By Blast arts reporter Rala Kawas
Every artists needs a platform to start from and some support to keep going. Coventry Artspace is an organisation designed to do just that.
Coventry Artspace is an artist-led space dedicated to artists and to promoting, strengthening and supporting visual arts practice in Coventry.
Coventry Artspace was established back in 1991 by a group of graduates and artists who were looking for space to work on their art. In 1993, they moved into the building, owned by Coventry City Council, which has housed the company since.
The company immediately took the form of an organisation with two aspects that branch out from it. These two aspects include Artspace Artists and Arts Exchange, which compliment each other but serve different purposes.
Artspace Artists offers an integrated service of support for practising artists: managing studio space, providing bursaries, organising commissions, supporting collaborative working and providing meeting and exhibition opportunities.
Artspace Artists was awarded a grant in early July by The Arts Council England, West Midlands to support its 2008/2009 exhibition and events programme. The programme will offer a range of opportunities for visual artists, creative practitioners and audiences in Coventry and beyond. These include opportunities such as, an artists' bursary scheme being launched in August, a city wide site-specific exhibition, regular group shows and individual Private Views and an artists' residency scheme at Coventry Indoor Market, coming up in November.
One of the studio spaces
Laura Elliott, Artists Coordinator says "We are absolutely ecstatic about the Arts Council's investment in the exhibitions and events programme. Artspace Artists have been working for an incredibly long time to provide high-quality opportunities for artists and audiences alike and the recognition and support from The Arts Council, in particular Visual Arts Officers Mair Evans and Liz Hawley, means that we can finally realise these exciting plans.”
The second branch that holds the company together is Arts Exchange, which is all about getting the community involved. Laura explains that this section conducts participatory and community arts activities across the City, so it works with schools, members of the community and gets involved with activities such as helping out with the annual Godiva Festival.
Arts Exchange has had a very good response from the community, where there is a real mixture of people who support the organisation. From artists, or aspiring artists to people who simply enjoy supporting the arts, the enthusiasm has been invaluable.
A Community Garden Party
As odd as it may seem, the building that has housed this organisation for 15 years is something worthy of mentioning.
The Artspace building, based on Lower Holyhead Road, acts to house Artspace Artists and Arts Exchange staff, as well as providing studios, community workshop space, exhibition space, storage space and meeting space for Artspace members.
It has been through quite a lot and still managed to be home to Coventry Artspace. The former Friends Meeting House was bought by the Council in the 1930s and underwent no renovation whatsoever until quite recently, when, due to the English weather, it was in desperate need of a roof more than anything else.
However, Laura explains, “The Arts Council recently supported the renovation of our former Friends Meeting House in the city centre which means that we can continue to build on their investment by bringing artists and audiences to the building and the city of Coventry. This grant ensures that Artspace Artists will strengthen the cultural picture of Coventry city and we're really looking forward to working with existing and new members to make it all happen."
last updated: 06/08/2008 at 16:11
Have Your Say