compARTment is a social enterprise who’s aims are to transform empty spaces for creative and community regenerative use in Brighton and Hove.
We transform empty spaces for experimental and collaborative art, increasing community participation and engaging wider local audiences, offering inspiration and positive alternatives to the decay of the cities commercial building stock and bringing new life to the high st.
Our current ‘ARTISTS IN SPACE’ campaign aims to build a hub in Brighton for empty space projects and opportunities, networking between local artist, the council and landlords and estate agents and supporting new artists and creative/ social enterprises.
The back story….
As a group of artists – we were brought together by our need for large, affordable, work and exhibition / display space, plus a desire to create a vibrant, supportive and collaborative mixed arts and community space. From this place we developed our vision – which mainly focused around securing use of large derelict buildings or plots of land.
We planned to use recycled shipping containers to house studios and workshops and to be moveable entities, and for a little while, it looked like we were possibly going to get some funding through an organisation called, ‘Creative Development’.
- the old Army Barracks out on Lewes Rd near the university and B&Q - an enormous council owned plot with an old gym building on it. The council were hard to get hold of to discuss and were not interested in considering our proposals. The site has been vacant for years with many planning applications falling through. Apparently the Uni of Sussex is now planning to build student accommodation there – but any work on this has yet to begin;
- Circus St – the Old Municipal Market - a favorite building for various arts groups including Brighton Uni, the Photo Biennial and South East Dance.. and very much – compARTment. Our illustrated vision panel (pic on the banner of this site ) was based on Circus St, an amazing building and one which we tried for a pretty long while. We had local councilors on side and pulling strings – the developers on side – a proposal for use … and possible funding! But the H&S costs and the scale of the project – however interim have continually held this up. The latest we’ve heard – is we’re still waiting to find out whats happening with the Development and for resolution of the above issues. The council and the Uni know of us and if there is any positive movement – we’ll certainly be in touch with relevant parties;
- The old Gas Works site opposite the Marina – a ‘dead’ plot of land – and will be for at least the next 8 years. This is due to contamination which means no digging can take place until the time period is up. Its owned by the National Grid and currently is only used to store a few buses and lorries and not much else. The National Grid weren’t ever too open to talking to us and the project would require funding.
There were a few others we also looked into – namely the old Bingo Hall, the old Ice Rink and the Stables up at Stanmer Park.
Funding has as yet not come through – mainly to do with the state of S.E.E.D.A. the overall recession and the National Election.
In February, compARTment carried out its first AGM and our business plan was drawn up. During the spring our focus shifted from trying to access funding to looking at what we could do without funding.
Susanna and Nic spent some time nesting with the Empty Shops Network in Shoreham, a National organisation supporting projects like ours. We used their headquaters over there as an office base and as studio/ exhibition space and learnt a bit about how these things can be run.
We continued plugging away on our Brighton sites and building links the council and a partnership with PHOENIX. We also sought help and advice from Emily Miller of Meanwhile Space and Pro Bono help from a Solicitor’s Firm, through Law Works to draft our Community Interest Company Application.
Finally, after a long road – we’d started inquiring about use of the old college building and empty tire garage by the London Rd Open Market. We haven’t (as yet) got anywhere with these … but the council and Market Manager Lee Beckham suggested we use a couple of empty stalls at the Market.
We saw this as a great opportunity to run a relatively cheap Pilot Project for compartment – gain a profile for what we want to do – hopefully attract funding for future larger scale projects and build links with the Council, the community and other Arts organisations.
So, here we are .. We negotiated reduced rent for our contribution to help promote the market and boost the income of other stall holders in the market – we have a project that we want to be as site specific as possible – to involve the other market stall holders – to raise the profile of the market and promote local businesses in general.
We tried to get the council to do a 3-way lease with us and with PHOENIX as intermediary as this would have further reduced our costs – but for this project at least – the council hasn’t, as yet, seen this as viable without substantial costs for legal fees. We are thinking to continue fighting for this however as it would potentially serve as a protocol for other similar projects for us or others in the future. For the time being we have a licence directly with the council. We still plan to maintain a partnership relationship with PHOENIX as our aims nicely compliment their own yet also aim to provide for a gap in provision – that of temporary, affordable, work and exhibition space for emerging and established artists and community minded projects to experiment in, collaborate in and pilot new projects in. We will continue to look forward toward accessing larger sites and further support from the community and council.
To Be Continued…..
Any comments or queries please contact us on email@example.com.