Courtauld Lang Syne: Art college says it has ‘learned lessons’ from bagpipes row

Paying the Piper: Art Institute says it has ‘learned lessons’ from incident. Photograph: Pixabay.

A prestigious art institute has said that it has “learned from” concerns raised by neighbours over the sound of bagpipes emanating from its new building.

The Courtauld is using its new premises at Vernon Square, the former home of SOAS University of London, for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching while its Somerset House home undergoes refurbishment.

Residents had raised objections to the Courtauld applying for a licence to serve alcohol at its events, pointing out that the area suffers from a problem with anti-social behaviour relating to drug dealing nearby, and had also complained of noise from bagpipe music coming from the institute.

Cllr Gary Poole (Lab, St Mary’s) had said that his questions for the Courtauld’s head of facilities, Anthony Tyrrell, “concerns bagpipes”: “It may be nothing to do with you, but it stood out.”

Tyrrell confirmed quickly that it was, in fact, to do with the Courtauld.

Cllr Poole said: “This resident’s concerns about that then are valid. It clearly caused some disruption and disturbance to them. That’s the root of their objection to this application, and similar themes are replicated in the other objections.

“You don’t dispute there is someone playing bagpipes at one of your events? Does that not indicate poor consideration for the neighbourhood, or is it something you’ve learnt from?”

Tyrrell responded: “It was our opening party. The Courtauld moved in in January, and we had a celebratory party for Burns Night. And yes, that did involve a person with the bagpipes.

“We’ve certainly learned from that. I wasn’t responsible for organising the event. I would not necessarily have thought that the sound that that caused would have gone as far and wide from out of the premises as it did.

“That clearly is a mistake, and it is my duty to take on board. If there are lessons to learn, it’s that we probably do not have live music playing.”

The Courtauld successfully applied for a licence to serve alcohol at their events, with a proviso that they would not hire out the Vernon Square building for private parties.