First Cohort for East Street Arts National GUILD Programme

Last year GUILD, a pioneering arts development programme, was created by Leeds’ East Street Arts to look into how cities and towns can develop and support artists’ spaces.

Over the course of two decades, East Street Arts has supported over 20,000 artists to flourish and build sustainable careers, reinvented 500 temporary venues as art galleries and studios, created 79 permanent studio spaces for artists, and developed a unique pop-up Art Hostel at the heart of Leeds’ historic Kirkgate.

This month, East Street Arts announced the first cohort of artist-led organisations who will join the GUILD programme.  They will explore the potential for artists to work with communities to create sustainable spaces, and what form those spaces might take in order to meet the flexible requirements of the industry as it evolves. Participating organisations in the first cohort are from as far north as Middlesbrough and in the south, Southampton.

Karen Watson, Artistic Director at East Street Arts says “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 its value and impact.

GUILD is an opportunity for us to share our knowledge and experience and also for us to continue to learn from and celebrate the huge amount of amazing work artists are doing across the country to build infrastructure and develop public programmes.”

She adds: “The programme received few applications from organisations led by People of Colour and artists with disabilities. We are committed to addressing how GUILD will reach out and connect to these artists groups and make sure that the challenges they face inform this programme.”

Live Art Bistro Photograph by Ben Bentley

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

GUILD is supported by Arts Council England, and partners AN The Artist Information Company, Key Fund, University of Salford, University of Leeds, Stockholm Institute for Environment and Locality

The GUILD programme will create toolkits, business models and artistic development programmes, as well as seeking to influence funding bodies, local authorities, community and regeneration bodies for support for flexible spaces for artists.

Daniel Cutmore, Relationship Manager at Arts Council England said: “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. We are delighted with the organisations selected for GUILD, who represent a snap-shot of the different contexts and challenges in which many artists operate, ranging from large well-established groups looking to diversify business activities, to artists working in a range of temporary spaces including empty high street shops, and those just starting out on a journey to find and set up their own space for public activities and arts production.”

Julie Lomax, Chief Executive of a-n The Artists Information Company said: “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. 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 workspace and artist development in England.”

Feature photograph:  Hannah Turner Wallis & Théodora Lecrinier, founders of Norwich-based studios Dyad Creative, one of 20 selected to take part in East Street Arts’ GUILD programme. Image by Andy Sapey.

Second photograph:  Leeds’ Live Art Bistro, hosting a Leeds International Festival event.


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