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Unilever helps bring art education to 45,000 children

Unilever’s partnership with the Tate gallery has produced an inspiring legacy for many thousands of current and future schoolchildren across the world.

In October Unilever will end its 12-year sponsorship of the Unilever Series, an annual commission inviting an artist to make a work of art for the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, as it aligns its sponsorship program more with its sustainability goals.

However, Turbinegeneration, the online art education project associated with the Unilever Series, will continue its award winning work. This brings together schools, artists, galleries and cultural institutions from across the world to exchange art and ideas through multimedia and social media.

Since 2007 the program has pioneered thousands of partnerships with 500 schools, 50 artists and 80 galleries in 47 countries getting actively involved.

Making connections

Around 25,000 students currently use the turbinegeneration platform every month to upload images, ideas, sounds and video onto their profile blogs. This starts a conversation which their partners then respond to by downloading and developing existing work or making and uploading another work. In this way, students can explore their own culture through art and learn about the culture of their partners.

Feedback from students and teachers shows that turbinegeneration has helped students to improve their communication skills and boost their confidence as well as extending their knowledge and showing them just how their actions can make a difference.

Michael Clements, a student participant from Central St Martins in the UK which partnered with the Inhotim Instituto in Brazil, said: “It is a totally creative, free flowing process, any idea or suggestion can be followed, the possibilities of the outcome of the project are almost boundless.”

Maria Eugenia, Supervisora de Arte e Educação, Inhotim, Brazil says: “Together we explore each step that makes up a relationship between people and contexts. Whether it is a letter, a Skype conversation or a live meeting, what we will construct in this partnership is a way of communicating as we think critically and poetically about the act of communication. This is a very exciting educational process.”

The Tate is now looking to develop Turbinegeneration into a self-sustaining global community of lifelong learners where content is driven by the users.

Inspiring millions

The Unilever Series, which finishes on 28 October, has seen 13 artists transform the Turbine Hall over the years through from filling it with stacks of white cubes to creating a jagged crack through the middle of the floor. More than 30 million people have seen at one of the works of art since 2000.

This year features the performance art of Tino Sehgal, the first ‘live’ commission of the Unilever Series based on encounters between performers and the audience.

Despite ending the sponsorship, Unilever will continue as a corporate member of the Tate.

Sue Garrard, Unilever SVP communications, says: “We are now planning a change of direction which will fit closely with our company’s mission set out in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan: to double the size of our business while reducing our environmental impact and increasing our positive social impact.”

For more information, visit: turbinegeneration.tate.org.uk.

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