28/08/13 UPDATE: Today, Sam contacted me to say that she has signed the paper work for the new art space and she will have access to it from Sunday 1st of September. So expect progress soon! Good luck Sam.
Sam Dexter is a UCB student, about to go into her final year. She says she is ‘looking at an entrepreneurial arts career, but with a real social conscience.’ She plans to open 70/5 Studios and Gallery in the Metro Trading Centre, Barugh Green Road, later this year. However, she is no stranger to the Yorkshire art world, as she has already been involved in the setting up of a very similiar project in Sheffield, the KIAC (Kelham Island Arts Co-op).
So after Sam contacted my through out AltBarnsley facebook page, I was obviously curious to find out more. So why set up a studio?
‘I think art can save the world, but we need to do everything we can to engage the public with it [art], even when it’s not easy to understand. I’ve already been involved in setting something like this up in Sheffield, so I already have the skills necessary to do it in Barnsley. The plan is to run it as a social enterprise, but to have co-operative ethos of participation, working together and engagement with the community.’ Sounds good so far.
I wanted to know how she would go about encouraging participation. In a town that isn’t always known for its acceptance of contemporary art, it’s not the easiest task. It can be hard to find a new audience and often you’re preaching to the converted.
Sam explained; ‘I am trying to keep studio spaces both cheap and flexible to meet artists needs, offering short and long term spaces, gallery exhibitions which are affordable and up to date as well as offering a small sales space for small scale works and items. The whole thing will be run as a social enterprise. The intent is to bring new and emerging artists together to encourage mentorship, communal working and idea generation for all the artists and makers based at the studios as well as within the wider community in Barnsley.
‘Ideally I’d like to see a new exhibition every month in the gallery. The gallery can be hired by community groups, artists and makers from as little as £20 per week. I will be operating a sliding scale of charges for the gallery to encourage community groups and new artists into the space.’
This sounds pretty good to me. But what about the space itself? Well, it is around 3000 square feet in an industrial area, where there are already people working on interesting projects – there is an organ restoration group there already, and skilled trades and artisans occupying spaces around the space. The studios will occupy around 2500 square feet, with everyone creating their own space within remarked areas. The gallery occupies around 150 square feet, divided into 3 rooms giving around 200 square feet of wall space. The space is full equipped with water, electricity (standard and 3 phase) 24/7 access, toilet and kitchen facilities, plus it is has full disabled accessible.
We will of course give you more news and a sneak preview of the site once it is ready, but in the meantime, Sam has launched a new facebook page for the project, which you can find here > facebook.com/70.5galleryandstudios
And if you want to see how the similar project in Sheffield works, visit www.facebook.com/pages/KIAC/161292283938960
Contact Sam Dexter on 07988840711 or firstname.lastname@example.org