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New and expanded events programme, inaugurating new spaces for debate and learning at the RA

THE Royal Academy of Arts has announced a new and expanded public programme of events for 2018, ahead of the unveiling of its transformed campus on Saturday, May 19, 2018 and as part of the celebrations of its 250th anniversary year.

The new 250-seat double-height Benjamin West Lecture Theatre will become a hub for conversation and lively debate, while the Clore Learning Centre will provide a permanent home for the RA’s ambitious Learning Programme of talks and workshops for schools, families and community groups, as well as courses and classes for adult learners.

The transformative redevelopment of the RA, led by David Chipperfield Architects and supported by the National Lottery, will link Burlington House and Burlington Gardens for the first time, uniting the two-acre campus.

This will provide 70% more space than the RA’s original Burlington House footprint, enabling the RA to increase its events and exhibition programme as well as creating new and free displays of art and architecture across the campus for visitors year-round.

Learning has been at the heart of the Royal Academy since 1768 with its founding principle to deliver a public programme that promotes the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate.

Today, the RA’s programme of events engages with diverse audiences in the practice and study of art and architecture through creative, hands-on experiences, involving people in exploring and debating art of the past and the present, and working with community groups to bring the RA to new audiences, widening their participation in the arts. A range of academic programmes including courses and classes at the RA offer opportunities for learning from arts professionals and practitioners.

Tim Marlow, Artistic Director at the Royal Academy of Arts, said: “The new Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Clore Learning Centre and the Wolfson British Academy Room will enable us to significantly expand our public programming in 2018 and beyond, animating our new campus with a rich, diverse and inspiring programme of talks, festivals, tours and events for all ages.

“The RA has always been a hub for learning and debate and alongside consolidating our role as an institution for artists and architects, we have the opportunity to reach the broadest possible audience, helping us realise our mission to promote the understanding, appreciation and practice of art and architecture.”

Inaugural Lecture with David Chipperfield RA – May 21

To celebrate the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary and the launch of the new Royal Academy, Sir David Chipperfield RA will give the inaugural address in the Benjamin West Lecture Theatre.

The Successful Artist? – June 21 – 23.

This series of events, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will explore who and what defines a successful artist today. The series will feature panel discussions, roundtables, a creative surgery and an artist manifesto workshop with contributors including Head of RA Schools Eliza Bonham Carter, artist Yinka Shonibare MBE RA and artist-run organisation Auto Italia South East.

Architecture Awards Week – July 2 – 6.

A week-long public celebration of architecture will include the live announcement of the Royal Academy Dorfman Award winner on Wednesday, July 4, and an address on Monday, July 2 by Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa, recipient of the first Royal Academy Architecture Prize, generously supported by The Dorfman Foundation. The awards, alongside the new Architecture Studio within The Dorfman Senate Room and reinvigorated Architecture programme, will place the RA at the heart of a global discourse on architecture and the key role it plays in our society.

RA Festival of Ideas – September 7 – 16.

The 10-day festival will play host to a meeting of great minds from across the spheres of art, architecture, literature, design, dance and music for ten days of electric debate and discussion.

Headline speakers including musician and artist Goldie; artistic director of English National Ballet Tamara Rojo; artist and designer Es Devlin; Charlie & Lola author and illustrator, and Waterstones Children’s Laureate Lauren Child; artist and Royal Academician Gilbert & George; and Man Booker Prize winning novelist Howard Jacobson, will discuss their creative practice, and share ideas on current cultural, social and political themes.

Building on the RA’s heritage of rigorous debate, the festival will explore culture, creativity and critical thinking through a series of interviews, conversations and panel discussions as well as offering a range of family workshops in the Clore Learning Centre.

The Rothschild Foundation Lecture – September 17.

This year’s annual Rothschild Foundation Lecture will be with Dr Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMind, a neuroscience-inspired AI company which develops general-purpose learning algorithms and uses them to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The Rothschild Lecture is the first in a series of annual lectures, generously supported by the Rothschild Foundation.

RA250 Birthday Party – December 8.

To conclude the celebrations of the RA’s 250th anniversary, the RA250 Birthday Party will be curated in partnership with University of the Arts London. The festivities comprise artist installations, performances, creative activities, film screenings and immersive experiences across the campus.


Audiences will be able to connect with some of the world’s most celebrated artists and architects, through a series of In-Conversations, discussing their practice and career. Highlights will feature award-winning artist and co-ordinator of this year’s 250th Summer Exhibition, Grayson Perry RA in conversation with the Royal Academy’s Artistic Director Tim Marlow (Wednesday, June 13) and Philosopher Jacques Rancière in conversation with architect and Royal Academician Farshid Moussavi (Monday, October 8).

RA Learning Programme

The RA’s expanded Learning Programme will provide audiences with an in-depth insight into the RA, its Collection and buildings with free introductory tours to the new RA, along with thematic cross-campus tours focusing on the RA Collection and taster talks exploring individual works of art, objects or architectural elements, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

RA Schools

Visitors can learn more about the RA Schools and the UK’s only free post-graduate course through in-gallery talks and discussions in the Weston Studio, led by the RA Schools’ students.

Free events for Families, Schools, and Community Partners

A series of Clore Learning Centre free workshops for primary, secondary and SEND schools and FE colleges, supported by Boeing. Together with monthly family drop-in sessions and holiday family workshops, as well as workshops for the RA’s many community partners, these free events will enable all age groups to be inspired by the RA and enjoy the practice of making art.

RA Academic Programmes

An innovative programme of adult courses and classes includes the history of theory of art, art business and practice, led by world-renowned art world professionals, international scholars, RA experts and Royal Academicians. These will be held in the new Wolfson British Academy Room and activities will range from developing practical skills in life drawing, oil painting and new media, to learning about fundraising in the arts, collections management and connoisseurship.

There will also be a selection of six-day intensive summer courses on offer in July and September exploring curating today, teaching methods pioneered by the RA Schools, and the practice and theory of colour and light.

Exhibitions programme

A series of talks and events will also accompany the Royal Academy’s 2018 exhibition programme Tacita Dean: LANDSCAPE, Summer Exhibition 2018, The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition, Renzo Piano, Oceania and Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna.

Image: The Lecture Theatre in 2018. Image credit: David Chipperfield Architects.