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21 July 2022

Define affordability to ensure artists have access to studios, new report says

The ‘Artists’ Workspace consultation report’ by Dr Rhian Scott looks at the challenges of delivering and securing affordable artist workspace in London, and also provides potential solutions.

Woman painting in artist studio

With pre-COVID figures showing creative jobs are growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy, ensuring access to affordable studios is key to providing financial, social, and cultural capital across London and the rest of the UK.

However, currently 13,780 artists are on waiting lists and studio occupancy rates are at 95% in London.

For the ‘Artists’ Workspace consultation report’, Dr Scott consulted 30 senior representatives from Greater London Authrority, local authorities, property developers, studio providers, arts organisations and academics.

Working with these stakeholders, Dr Scott found that the biggest challenges that need to providing affordable artist workspaces are:

  • The need to define affordability to ensure studios are within artists’ budgets
  • Demonstrating the immediate economic and social value of artists’ studios to local authorities and developers
  • Build stronger links with the local communities that studios are in

This report offers a clarified framework for addressing the key issues that local authorities grapple with around affordable studio provision for artists, balancing commercial and social imperatives. Bringing together the diverse stakeholders has resulted in some great thinking which will hopefully enable creation of more of the workspace for artists that London so urgently needs.”

Rebekah Polding, Head of Cultural and Town Centre Development, Enfield Council

About the report, Rebekah Polding, Head of Cultural and Town Centre Development at Enfield Council, said “I’m sure this work will resonate across the sector and look forward to seeing this conversation lead to positive change.”

Stakeholders in the report worked together to come up with potential solutions to the problems. These included designating a set portion of studios to artists who live in the local area and ensuring local authorities are instrumental in influencing development briefs.

Our sector needs more collaboration like this with academia to help us, as operators of workspace for artists, illustrate the multitude of benefits that we know are delivered, but sometimes struggle to evidence. Consultation can help develop the right language to unlock discussion with local authorities, investors, and policymakers in government so that we can ultimately deliver what we are all striving for, more truly-affordable workspace secured in the long-term.”

William Austin, Founder of Southwark Studios

The report hopes to provide valuable insights for property developers, local and regional government and studio providers. It will also inform the future work of Creative Land Trust, an independent body with the long-term aim of securing affordable workspace for artists across London.

Read the full Artists’ Workspace consultation report.

In this story

Rhian Scott

Postdoctoral Research Fellow