the arts and science.

After its headquarters are completed next year, the foundation will work with local schools on arts projects. If these succeed they could be a template for other schools in this country and abroad.

Mr Newton said: "We are not saying we have ideas to solve all your problems - there is a lot of research that needs to be done. The American model of a private foundation with a very free hand in terms of what it can support will be unique in the UK. But we can offer something different and take some risks."

Louise T Blouin MacBain is a wealthy Canadian art dealer and chairman of LTB Holdings, one of the world's largest arts magazine publishers.

The 45-year-old divorcee was recently reported to have split from the Duke of York after a year-long affair.

Charles Saumarez Smith, director of the National Gallery and a member of the advisory panel, said: "Everyone in the arts completely understands and sympathises with Louise Blouin's view that culture should be accessible to all."

* jon.slater@tes.co.uk

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