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 the artists’ studios identified just four years prior had permanently closed, with a further 24% likely to close by 2023. This eradication of artists’ workspaces from our capital threatens the very start of our creative supply chain.
“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, Sadiq Khan
With over 13,000 artists now on waiting lists for the remaining workspace we are seeing a huge drain of talent as creative practitioners are pushed out of London by ever-increasing overheads and nowhere to work. It is therefore essential we find new, long-term solutions to delivering this vital cultural infrastructure. Studiomakers, an initiative of Outset Contemporary Art Fund, is pioneering a new solution to securing the truly affordable workspaces needed for our creative industries.
Since its creation in 2003 Outset Contemporary Art Fund has raised over £12 million to fund the production of new art for the widest possible audiences. In 2016 Outset launched the Studiomakers initiative at Antony Gormley’s studio in response to the rapid reduction of affordable workspaces for the creative industries, and to protect the artist at the core of our cultural investment.
This first phase 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.
In 2019 Outset and Studiomakers were instrumental in raising £7.5 million to help launch the Creative Land Trust. Through a private/public partnership with the Mayor of London, Arts Council England and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Trust became an independent charitable organisation that will purchase 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. Phase Two is bringing parties together to develop these spaces at a pre-planning stage, ultimately leading to agreements that deliver viable terms for all stakeholders.
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 for each site.
Through our comprehensive knowledge, unparalleled industry experience, and replicating 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, and across the creative and cultural industries. We aim to replicate our success to date, using our unique knowledge and industry experience to secure a legacy of long-term spaces for the creative industries that will deliver social value for generations.
Support and Mentorship
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 working 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.
At the start of the Covid19 crisis Studiomakers worked closely with The Mayor of London’s ‘Culture at Risk’ team, delivering rapid guidance that helped dozens of creative and cultural organisations through the crisis, ultimately improving their resilience.
Recently the Government has consulted 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. Read more about our response here.
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.
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
During ‘Phase One’ our annual 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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