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 have closed in under three years, with a further 24% of remaining studios likely to close in the next five years. With over 13,000 artists currently on waiting lists we are seeing a huge drain of talent as creative practitioners are pushed out of our city by ever increasing costs. It is essential to find new solutions that secure long-term affordable spaces for the creative industries and cultural infrastructure.
Since its creation in 2003, Outset has raised over £12million in support of new art, and established the Studiomakers initiative as a way of protecting the artists at the core of this cultural investment.
In 2016 Outset hosted an event at Antony Gormley’s studio to launch Studiomakers in response to the rapid reduction of affordable workspaces for the creative industries. To counter this decline Phase One established an evidence base for action, partnering with Harvard Business School to publish research, and explored different ways to deliver affordable workspace for artists, ultimately helping to secure over 60,000sqft of temporary workspace that supported hundreds of artists, events and exhibitions.
In 2019, through a private public partnership with the Mayor of London, Arts Council England and Bloomberg Philanthropies, Outset Studiomakers were instrumental in raising £7.5 million to help launch the Creative Land Trust. Now independent from Studiomakers and a registered charitable organisation, The Creative Land Trust was established to purchase freehold property for use as affordable artist studios in perpetuity.
In 2020 new changes to local planning laws have required property redevelopments in London to include affordable workspace. Studiomakers Phase Two is bringing parties together to develop affordable workspace at a pre-planning stage, ultimately leading to agreements that deliver viable terms for all stakeholders.
Studiomakers increases the number of spaces used for cultural consumption and creative production through use of our comprehensive knowledge, unparalleled industry experience, and a new long-term leasehold model that guarantees the appropriate use of spaces whilst delivering social and cultural impact. We balance the unique terms required to integrate spaces within development projects, ensuring that true affordability is safeguarded for generations.
Studiomakers Covid-19 Response
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 the cultural and creative 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.
We temporarily paused the launch of Phase 2 of Studiomakers and rapidly reoriented the initiative. Working an intense 70 days of 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 avoid short-term cash flow collapse.
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.
We continue to offer our pro-bono advisory service to the affordable artist studio sector as Studiomakers sees an ongoing requirement for industry support. Studiomakers mentorship programme utilises our comprehensive industry experience and our formidable team of professional partners to give pro-bono assistance across legal, financial and governance. This service aims to address knowledge gaps and strengthen business acumen in the sector, helping to improve project viability whilst removing barriers to entry for new studio providers.
Studiomakers does not manage or operate space ourselves, but guides the creative industries on how best to activate new sites, and engages with the property sector to offer insight in the affordable workspace sector. We act as a strategic partner, advising stakeholders throughout the planning process to help achieve obligations, deliver value and secure new spaces that are designed to meet local demand and achieve social impact.
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 its 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 due to market forces. This 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 appropriate properties. 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: imparting our experience to guide best practice and helping to bridge the knowledge gap for creative and cultural organisations who are unfamiliar with the property industry.
We aim to inform all stakeholders about the problems facing our industry, and how the application of the Studiomakers model can provide a new, long-term solution.
The Studiomakers Prize
2017 saw the launch of The Studiomakers Prize, ensuring that some of the most talented artists from the capitals’ leading schools aren’t forced to leave London due to lack of workspace after graduation day.
The prize has awarded a rent-free studio to seven outstanding MA Fine Art graduates each year, along with career development workshops run by industry leading figures.
The prize has so far awarded the equivalent of 21 years of free studio workspace and Studiomakers is now considering options how best to continue the Prize, with a renewed priority in helping those artists who are the most in need of free workspace to continue their creative practice.
Planning for the Future – The Culture Sector’s Response
The Government is current consulting on sweeping changes to the planning system. These proposals include the total removal of ‘Section 106’ the mechanism that delivers almost all new spaces used by the creative and cultural industries. There is nothing currently detailed that would replace what would be a catastrophic loss of all future spaces dedicated to the creative and cultural sectors across England.
This situation is as unbelievable as it is serious: the Government’s planning white paper could decimate England’s creative supply chain and undermine the value of England’s creative and cultural industries. It is vital that the Government consults with our sector and listen to the industry to ensure that changes to planning law provide the spaces required for the fastest growing part of the UK economy.
A consortium of organisations representing the creative and cultural industries, including Studiomakers, Sound Diplomacy, Music Venue Trust, The Creative Land Trust and Night Time Industries Association, today release a discussion paper that details our response. Each contributor to this joint response understands how important changes to planning law will be, and why proposals must be improved if they are to be enacted. We hope that this paper will provoke a meaningful dialogue and that the Government will now come to the table to discuss our proposals.
We feel strongly that now is the time to draw attention to what is a serious threat to every creative and cultural organisation looking to secure a sustainable home, and a future, in England.
The aim of this discussion paper is to highlight the potential impact on the creative industries, indicate how the proposals could be improved, and promote constructive responses from the artist studio sector that the Studiomakers initiative helps to represent.
You can download the discussion paper HERE.
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