What is Protégé?
15 Years of Transformative Education & Skills Development, turning Exclusion & Disadvantage into Opportunity & Empowerment.
Protégé supports disadvantaged young people who are struggling with school, with life, with learning. Protégé has demonstrated the unique chemistry of artists and young people working together to solve problems, find solutions, overcome obstacles and develop resilience to design their own education and determine their future direction.
Protégé is a unique social experiment, based in action research developed by founding Director, Sabita Kumari-Dass. Protégé's tailored learning methodology has been tried and tested over fifteen years with young people in the driving seat and award-winning artists providing transformative learning and industry standard skills development.
Protégé works in partnership with cultural organizations, the third sector, media agencies and broadcasters committed to social and educational innovation. We work with and disseminate our findings to schools, policy developers, alternative service providers and agencies responsible for the growing number of young people currently out of mainstream education.
Central Saint Martins
Protégé began as an experiment – established in 2006 in partnership with the University of the Arts London, hosted by Central Saint Martins College of Art. Responding to the Every Child Matters, AimHigher and Widening Participation agendas.
Central Saint Martins was an important first home for our action research. In many ways the divergent young people we work with share ‘rebel dna’ with artists who have made it on their own terms. Successful alumni of CSM – people like Jarvis Cocker, Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen – also did not easily ‘fit in’ with conventional learning, but whose innate raw creativity helped them to overcome bullying, adversity, illness, elitism to get their talent recognised so they could make a valued contribution to our culture.
In 2009 Protégé established its constitutional independence and was welcomed by the Somerset House Trust to its new home in the old Victorian Vaults.
This new location offered Protégé students a taste of a different world, enabling them to look at life from a different perspective and feel a sense of belonging to British culture and heritage, working in an location that shared its space with London Fashion Week and other glamorous events. Students realised that learning can happen, not just in schools and colleges but wherever they decide to accept the challenge.
Hill Rise, Richmond
In 2012, Protégé took a brave new direction through a project titled ‘The High Street Experiment‘, taking residence in a customer facing shop environment on the parade of shops on Hill Rise, in Richmond.
Initially imagined as a 3-year initiative to develop the employability and workplace skills of divergent young people. Here, young people learned new skills, curated shows, began to develop their understanding of local business and worked with artists to offer bespoke art and design services to the community.
The boutique gallery in Richmond became a dynamic space for students to work with our artists and creatives, and a place where they could implement their newly learned skills almost immediately.
Floods, Fires, and Plagues
In 2018 Protégé had to evacuate their premises on Hill Rise due to excessive flood damage. Following a brutal winter the pipes of the building froze, and then burst.
In late-2019 Protégé took up residence in Gunnersbury Park House, in the caretakers flat. At the beginning of 2020 work began with a new cohort - recently arrived migrants. Protégé began early research and development for the project that would become 'Motherland'. However, by March 2020 the UK locked down in the face of the global pandemic.
During lockdown Protégé had to once again find new premises due to a fire at Gunnersbury House.
Great West Gallery
In 2021 Protégé found a space in Brentford. Another public facing space that could build on the achievements of Hill Rise, and with more space to push in more ambitious directions.
Using a combination of remote work and socially distanced work Protégé developed the space into the 'Great West Gallery'. An independent space to showcase new art; profiling international, established & emerging artists. Serving as West London’s new home for energizing diverse dialogues in contemporary art.
The following links will link to project pages on the Protégé website - www.protegetv.co.uk
The foundational work for 'Motherland'. Beginning with research of the extraordinary women who, unknown to them, were instrumental in changing the course of human history. Working with recently arrived refugees to uncover the rich untold stories of a remarkable generation of mothers who came in waves of migration from India and Africa and settled in the UK in the 1960’s.
The boutique gallery in Richmond that became a dynamic space for students to work with artists and creatives. The Protégé collection featured revolving degree show work created by graduates fresh from the UK’s prestigious art colleges, including Chelsea College of Art, the Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins, New Bucks University, Northbrook College and others.
Exploring the boundless world of traditional and contemporary musicianship as a platform for self-expression. Partnering with the British Library to explore their library archives and research the rich heritage of UK music, young people and music industry professionals work together to create a remix album of classic songs about the teenage experience.