In response to Covid-19, we have closed the office and relocated most of our programmes online. On Wednesday 8 July, the Despacito Art School will resume its weekly activities online and on the streets of Cliftonville through a summer-long doorstep programme. All other public activities will resume in September. Until then, please visit the Public Events & Short Courses page to find out about activities taking place offline.

Established in 2013, Open School East is a Margate-based space for artistic and collaborative learning that is free, informal, versatile and non-exclusive. We equip artists at an early stage of their career with the tools to become resourceful and self-sufficient, and enable young people and adults alike to develop confidence and life skills, and shape their creative voice by becoming active learners and co-producers of OSE’s programmes.

We run a range of complementary programmes with and for communities less likely to access traditional provision. These are:

  • The Associates Programme: a year-long development programme for emerging artists and cultural practitioners from diverse backgrounds and generations;
  • The Young Associates Programme: a full-time, year-long, accredited art and design programme for local young people aged 16-18 who experience difficulty in their education;
  • The Despacito Art School: a weekly art, craft and functional object-making programme open to 5 to 12 year olds who lack opportunities to develop creatively;
  • The Public Programme: a multifaceted programme of events, activities and short courses open to everyone.

Open School East is committed to making the arts a more open sector and to fostering meaningful cultural and social exchanges between artists and the broader public. We do this by making our programmes entirely free of charge and opening them outwards, responding to our locality, and providing an informal and welcoming environment for the development and sharing of knowledge and skills across all communities and generations.

Open School East strives to be a self-scrutinising and adaptable organisation; accordingly, it keeps its doors open to change and places access, in its widest sense, at the centre of its agenda.

Download our 2013-142015201620172018 and 2019 booklets here.

Short history and location

Open School East was founded in 2013 in East London, where it operated from the first floor of the Rose Lipman Community Centre and former library in De Beauvoir Town for three years. In 2017 we relocated to Margate, Kent, and set base on the ground floor of the Pettmans building, under Resort Studios in the Cliftonville area of Margate. Throughout 2019 OSE operated from two locations in Margate: the first floor of the Adult Education Centre, formerly the Thanet School of Art and Crafts (1931-74), and the ground floor of CRATE Studio and Project Space. In July 2020 we moved to a 5-storey Georgian building, at 39 Hawley Square.