ArtSpace Bath Project by Penny Hay FRSA
The project was built around a group of Fellows recognising the need for Bath to have a permanent creative arts space, such as those in other major UK cities. This is backed up by the City Identity project in B&NES and research by Mickeldore (2012) that demonstrates the need for a creative hub to grow the city’s creative economy. Also, the area has been identified by NESTA (2010) as a creative hotspot, but that there is a need to retain creative talent from Bath’s universities and college (Florida 2002).
It is in this manner that the City Identity Project aims to support and foster the cultural climate in which the creative industries flourish and prosper; and it is in this field that Artspace is in a position to contribute unique and significant value, offering opportunities for a range of unusual and ‘edgy’ experiences and interactions which Bath currently lacks.
The RSA’s involvement began in March when Fellows Penny Hay and Rhodri Samuels spoke at the local Bath network about their vision for the project. Fellows gave feedback and became involved with the organising team. The team worked on the idea and the concept of the project over the summer and were supported by the RSA with £2,000 Catalyst funding.
The first move towards developing a creative hub, is to create a cutting edge pop-up artspace in the centre of Bath in spring 2014. This will be 4 action packed days of immersive, multi-sensory, creative experiences – paving the way for a permanent contemporary arts centre. The aim is to make visible the creativity in the city and engaging new audiences with contemporary creativity as the bridge to developing a contemporary, multi-disciplinary installation as proof of concept and precursor for a more permanent space.
Conceptually, we believe that the Artspace project would work successfully as part of the Council’s proposed creative hub at Bath Quays South, and coexist with and enhance the proposed film/digital media centre proposal. It would play a significant part in establishing the creative hub as a landmark community destination for the city and in adding appeal to the lifestyle offer for businesses considering taking space within the hub. The preference of the group would be for a raw, unfinished post-industrial space eg former warehouses at Bath Quays South, enabling the creation of the right sort of aesthetic.
The concept of engagement underpins both the temporary space and event. Engagement will also be the connective tissue between contemporary arts and their role in Bath’s reinvention and promoting well-being, cultural, economic and public value without conflict. Artspace will be a stimulus for innovation in co-creativity, co-design and co-curatorship.
The 4 day contemporary arts event for all ages is to prove we need a vital new space is the project that has been launched on kickstarter
The project has a vast number of partner organisations involved: Bath University, Bath Spa University, 5x5x5=creativity, Illuminate Bath, Bath Festivals, Bath Film Festival, Buro Happold, WOMAD and Real World Studios, TEDx Youth Bath, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Demuths’ Cookery School, Grant Associates, Bath & NE Somerset Council, Patrick Woodroffe Lighting design, Invisible Studio, Niki Turner Designs.
Stuart MacDonald (founding Director of the Lighthouse, Glasgow) and Toby Jackson (former Head of Education at Tate Modern and now trustee of 5x5x5=creativity) are consulting on the business case to take the artspace concept forward.
Bath is already an extraordinary city, evidence the remarkable achievements of our two universities, the scale and significance of Bath’s creative and technology industries and the talented national and international figures who are based in the area. Blessed with an outstanding heritage of radical entrepreneurialism, human creative genius and wellbeing, the city of Bath is ideally positioned to build on the existing strengths of the community to achieve recognition on the international stage.