HEREFORD'S College of Arts would normally be preparing for their degree show and other end of course exhibitions and performances at this time of year, throwing open their doors to the public.

But this summer, the degree show and graduation ceremony is delayed, with an interim digital celebration of creativity from across all the year groups taking place instead.

Staff at the college have continued to teach remotely through lockdown, with seminars, tutorials, lectures and individual technical guidance all going online.

Principal Abigail Appleton said she was enormously proud of the staff and students who have continued to work hard despite the circumstances, and stressed the importance of the arts for society.

"As a smaller, specialist institution we pride ourselves on bespoke support and we are trying to give our students the fullest experience they can have despite the pandemic," Ms Appleton said.

" I think it’s more important than ever that we urge our city and county to take a look at work students have managed to do during lockdown and celebrate with us.

"I believe creative lives and creative education will be more important than ever as we come through the pandemic. Lockdown has highlighted the importance of creative activity to many people, and our mental health will need this support long after the lockdown lifts, so we’re developing HCA’s website to host a new collection of creativity tips and ‘how to guides’ from HCA staff to help support continued creativity in the home.

"But our society also desperately needs creativity and innovation to develop the economy. It’s great to see the value Herefordshire businesses and Herefordshire Council put on culture and arts to help make our region more attractive. HCA’s collaboration with Hereford’s Business Investment District (BID) led to the launch of the Ferrous Festival which attracted thousands of people into the city centre last year, and we look forward to developing Ferrous and other stand-out events in future."

Ms Appleton said regulatory and funding pressures have squeezed the offer of arts subjects in schools, but that growing numbers of both younger and mature students are applying for their courses, both at college and degree level, while applications to their Digital Futures programme have soared.

"Hereford is one of very few UK cities to retain its own independent specialist arts schools, now almost 170 years old," she said.

"We are part of Hereford’s future as well as the city’s past and as we face life beyond the pandemic, I believe HCA’s creative students, past, present and future, can help us all reflect, question, reimagine, and enrich our world."

HCA is running digital drop ins throughout the summer for anyone curious as to how creative education might support their journey.