Our Story

The Open College of the Arts was founded in 1987 by Michael Young, Lord Young of Dartington, the driving force behind numerous citizen-centred and educational initiatives such as the Consumers Association, the National Extension College and the Open University.

Young’s original vision was to offer the general public the chance to take high quality arts courses by distance learning education, without prior qualifications or restrictions. He saw the OCA as a means of transforming people’s lives, giving them the opportunity and skills to express their creative talents under the guidance of professional artists. We still live by those values.

Today the OCA is a thriving educational charity whose charitable purpose is to widen participation in arts education. Over 2000 students each year now study creative and visual arts courses and degrees by open learning with us. OCA strategy is determined by a Board of Trustees. Our head offices are on the site of a former colliery in Barnsley, South Yorkshire and all of our tutors work from their homes or studios.