The National Gallery School of Visual Art and Design's vision is to be the leading platform for the professional development of artistic talent in the areas of art practice, teaching and research.
The school is committed to building a creative economy where people's improved livelihood and national distinctiveness are at the centre of development through artistic activities. The National Gallery School of Visual Arts and Design, has a strong mandate and is the leading institution that produces independent practicing artists.
Studio space is available for students and young upcoming artists are exposed to art career opportunities through exposure to art making and residencies at home and abroad. In essence, one does not only receive training in art, but is educated in the world that surrounds us. Through art practice, students acquire networking skills for self sustenance.
The roots of the National Gallery School of Visual Art and Design are found in Frank McEwen's atelier style Workshop School, which applied the teachings of Gustave Moreau to the indigenous would-be artists of Zimbabwe, then known as Southern Rhodesia. The National Gallery Workshop School was created to encourage the Gallery attendants to express themselves using art materials and was responsible for nurturing the talents of reputable artists such as Henry Munyaradzi, Nicholas Mukomberanwa and Kingsley Sambo. A majority of what is now known as the First Generation of Zimbabwean Stone Sculptors, were enrolled in the Workshop School.
The Workshop School not only perfected the skills of indigenous would-be artists but gave them international recognition. Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture became a Movement which was stylistically developed from the Gallery and marketed in such a way that many of the First Generation artists were alumni of the School and in many ways, laid a foundation for the School's future incarnations. With McEwen's departure from the Rhodes National Gallery, as it was known, in 1973; the Workshop School was disbanded.
After independence in 1980, a new formal school was established known as the BAT Workshop Studio, the goal was to provide arts education for disadvantaged youths, returning ex-combatants and any unemployed and talented other young people. The BAT Studio was facilitated with the kind benefaction of British American Tobacco Zimbabwe Limited, whom over the next two decades supported in the development of Visual Art in a time which was the nation's most formative period. A wide spectrum of creative people was enrolled thereafter, with however, the same vision as its Workshop School forebear. The emphasis at this point in time had expanded to different disciplines which included metal sculpture, painting and printmaking.
The BAT Studio made leaps in taking art to the people, as aside from the instruction of Visual Art to predominantly underprivileged youth, Outreach Programmes such as the Art Moves platform made it possible to transport Artworks to the furthest enclaves of Zimbabwe.
In keeping with tradition, the school's instructors were dominantly practising artists, which meant the Atelier approach had been reintroduced to fully aid in skills development that was largely being offered to individuals who had potential based on their evident Psycomotor skills. Many students who graduated from the went on to establish themselves as locally, regionally and internationally recognised artists.
The Studio was sponsored by the Norwegian Embassy once the BAT support came to an end in 2000, the school was known as the Visual Art School, this remained the title until 2010. The National Gallery School of Visual Art and Design was formally adopted in 2011 as a result of a brainstorming with a wide variety of individuals in the creative sector.
Throughout its existence, the nature of its cause was mainly practical causes were introduced in 2011 under the tutelage of the Curator of Education, Tashinga Matindike-Gondo. In 2014, the School forged a working relationship with Harare Polytechnic and thereafter, a formal certificate was introduced in collaboration with the Polytechnic. The Certificate is offered either as one for Competence or a Higher Education Examinations Council Certificate.
During 2016, the School is now recognised to enrol students with prerequisite Form Four school Certificate qualifications to embark upon the Diploma in Art.