Our Learning and Participation Programme works with learners from 0 to 99 years old. We believe that everybody is an artist.

Our goal is to ensure that every learner who interacts with the gallery, either online or in person, feels the gallery belongs to them. We strive to be an open and inclusive environment and to work hard to develop learners as confident, imaginative individuals.

Everybody is an Artist – Schools Programme

Our workshops for students focus on one art-based skill which is explored through the lens of one of our popular learning themes.

All the skills and themes support national curriculum study at Key Stages 2 and 3 and can be used to augment classroom work on art and literacy.

We also run a CPD Programme for teachers and teaching assistants, to help them to feel empowered and upskilled when using artworks as a resource in both the gallery and the classroom.

Our training sessions focus on creating school-wide schemes of work for Art and Design and the ‘teaching backwards’ pedagogy.

For more information on booking student workshops, go to ‘Your School Visit’ or check the Events page for CPD sessions.

Pearls of the Sea

Pearls of the Sea is Hastings Contemporary’s flagship Learning Project. The project is designed to:

  • Enable young people to have access to Hastings Contemporary, raising their aspirations and supporting learning and creative development
  • Create access to quality arts and cultural experiences for children and young people in Hastings
  • Engage parents and the wider community, introducing them to Hastings Contemporary and its value as a cultural resource in our community

Pearls of the Sea has been designed to support teacher development. The project:

  • Equips teachers with the skills they need to have a successful trip to a gallery
  • Encourages teachers to explore different teaching methods through Continual Professional Development workshops

Young Artists

In October 2018, the gallery launched its first major young people’s programme, ‘Young Artists’.

Originally funded by the Hastings Opportunity Area Programme, this programme works with young people aged 10 and 11, outside of school.

Hastings Contemporary offers young people the opportunity to make the gallery their creative home in Hastings. The group is a safe space for young people to develop self-confidence, discipline and creativity.

Hospice Programme

The Hospices Programme is for families under the care of Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice.

We take special care in creating environments in which parents and siblings of children with life limiting and life shortening conditions can enjoy engaging, creative activities as a family unit, with no anxiety about the general public.

Activities we have offered in recent sessions include painting, print making, storytelling, music, wildlife drawing, supersized collaging, animation and photography.

Your School Visit

Our schools workshops focus on one art-based skill which is explored through the lens of one of our popular learning themes.

For example, you might choose ‘painting’ as your skill, and ‘Hastings and the sea’ as your theme. You would draw inspiration from the stunning beaches around the gallery and work as artists to discover how different kinds of paint and different painting techniques can be used to represent the environment.

The artist educators who run the workshops will adjust their planning to ensure they are pitched correctly for your group, responding to the student’s prior knowledge and making room for any special requirements that you may have.

Choose one skill…

  • Mark making
  • Painting
  • 3D Construction
  • Print making
  • Writing
  • Other- if you’re interested in exploring other skills and materials (like animation, clay work or specialist painting processes) then please contact the Learning Team

Choose one theme…

  • Hastings and the sea
  • Me, myself and I
  • An artist in focus
  • If you are interested in exploring other themes then please contact the Learning Team

Getting practical 

  • The workshops last for 1.5 – 2 hours depending on your needs
  • Before or after the session you are free to explore the gallery by yourselves
  • The gallery opens at 11:00 and closes at 17:00
  • For information on self-guided visits and learning resources including costs please contact us using the details below

To find out more, contact us:
Tel: +44 (0)1424 834635

Community & Adult Learning

Our programming encourages a wide range of community visitors. We are committed to inspiring, stimulating creativity, and providing proven benefits to mental health and wellbeing. We work to ensure access needs are met, a warm welcome provided, and any physical or psychological barriers removed which may prevent participants from feeling at ease in our spaces, mindful of the oasis of peace and tranquillity a gallery can provide.

Drawing Life

Picasso said it took him a lifetime to learn to draw like a child. Drawing Life offers people with nearly a lifetime behind them the chance to respond to a life model with a stick of charcoal and a piece of paper, bringing life drawing activities to local people living with dementia and their carers. Each class takes place with two professional artist educators and a life model. The act of drawing encourages concentration and engagement and helps carers connect with people living with dementia in new ways.  Drawing Life classes are open to the public and free of charge.

To find out more and see future dates, please visit our events page.

WEA Art History

This popular weekly course is the seventh WEA Art History Series held at Hastings Contemporary, currently led by tutor Louise Simkiss-Day. Louise is an experienced museums and galleries professional with over ten years’ experience, including Compton Verney and Royal Museums Greenwich. She trained at Goldsmiths, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. The course offers a unique opportunity to explore and discuss works on display in the gallery, followed by lively and thought-provoking discussions in the inclusive and friendly environment of the learning Studio. Key social, political and cultural events and influences will also be evaluated in order to put specific artworks into context. Though some prior knowledge of art history is useful, it is not essential.

To find out more, including dates, times and booking options, please visit our events page.


We were delighted to partner with Home Live Art for Nando Messias’ The (Almost) Pink Supper performance for the Knotty Festival and excited to be planning a series of future collaborations and performances at the gallery.

Home Live Art produce and curate artist led, participatory work, bringing experimental live art and inter-disciplinary work into both mainstream & community sectors.