A local arts organisation is seeking artists to fill spaces in their new studios, which will open in late 2011.
The Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance [ROAR], which was founded by professional artists in 2003, are currently refurbishing the second floor of the Westgate Chambers Building, after receiving a grant from the People’s Millions Big Lottery Fund in November 2010.
They qualified for the Bonus Award of £50,000, after securing the position of the highest voted runner-up in the People’s Millions contest.
The award enabled funding for their Artists’ Studios and Community Art Space, which will convert the top floor complex of Westgate Chambers into studios and community resource spaces.
Raising artists’ profile
Work on the refurbished building started in March – which is expected to be completed in November – and applications are now open for artists, who are wishing to rent any of the six art studios in the building.
“We wish to raise the profile of the project and let artists out there know that studio spaces are available for the first time, we believe, in Rotherham Town Centre,” said Karen Sherwood, the CEO of ROAR.
“Although the studios are currently almost all taken, we will, of course, need to create a waiting list as artists change their minds, have a change of circumstances [or] might leave and we want to make sure this is a fully sustainable project with a coherent business model.
“We are looking for this development to be home to the creative practitioners that need it.
“We, therefore, expect that it will be occupied and used by artists working across all disciplines [including] visual arts, performing arts, musicians, poets, circus artists, creative writers [and] dancers.”
Lots of excitement
The building will also include a reception area, shared kitchen, broadband WiFi and individual electric supply, and there will be the opportunity for the artists’ work to be exhibited.
Ms Sherwood said that there has already been interest in the available studios and a number of core tenants have been confirmed.
She explained: “[There’s been] lots of excitement in the artistic community mixed with a degree of scepticism, as one might expect, [and] with many high hopes that this may just be the catalyst needed to re-invigorate and re-ignite interest in and passion for the arts across all its forms.
“ROAR will use this development as a base for its operations [and] as an arts development agency.
“If ROAR works successfully as an arts development agency, then it will be there to nurture and develop existing talent – not just for those working in the building, but for anyone working in the arts anywhere in the Rotherham borough.
“ROAR believes that the arts can and do have economic and social benefits for the wider community, and that the arts should play a vital role in the regeneration of Rotherham.
“ROAR knows [that] plenty of talent exists in Rotherham and wants all those talented people to understand that you do not have to leave Rotherham to become and remain successful.
“Support where it is needed is what ROAR aims to achieve.”
The rental rate per annum for artists’ studio spaces is expected to be around £6 per square foot, inclusive of rates, and the deadline for applications is on Sunday 28 August.
For further information on the project, contact Ms Sherwood on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01709 252535.
This news story was self-published in August 2011.