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 our capital. However, creative talent and the spaces they need to work, are becoming increasingly difficult to retain in expensive cities.
The Greater London Authority’s 2018 workspace study highlighted that 67% of all affordable workspace identified just four years prior had permanently closed, with a further 24% likely to close in subsequent years. This rapid reduction in employment space for the creative industries threatens the very start of our creative supply chain, and the future of 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 creative businesses and individuals currently on waiting lists for the little affordable workspace that remains, our capital is witnessing a huge drain of talent as the creative industries are pushed out by a combination of ever-increasing overheads, and nowhere to work. It is therefore essential to find long-term solutions that can viably deliver affordable workspace. Studiomakers, a major initiative of Outset Contemporary Art Fund, is pioneering new ways of securing the next generation of truly-affordable workspaces, and delivering the cultural infrastructure that is vital for our creative industries.
Our Work to Date
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.
Establishing an evidence base for action, we partnered with Harvard Business School to conduct research, and explored different ways to deliver affordable workspace for artists. In our first three years we secured over 60,000sqft of temporary workspace that supported hundreds of artists, events and exhibitions.
In 2019 Outset was 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.
During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, and in partnership with the Mayor of London’s office, Outset rapidly formed a 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. We partnered 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.
The Studiomakers Prize
‘Tiffany & Co x 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 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.
City of London x Studiomakers’ Prize
In 2023, The Studiomakers Prize formed a new collaboration between the City of London Corporation, which provided core funding. Outset partnered with SET to deliver Prize workspaces in an empty commercial unit on Byward Street.
Abi Palmer, Leily Moghtader Mojdehi, Luning Yang, and Yifan He, whose work spans painting, sculpture, and robotic installations, moved into their studios in Byward Street, where they have been able to work rent-free for nine months.
The artists were selected from, among others, Slade School of Fine Art and Goldsmiths University by an expert panel of judges comprised of independent curator and writer, Fatos Üstek; Director of Vital Arts, Catsou Roberts; and curator and Members Programme Coordinator at SET Studios, Ellie Dobbs.