Art Party: coming to a cinema near you

Published 21 August 2014

A new film by Bob and Roberta Smith RA and Tim Newton has its first screening at the RA.

  • Visitors to this year’s RA Summer Exhibition will remember Bob and Roberta Smith RA’s painting Letter to Michael Gove, which he created in 2011 as an impassioned response to the then Education Secretary’s proposals for the British secondary school syllabus.

  • Installation view of the Lecture Room in Summer Exhibition 2014, curated by Cornelia Parker RA

    Photo: Benedict Johnson

  • A 2013 event in Scarborough - The Art Party - continued this theme, with fellow artists such as Cornelia Parker RA and Jeremy Deller joining art teachers, students and others in championing the important of arts education. Now, there’s a film inspired by the event - released today to coincide with the announcement of GCSE results.

    Smith and his collaborator, the filmmaker Tim Newton, describe it as “part documentary, part road movie and part political fantasy.” Without giving too much away, it combines scenes filmed at last year’s event with a fictional storyline that sees the politician ‘Michael Grove’ making a last-minute decision to visit the event and stand up to his detractors.

    Today saw the first official screening of Art Party in the UK, in the historic Life Room of the RA Schools.

  • Video

    Watch the trailer for 'Art Party'

  • “It feels really good that the Royal Academy, which has the first art school in the country, is the first venue to screen the film,” Bob and Roberta Smith says.

    “There are art parties like this happening all over the UK – The Hepworth Wakefield, the Towner, Baltic, FACT in Liverpool, the Arnolfini, Turner Contemporary – it’s all happening. There are 34 venues across the country.”

    While the Art Party release date is a moment of celebration, the filmmakers have a serious point to make.

    “We’re worried that there was a 14 percent drop off in people choosing art subjects at school between 2010 and now. There are 1,500 fewer art A-level candidates this year than there were in 2012. The subject is in decline in schools, and we want to know why,” Bob and Roberta Smith says.

    “Even though Gove has now gone, his policies are still having an effect,” Tim Newton adds.

  • Bob and Roberta Smith and Tim Newton in the RA Schools with the 'Art Party' limited edition print

    Photo: Royal Academy of Arts

  • To coincide with the launch of Art Party the film, Bob and Roberta Smith has created an Art Party limited edition print in collaboration with the RA Schools.

    “It’s a pop-art collage of faces from the film. I hope lots of people will buy the print because it supports the RA Schools which provides the only free postgraduate art course in the country,” Smith says.

  • Art Party is now in cinemas across the UK. Visit to find out about screenings. It is also available on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday 22 August.
    For information on how to buy the Art Party limited edition print, please email


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