Hundreds of students graduating from the Norwich University College of the Arts (Nuca) yesterday were told their creative talents were more in demand than ever.

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About 400 artists, designers, photographers, film makers and animators were recognised during three ceremonies at the city’s St Andrew’s Hall.

The students have spent the past few years working hard on their diplomas, foundation degrees, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in a range of disciplines spanning art, media and design.

Addressing students during the lunch time ceremony, chair of governors Graham Creelman told them their skills would be more in demand than ever as they entered a difficult jobs market. “You are probably sick to the teeth of people telling you how difficult the graduate market is. I have been saying something like that from this platform since 2008,” he said. “Times are still tough, but I think there is a change out there.

“I hope it has been increasingly understood that art and artists are not just decorative additions to the economy. They are essential if we are to move out of this rut in which we seem to be stuck.”

Joining students for their special day were family, friends, a host of faculty members, including proud Nuca principal John Last and students’ union president Mike Hewes. He told the graduates: “Think back to when you came here. You are probably more professional, more organised and more capable. You have gained a lot more than a degree certificate.”

Each of yesterday’s graduation ceremonies also saw an honorary doctorate awarded to an inspirational figure in the creative arts industry.

David Juda, owner of the Annely Juda gallery in London representing artists including David Hockney and Anthony Caro, was honoured during the morning ceremony celebrating art and postgraduate students.

Former University of East Anglia student Adrian Wootton, pictured left with John Last, who is chairman of the London Film Council, received his doctorate alongside Nuca’s media students.

And critically-acclaimed illustrator Graham Rawle was awarded his honorary degree as part of the final ceremony of the day for design students.

Thanking Nuca for his honour, Mr Wootton, who is chief executive of Film London and charged with promoting British film, said his career had begun in Norwich. While completing his film and television studies at UEA, he had worked at Cinema City in Norwich. “I started working in that cinema, tearing tickets, cleaning loos,” he said.

“Without that formative experience – starting very much at the bottom – I don’t think I would have ever got into cinema exhibition and had the great, great pleasure and fun I have had over the last 25 years, being involved in the making, the talking about and the writing about movies.”

He called his return the Norwich a “homecoming” and said he was looking forward to many return visits in the future as he takes on the role of visiting professor in film and media at Nuca.

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