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No. 43 Project (Arts Centre)

Summary:

The basic premise of the project is to facilitate a centre for the creation, development, exhibition and sale of art to promote community development, social enterprise and tourism at Number 43 Market Place Driffield.

‘Art’ as defined below:

  • Visual arts – fine art, photography, digital arts, crafts, sculpture
  • Design – graphics, fashion, textiles, product and industrial design, jewellery
  • Media – radio, television, film and journalism
  • Performing – acoustic music, book readings, talks, debates, presentations

Vision:

  • To establish a venue regionally renowned for its high-quality arts, crafts and creative content across all platforms.
  • To establish a community centred venue facilitating access to learning and development within the arts, crafts and creative sphere across all ages, from working with the schools to the U3A as well as those suffering social isolation, other vulnerable groups and those traditionally hard to reach communities.
  • To establish a tangible hub to provide the space for learning and networking opportunities for local artists and the creation of an ‘art community’ embedded in the local community.
  • To establish an year-round visitor attraction, a ‘destination’ venue offering studios, workshops, galleries where art/crafts can be viewed or purchased, exhibitions, showcases and events. A space where residents and visitors alike can immerse themselves in a culturally rich environment.

Do people want such a facility? What would the benefit be?

A Commonplace consultation took place in the summer of 2021:

  • Asking if people would like to see a community art space and gallery established in Driffield – 83% said they were very positive about the proposal.
  • Asking if the opportunity to purchase unique items made by local artists appealed to them – 100% said this yes this did appeal to them.
  • Asking if they would be interested in attending art workshops/classes – 71% answered that they would be interested, 56% and 21% further stated that they would be interested in attending seasonal workshops and special events.

Artists in our locality

There is an ever-increasing sector of artists in our immediate locality, indeed a study carried out by the ERYC in 2008 identified a cluster within the immediate Driffield area of 75-99 recognised professional and semi-professional artists. This number will have significantly increased since then.

Such a project will ensure greater visibility for our local art community and help it to develop and grow, attracting more people and encouraging them to explore their artistic talents from all spheres of the community.

Artists themselves have been extremely positive, with East Riding Artists, Driffield Art Club, Driffield Photography Club committing to the project in both direct involvement in the establishment of the venue but also in the provision of workshops, exhibitions and to utilise as a point of sale for their work.

Additionally, artists have voiced a desire to extend their knowledge of how to promote their artwork and the venue could host presentations, exhibitions of information, learning opportunities, training courses via links we have already established with ERYC Business Support. The notion of creating a network or art community from Number 43 will support artists already working from home but could at times relocate to studio space at Number 43, reducing the isolation of working alone but in turn encouraging collaborative projects, shared resources and peer critique. The geographical nature of our area will help reduce the isolation from a cultural community and its influences felt by rural artists.

A visit to Bridlington Gallery in the summer (of 2021) was very illuminating and gave us confidence that, especially considering the space available to us compared to Bridlington Gallery, that this can be financially viable within a short space of time. Bridlington Gallery had in the summer a waiting list of 22 artists, which is indicative of the demand.
A similar project in Withernsea has found itself over subscribed within weeks of opening.

Our Commonplace Consultation presented with a considerable number of offers of voluntary work to assist in the project and to deliver workshops.
Cass Hall art and craft events will also be used to gauge the demand for the type of activities that could be delivered in no. 43.

Why Number 43:

43 Market Place sits in the heart of Driffield Town Centre and has done so since the mid 19th century, serving the community for well over 100 years as Clark’s hardware shop. Latterly playing host to the Post Office from 1995 to 2014, and since then has stood empty.

Number 43 is located some 25 metres from Market Place itself, nestled close to 18th century coaching inn, The Bell Hotel and the Victorian grandeur of Hotel 41, opposite the former Nat West Bank which is about to be opened as a microbrewery, The Crooked Tap and a very attractive row small independent shops whose beautiful Victorian shop fronts have been recently renovated, including the very popular, Little Book Emporium. It is also at the entrance of the newly established ‘Northern Quarter’.

Market Place in recent months has become a hub of community activity after the installation of the Umbrella Plaza and has played host to musical events throughout the summer. DTC have continued plans to further develop Market Place as a destination location for visitors and locals alike and it has quickly become established as an amenity and meeting space.

43 Market Place is one of the last remaining retail premises in the town to retain its original Victorian frontage, even down to is iron gates in front of the double doors. Whilst admittedly simply aesthetic, the building is extremely attractive even before renovation and provides stunning original features that provide a quirky, inspiring, stimulating, inclusive starting point for our design and renovation concept, factors so essential to such a project.

The considerable ground floor retail offer makes it ideally suited to provide that essential space to cater for a considerable number of artists to display their work for sale. The first floor provision is more than ample to provide for a myriad of uses – from workshop, meeting, storage and learning space to hosting events, performances and exhibitions. The current configuration also gives considerable options on flexible layouts including small studio space.

The interior is in need of renovation and as such is a ‘blank canvas’, however essentially there is space for the installation of a lift which would not be detrimental to the existing space available and would make all areas of the venue completely accessible for all. The rear outside space is limited but safe, secure and manageable, offering plenty of opportunity for a wide range of external activities.

Two independent valuations were commissioned by the Town Council from PPH and Dee Atkinson and Harrison. After taking advice from ERNLLCA the Town Council have agreed a sale price of £190,000 and justify this decision on the following:

  • The only building available that meets our requirements
  • The project primarily is centred on facilitating a space for artists to display and sell their work and this will be the mainstay of our sustainability, therefore we require a town centre location within the retail area of Driffield that is subject to considerable footfall.
  • Artists have voiced a distinct need for affordable exhibition/point of sale space with access to as many public and customers as possible.
  • With the recent renovations, establishment of new enterprises and the focus on Market Place as a ‘community hub’, Number 43 will be at the centre of this cultural and vibrant area of the town.
  • Its central location also offers accessibility to nearby car parking, train and bus stations and is within safe, easy walking distance of the entire town and on the town bus route.
  • In addition, whilst the location of the premises is vital, so too is the considerable ground floor retail space which will enable us to host a considerable number of artists and therefore ensure maximum revenue.
  • The first floor space is flexible and of sufficient size and capacity to enable us to deliver workshop, studio, meeting, storage, performance and exhibition space.
  • Experienced professional artists have visited the premises and feel that it has enormous potential and is ideally suited to such a project.
  • No other suitable property:

Other buildings currently available to buy (as at December 2021):

  • The Red Lion on the market for £280K – will cost in excess of £1 million to renovate, a former pub it is on the periphery of the town centre and not subject to natural footfall. Too expensive, too large, bad location, general layout does not lend itself to the overall ethos of the project.
  • 50 Market Place, Driffield – town centre location, former solicitors’ office, £195K, however much smaller that 43 Market Place and would be impossible to make fully accessible.
  • Barclays Bank – Market Place – not yet on the market (if indeed it does come up for sale – it may just be a lease which is not suitable). Very large building in the town centre with fantastic potential, however unsure when or if this will be available and from reports from the bank manager herself, the building is in dire need of full renovation which would cost far more than Number 43.

Saving a building of interest:

Whilst not listed, as explained previously, 43 Market Place is the one of the only retail units to still boast its original Victorian frontage. In a high-profile location, it has stood empty for over 7 years and the owner has no intention of leasing it or actively trying to sell it. Fully renovated the premises will provide a spectacular focus for Market Place.

Project Plan and Timescales:

  • March 2022 – Complete on Purchase of Number 43
    January to March 2022 – further consultation and formation of a working group consisting of local artists, councillors and officers to oversee and deliver the project
  • March 2022 – tender for a project manager
  • May 2022 – working with the working group and project manager to draw up project plan
  • July 2022 – Project manager puts the plans out to tender
  • August 2022 – Application is made to the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) for further funds to deliver the refurbishment work
  • September 2022 – Successful contractor starts work
  • January 2023 – Building completed and projects will begin.

Conclusion:

After taking advice from ERNLLCA it is recommended that in the first instance, we apply for a public works loan of £190,000 to purchase the building, with the council paying as a contribution to the project at this juncture, any associated legal and purchase fees.

With the building purchased we can then spend the time this project deserves ensuring it is delivered to the optimum specifications within the most practical and workable framework and organisational foundation deemed possible. Timescale preferably would be that the purchase be completed by March 2022 and in tandem the establishment of a working group consisting of local stakeholders, town councillors, local artists to move the project forward and prepare all necessary plans, permissions, tenders etc for a submission to the PWLB and other potential funding bodies by September 2022.

This report clearly indicates it is not unrealistic to strive to achieve a financial objective that rests behind the creation, establishment and operation of this venue, underpinned with other activities mentioned, that this could be financially self sustainable (operational costs) very quickly and that there is a clear need and demand for such a facility both from the residents themselves and the art community.

Our External Funding Officer has identified many potential funding streams from the Art Council and National Lottery, to smaller more localised pots that would fund this project more than meets their criteria in the provision of community arts and their facilitation.

This project will be a catalyst to further regeneration and the vitality of the town of Driffield. The Funding pots will be more for the community element, not capital costs that will be met by another public works loan.

Recommendation:

To seek approval of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government to apply for a Public Works Loan Board loan of £190,000 over the borrowing term of 15 years for the purchase of Number 43 Market Place, Driffield. The annual loan repayments will come to around £14,500. It is not intended to increase the council tax precept for the purpose of the loan repayments.

(CB/Number 43. November 2021)

Supporting Documents: