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Our Campaign for an Inclusive Creative Arts Hub in Newcastle

We wanted to emerge from Covid-19 and make a positive difference by doing creative artful things that would bring people together as part of a community. After so much time apart, we felt people were in real need for human connection.

​But we recognised there was a problem, not only for us, but a vast amount of other artists, community groups and grassroots organisations like us: The lack of accessible, affordable and available space in town.

 

This has been a long-term problem in our city but was made even worse by the demolition of ‘meanwhile spaces’ in Newcastle since the end of the pandemic. No wonder the artist community was in despair and even more talent looked to leave Tyneside in search of creative opportunities elsewhere. How are we meant to help the public the participate in the arts when there's no space to do it?

 

​We set out on a mission to find a solution and make positive change.

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The Building

First, we needed to see if there was an actual vacant building out there that could be repurposed. We knew it had to be in an easy to get to location, and spacious.

After months of viewing properties online and trawling the streets, we eventually found one. An old disused building in the Pink Triangle, a stone’s throw from Newcastle Central Station.

 

Eureka!

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Making it happen

We chased the opportunity relentlessly. initially, with the help of a volunteer architect, we formed concept designs and secured planning permission to repurpose the ex-wholesale-store into an 'accessible creative arts hub' to provide workshop rooms, a theatre, a cafe bar, co-working offices, a bike park and roof garden.

We were awarded small pots of research and development funding from NTCA (North of Tyne Combined Authority), administered through Newcastle City Council and Creative UK to engage building surveyors, market researchers and a solicitor, and began negotiations on a long lease

 

Then we embarked on our crowdfunding campaign to kickstart the capital project. This raised £44K and swathes of public support.

Campaign Video Venue Tour

Bev Fox (Boho Arts Founder & Co-Artistic Director) takes Hazel Burton (Trustee) on an exciting and informative tour inside the building. She explains how it can be repurposed into an inclusive creative arts venue for everyone to enjoy.

The video shows the benefits the venue will bring to the public, why it is so important to Newcastle's grassroots artistic community, the kind of wonderful activities that will happen within,  images and concept designs for the space.

Next Steps

The success of the crowdfunding campaign was paramount to proving there was public support and demand for our idea to help unlock the big capital funding we need to repair and repurpose the space, as well as of course providing over £40,000 of ring-fenced cash to help make it happen. The building has been vacant for almost 10 years so needs a lot of repairs and modernisation, and the current capital project budget is in the region of £1,600,00 but this can be done in stages.

We are delighted that Newcastle City Council has championed us. They and Live Theatre are now our project partners. Live has recently come on board as an NPO and supporting entity to help us on the capital development and first few years of operations.

 

We have learned that we are resourceful, tenacious, and incredibly pushy. We've had to learn a great deal of patience during this challenging process, but also found enormous support and encouragement all around. Optimistically (and it's waking up every day with optimism and ready to graft that has got us this far) we aim to start the lease and refurbishment in May 2024.

The future could look like this

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