Community seems to be the key to success for shared creative workspaces. Community, and the support of a sympathetic local authority. That’s according to all four speakers at our latest event, where we unveiled the findings of our creative space survey (download the presentation here) and heard from the people behind Bristol’s Spike Island and Paintworks, along with Green Park Station and Bath Artists’ Studios about how their models work.
Read about the evening below and check out the rest of the images, supplied by Lee Burman (of www.leeburmanphotography.com ) on our flickr page here.
Amy Mason, the coordinator from Spike Design talked us through what’s on offer at the largest design incubator in the South West. Spike Island was originally established by an artists’ trust, who raised the £400,000 needed to buy the property. Spike Design, the business incubator within the development, now offers an open-plan studio/office space and a range of business support to small creative enterprises.
Paintworks caters for larger scale businesses than the hot-deskers at Spike Design. Tim Pain, from Verve Properties, described the obstacles Verve had to overcome in developing Paintworks into the combined living and work space it is today. The Bocabar and downstairs exhibition space provide the focal point for the development, and Tim also advocated a tenants’ association to build on the sense of community, which has made Paintworks such a success.
Green Park Station in Bath is home to a range of businesses, not just creative ones. Janine Woodward from the Ethical Property Company, which owns the development, talked about the importance of communal space and flexibility of terms. She has a basement space, which would make ideal artists’s studios, pending the investment for its development.
And David Cobley, who set up Bath Artists’ Studios described the cooperative’s genesis and operational structure. The studios currently provide space for nearly sixty artists, but face an uncertain future as their lease expires in December 2011 and they are currently trying to raise the funds for a mortgage.
David has subsequently been in discussions with the Council about a possible tenancy of Kingsmead House, the old DSS building opposite the Odeon in central Bath. He says:
“Being an eight storey building, it is far too big for us to take on by ourselves, so we are in the process of writing to possible partners about forming some sort of consortium in order to be able to make it happen.”
If you are interested in joining David in this venture, please contact the studios on 01225 482480 or email email@example.com.
In addition to our panel, we also heard from Terry Gazzard, the Conservative Councillor for Abbey, who is involved with the development and regeneration of Bath. He advised all interested creatives to come and voice their views at the next Overview & Scrutiny meeting (7th September, venue to be advised, and 9th November at the Guildhall; contact Terry here). Quentin Webster from St James Investments told us about their plans, in partnership with Tesco, to build 3,000 sq m of new creative workspace at the former Bath Press site - that's if their proposed mixed-use development on the Lower Bristol Road is approved (contact Quentin here).
It was a thought-provoking evening, but the strong turn-out indicated the strength of feeling behind the drive to create a Paintworks – or similar multi-occupancy workspace – in Bath, which is home to a thriving creative sector. Email us with your thoughts and ideas about how we might harness that energy and let’s work together to make it happen!