Arts studio network is founded in Liverpool

A new network is being established in Liverpool city region to connect its 35 arts studios. The work spaces, home to over 500 artists living and working in the region, are spread across the six boroughs and are filled with painters, sculptors, filmmakers, sketchers and more. 

Managed independently, many of the studios have not received financial support during the coronavirus crisis. Run by small teams or individuals, the studios provide a place for artists to hire or rent to store their art or a quiet place to work. A vital ingredient in the city region’s arts landscape, they are often filled with freelancers and self employed creatives. 

The newly established network, which will be managed by Art in Liverpool and run by a steering group, the network will aim to provide a voice for the studios, raise their profile among the arts and local communities, as well as identifying what support they need in the long term. Independent studios, much like smaller arts and music venues, are under threat from developers and are often forced to move and re-establish if their premises are sold. 

Patrick Kirk-Smith, from Art in Liverpool:

“The art studios are vital in driving the grassroots and independent arts activity across Liverpool city region. They make a significant contribution to visual arts and culture across the city region but are often overlooked. They are self sustaining and want to be able to support their professional and non-professional artists”. 

Faye Hamblett-Jones, from The Royal Standard: 

“Much like small music venues, independent artist studios are a vital ingredient for a healthy and diverse arts community. Artists need a place to work, to network and the space to explore their practice, learning from their peers. Studios are a place for first time exhibitions, as well as providing a point of focus for grassroots arts activity within communities that’s often below the radar of major funders and even local authorities. Without these studios, local arts provision dwindles. Towns and cities are under pressure in terms of development and studios often find themselves being moved further and further out of the centre. Out of sight can often mean out of mind for independent studios”. 

In the short to medium term, the research will identify what the studios themselves need to survive and thrive. Identifying both the threats, as well as the opportunities for their continued existence to form the basis of the independent evaluation, managed by Art in Liverpool in collaboration with the studio network and funded by Arts Council England.