The Art House

The Art House

At a glance

Causes

  • Arts

Other details

Organisation type: 
Charity
Geographical remit: 
Regional

Objectives

The Art House is a visual arts centre in the heart of Wakefield in West Yorkshire. We believe in the power of art and creativity, and the ability it has to transform people’s lives and the places they live in. We’re always asking ourselves ‘What is the ultimate role that an arts organisation can play in its community?’  We believe that role is quite radical, and sometimes quite unexpected.

Our approach is holistic, circular, entrepreneurial, people-centred and creative.  Over the last five years, The Art House has become a vibrant, diverse, accessible and entrepreneurial arts organisation for the people of Wakefield.

Originally founded in 1994 by a collective of disabled and non-disabled artists who shared a vision to remove barriers to arts participation, our buildings now house three galleries, 45 artist studios, three professional Maker Spaces (print studio, ceramic studio, and photography darkroom), a three bedroom flat for artist residencies, meeting rooms, a shop, and a coffee house.

We are the only studio space in the region that was purpose-built for access and inclusion, and we are a home for diverse artists and arts professionals. Our high-quality sector-leading residencies, exhibitions and artistic programme platform artists who have been traditionally marginalised due to disability, mental health, race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and/or escaping persecution. Currently, 92% of our residencies, exhibitions and artistic programme feature artists from traditionally marginalised backgrounds.

We ignite our community’s creativity through free events and exhibitions both at The Art House and across the city, as well as through open studios, affordable classes, workshops and events.

We also co-create with artists, communities, and cross-sector partners to creatively address gaps in provision across the Wakefield District, including the Culture and Public Health Departments of Wakefield Council, NOVA, City of Sanctuary, Unlimited, Hepworth Wakefield and the BID. Our programmes develop skills, broaden horizons, encourage entrepreneurial ventures, build relationships, promote tolerance and cross-cultural understanding and engage audiences who normally feel like arts and culture ‘isn’t for them’.

We were the first Studio of Sanctuary in the country, supporting asylum seekers to rebuild their artistic practices and begin new careers in the UK. In 2023, we also became a Gallery of Sanctuary.  Through these programmes, we build community cohesion and help to dispel bias by bringing together Asylum Seekers, Refugees and people from the wider Wakefield community to engage in a range of free creative workshops and events.

We also run an innovative and award-winning Interim Use Space Management programme, Well-Placed, which helps to create place partnerships and ground-up regeneration through enabling artists, creative entrepreneurs and community groups to activate empty shops.

We deeply understand the potential that creativity has for empowering and transforming communities. In 2022 we won the Gulbenkian Civic Arts Award. The panel praised our ‘unswerving commitment to co-creation, developing skills and creativity with local communities, championing diverse voices and dissolving barriers between art and social impact’.

We punch way above our weight, delivering high quality, value for money work that puts people and creativity at the centre of social change.  We matter. 

Activities

In 2022/23 The Art House welcomed 23,217 people through our door.  25% of those people (5,800) engaged in our learning, participation and/or social impact programmes.

Our 45 studios are full to capacity – with 25 of them housing individual artists for their practice and the other 20 housing creative businesses, entrepreneurs, social enterprises and charities

Our Maker Spaces welcomed 1,841 people, all who used the spaces multiple times both for paid classes and free engagement activities.  59 artists used the Maker Spaces as Members for over 1,677 hours of professional work.

Our Studio of Sanctuary Programme worked with an astonishing 2,184 people, 586 of them being local and 1,592 being either refugees of people seeking asylum.  Most of these people participated multiple times – these are not one-offs

Our Arts and Health Programme worked with 129 people, for multi-week workshops, usually for not less than 4 weeks.

Our Makey Wakey Programme directly impacted 3,400 participants, and supported the development and sustainability of 7 social enterprises, 5 charities and 5 individual artists.  It has also launched 2 successful businesses who now rent space on their own:  My Eco Baby (also the BID award winner Best New Business) and Hamid The Tailor. 

Our Artist Residencies and Exhibitions involved 32 artists, with 92% of them being either disabled or traditionally marginalised by other protected characteristics.

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