East Street Arts has selected 20 artist-led organisations across England to join its GUILD project, a comprehensive programme of research, mentoring, tailored support, and infrastructure and space development.

The Arts Council England-supported initiative was created in 2018 by the Leeds-based organisation in partnership with a-n The Artist Information Company, Key Fund, University of Salford, University of Leeds, Stockholm Institute for Environment and Locality.

Over the next three years, GUILD will explore how towns and cities can develop and support artists’ spaces. It will look at how spaces can sustain creative practice and how artists can work with developers and communities to create the kind of sustainable spaces that meet the changing needs of the sector. In doing it, it hopes to determine what form the artists’ spaces of the future will take.

The organisations selected for GUILD are: Abingdon Studios, Blackpool; Artworks, Halifax; Assembly House in Leeds; Margate-based Bon Volks Studios; Double Elephant Print Workshop, Exeter; Dyad Creative, Norwich; Fish Factory, Penryn, Cornwall; Shy Bairns, Salford; Haarlem Artspace, Wirksworth, Derbyshire; Bristol-based Bricks; Southampton’s K6 Gallery; Leeds-based Live Art Bistro (LAB); Navigator North, Middlesbrough; Ort Gallery, Balsall Heath in Birmingham; PROFORMA from Greater Manchester; The Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading; The Penthouse, Manchester/Salford; Two Queens, Leicester; Caraboo, Bristol; and Manchester-based The Travelling Heritage Bureau.

Karen Watson, artistic director at East Street Arts, said: “We are really looking forward to developing the relationships and getting to know the artists’ spaces involved within the GUILD programme. We started East Street Arts as two artists over 25 years ago and have learned a lot about the artist-led sector and their value and impact.”

Daniel Cutmore, relationship manager at Arts Council England, said the selected organisations “represent a snap-shot of the different contexts and challenges in which many artists operate”.

He added: “Given the changes in the nature and pace of urban development, working with property owners, GUILD will generate new learning for the wider sector on approaches to business resilience, operating models and new opportunities for entrepreneurship and income generation.”

GUILD will establish a programme of support that will include toolkits, business models and artistic development programmes. It will also lobby and seek to influence funding bodies, local authorities, community and regeneration bodies for support for artists’ spaces, advocating for flexible solutions to embedding arts spaces and artists within cities and towns centres.

Julie Lomax, chief executive of a-n, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with GUILD and East Street Arts to support a cohort of artist-led spaces across England to enhance and sharpen their professional skills and to shape and influence the future provision of work space and artist development in England.

“Artist-led spaces and projects are important to sustaining artistic practice, offering the space for experimentation, research and the production of new work, all of which builds an international reputation for the UK, brings communities together and contributes to the UK economy.

“Collaborative and collective in spirit, they are becoming increasingly vulnerable and required to navigate and shape-shift through a complex set of structures and relationships.”

For more about each of the selected organisations see eaststreetarts.org.uk

1. Artists Roseanne Robertson and Debbie Sharp, founders of Northern-based The Penthouse, performing at HOME Manchester, one of 20 organisations selected to take part in East Street Art’s GUILD programme. Photo: Jamie Allan
2. Hannah Turner Wallis and Théodora Lecrinier founders of Norwich-based studios Dyad Creative, one of 20 selected to take part in East Street Art’s GUILD programme. Photo: Andi Sapey

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