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News - 8 September 2007

Bristol Estate provides artists’ studios

It seems an unlikely corner of the city for the creative industries to take root but disused drying rooms on the Bristol Estate in East Brighton could be transformed into seven artists’ studios.

Councillors on the housing management sub-committee viewed the plans for the first time on Tuesday, 4 September. The proposals will now be put before councillors on the culture, recreation & tourism committee on 12 September.

The run-down rooms are on the ground floor of high-rise blocks of flats on the estate. The project would convert four unused spaces into seven low-cost studios, which could be rented out to creative industries.

Funding for the project will come from external sources, so there will be no cost to the council. The South East Economic Development Agency would provide £210,000, and Brighton & Hove Arts Commission £10,000.

There is an added benefit in that the disused rooms were providing a focal point for youths to gather and engage in anti-social behaviour. Councillor Mary Mears, chairman of the housing management sub-committee, said: “Residents on the estate approached us to express concern that the disused rooms were becoming a focus for antisocial behaviour and vandalism.

“Making creative use of this ‘dead’ space would bring many advantages to residents, who would be able to participate in art-related activities on their doorstep.”

Eighteen artists have already expressed an interest in taking up a studio, two of them from the Bristol Estate itself.

Councillor David Smith, chairman of the culture, recreation & tourism committee, added, “There is a severe shortage of affordable studio space in the city, and this scheme would help local artists get established, as well as providing arts opportunities for residents. Creative industries are a cornerstone of our economy and this project has the potential for expansion to other estates.”

Once up and running, the Bristol Estate project is expected to be self-financing, with the possibility of a surplus rental income that would help provide an arts and community development worker for the area.

If agreed, the proposals will be put before the Policy & Resources Committee on 27 September for a final decision.

Read related items on:
Creative industries
Brighton & Hove City Council
Mears, Mary
Bristol Estate

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