Brokering truly affordable spaces for creative production and cultural consumption.
The creative industries are the fastest-growing sector of the UK economy, accounting for one in every six jobs in the capital alone. However, creative talent and the affordable workspace it needs is becoming increasingly difficult to retain in expensive cities.
The Greater London Authority’s 2018 workspace study highlighted that 67% of all artists’ studios identified just four years prior had permanently closed, with a further 24% highly likely to close by 2023. This rapid reduction of employment space for artists and creative businesses threatens the very start of the our creative supply chain, and the UK’s international competitiveness.
“London is overflowing with talent and innovation, but our creative community is under constant threat from rising rents and the pandemic has left many artists on a cliff edge. It is more important than ever that we support this sector and the next generation of talent, so that they can help drive forward our city’s economic recovery.”The Mayor of London
With over 13,000 currently on waiting lists for the little creative workspace that remains, our capital is witnessing a huge drain of talent as creative practitioners are pushed out by ever-increasing overheads and nowhere to work. It is therefore essential to find new, long-term solutions to delivering this vital cultural infrastructure. Studiomakers, a major initiative of Outset Contemporary Art Fund, is pioneering new solutions to securing the truly affordable workspaces needed for our creative industries.
Since its creation in 2003 Outset Contemporary Art Fund has raised over £13 million worldwide in support of the creative ecosystem. In 2016 Outset launched the Studiomakers initiative at Antony Gormley’s studio in responseto the rapid reduction of affordable workspaces available to the creative industries in London. Outset recognised that protecting spaces for artists to work is core to our ongoing cultural investment.
Phase One established an evidence base for action, we partnered with Harvard Business School to conduct research, and explored different ways to deliver affordable workspace for artists. Across three years Phase One ultimately helped to secure over 60,000sqft of temporary workspace that supported hundreds of artists, events and exhibitions.
Then in 2019 Studiomakers and Outset were instrumental in raising £7.5 million to launch the Creative Land Trust. Through a private/public partnership with the Mayor of London, Arts Council England and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Creative Land Trust became an independent charitable organisation that is now purchasing properties for use as workspaces for the creative industries in perpetuity.
New changes to local planning laws have recently required property developments to include affordable workspace. In Phase Two we are bringing parties together to develop these spaces at a pre-planning stage, negotiating agreements that deliver viable terms for all stakeholders,ultimately delivering long-term and truly-affordable workspaces for artists.
We act as a strategic partner, advising throughout the planning process to help achieve planning obligations, securing new spaces for the creative industries that are designed to meet local demand and deliver social value.
We assist stakeholders by balancing the unique terms required to integrate these spaces, using our established long-term leasehold model that ensures that affordability is safeguarded and viability is guaranteed on every site.
Through our unique and comprehensive knowledge, unparalleled industry experience, and replication our working leasehold model, Studiomakers Phase Two is increasing the number of spaces used for cultural consumption and creative production.
We do not lease or operate workspaces ourselves, but engage with the property sector to offer insight into the creative industries, whilst guiding organisations on how best to activate sites.
Studiomakers is funded by Outset Contemporary Art Fund and our supporters, allowing the initiative to remain independent and offer impartial advice. We maintain good working relationships with planning authorities, developers, planning consultants and across the creative and cultural industries. We aim to replicate our success to date, using our specific knowledge and experience to secure a legacy of long-term spaces for the creative industries that will deliver social value for generations.
Mentorship and Guidance
The Studiomakers mentorship programme utilises our comprehensive industry experience and a formidable team of professional partners to offer pro-bono assistance across legal, financial and governance to current and emerging creative organisations.
We give one-to-one guidance and business advice to help address knowledge gaps, strengthen business acumen and improve project viability. Our support removes barriers to entry, empowering new entrepreneurs from more diverse backgrounds to develop their own creative and cultural organisations.
By distributing our leasehold model nationally, and imparting our knowledge to guide best practice, Studiomakers is educating stakeholders about the wider issues facing the creative industries, and how the application of our leasehold model can provide a long-term solution to securing the next generation of cultural infrastructure.
In early April 2020 the Mayor of London’s Office requested assistance from Studiomakers, acknowledging that we are a leading organisation with the knowledge and experience necessary to support London’s cultural infrastructure during the Covid-19 crisis.
The pandemic unfortunately highlighted the extreme fragility of cultural infrastructure in London. Artist studios, already struggling under rapidly increasing costs and short-term agreements, faced great uncertainty and the threat of possible collapse as 97% of their artistic tenants reported a sudden loss of income.
Studiomakers temporarily paused Phase Two and rapidly reoriented the initiative, working an intense three month collaboration with the Mayor of London’s ‘Culture At Risk’ team. Studiomakers formed an impressive team of industry professionals to help affordable artist studio providers and 70 other cultural institutions avoid short-term cash flow collapse, ultimately improving their resilience.
Highlights of our assistance included partnering with TrustLaw, CBRE, Dechert LLP and CounterCulture LLP to deliver fact sheets, legal letter templates, live webinars and regular newsletters. Together with our one-on-one advice sessions Studiomakers secured significant rental reductions, pro-bono legal assistance and successfully distributed helpful guidance to the creative and cultural sectors.
Click here to read more about the advice, guidance and the resources Studiomakers developed and published during our Covid-19 response.
Studiomakers beyond London
The crisis in supply of affordable spaces for the creative and cultural industries is not limited to the capital. Studiomakers is sharing our new and working solution with a view to proactively securing affordable spaces wherever they are needed.
Short-term property arrangements lead to cultural and creative spaces to exist under constant threat of closure. This negatively impacts an organisations’ ability to generate investment, as security in property is often fundamental to grant or loan applications.
Beyond rising property values, a number of factors have impacted ability of the creative and cultural sectors to secure spaces on appropriate terms. These include a lack of common language with the property industry, little knowledge or experience of the planning process, and scarce resources.
Education is therefore a key part of the Studiomakers initiative. Our goal is to impart our experience to guide best practice, and help to bridge the knowledge gap for creative and cultural organisations who are unfamiliar with the planning and property sectors.
We aim to inform all stakeholders about the problems facing our industry, and how the application of the Studiomakers leasehold model can provide a new, long-term solution to securing cultural infrastructure.
The Studiomakers Prize
During Phase One our annual ‘Tiffany & Co x Studiomakers’ Prize awarded rent-free workspaces to seven outstanding MA Fine Art graduates, together with with career development workshops run by industry leading figures. The Prize delivered a total of 21 years of free studio space, ensuring some of the most talented graduates could continue their creative practice in London.
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