A new independent Trust has been launched to protect and increase affordable artist workspace following the decline in artist studios in the capital.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as launched the new Creative Land Trust to help tackle the problem of rising rents in the capital by providing artists and creatives with affordable workspace. The organisation has been created with support from Arts Council England, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.
The Creative Land Trust is an independent organisation that will provide financing for affordable workspace providers to buy buildings and will purchase its own property to be used as permanent workspaces for artists in London.
It aims to secure 1,000 affordable workspaces in its first five years, helping artists to flourish and helping to maintain London’s status as an international cultural capital.
Retaining the creative community in London is central to the city’s success, with the creative industries contributing £47bn per year to the economy and accounting for one in six jobs in London. However, a shortage of affordable workspaces, rising rents and the insecurity of short-term leases threaten to constrain the future of the capital’s creative workforce and artist community.
Recent figures reveal that the decline in the number of artists’ workspaces in the capital has shown signs of stabilising. However, more work must urgently be done to protect affordable spaces and to create new studios across the city. Demand is also incredibly high with recent research showing 95 per cent occupancy and nearly 14,000 places on waiting lists across 27 studio providers.
The Mayor has pledged £4m to the Trust, with £2m from Arts Council England. Bloomberg Philanthropies have also come on board to fund the Trust, extending their commitment to empowering artists and local communities through innovative, city-led cultural programmes. This initial seed funding launches the independent organisation, with Outset Contemporary Art Fund bringing together public and private partners, and experienced workspace providers to deliver permanent secure workspace.
The Trust will work to secure investment to increase affordable workspaces in the city by bringing together local authorities, developers and the creative industries. The returns generated by providing financing will be reinvested into the Trust.
The Creative Land Trust is calling on developers to provide the Trust with funding or suitable buildings for affordable workspace. Local authorities are also being invited to work with the Trust to safeguard local affordable workspace for artists and creatives to use. Outset Contemporary Art Fund, the international charity pioneering arts philanthropy with funding solutions, brings together the initial funding from public and private partners with a call for future investment.
This approach has been inspired by a similar model in San Francisco, where a ‘Community Arts Stabilization Trust’ (CAST) has established an approach to safeguard creative communities in the face of rising rents. The Creative Land Trust has appointed an Interim Director, Sara Turnbull, who will bring over a decade’s worth of experience in theatre, events and delivering sustainable community and built-environment projects. Sara will lead the Trust during the period when the trustees are appointed.
The launch of the Trust is the latest in a series of groundbreaking policies from the Mayor to protect and grow London’s creative economy. These include launching London’s first Creative Enterprise Zones, which will boost local jobs in the creative sector, and publishing the most pro-culture draft London Plan, which will protect culture and heritage across the capital, from pubs and music venues to dance studios.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Creativity and innovation are at the heart of London’s success – they are what draws people from all over the world to visit, live and work in our city. This innovative new fund will protect London’s artists from the pressure of unstable leases and rising rents and ensure that the next generation of creatives are given the support and space they need to flourish. I’ve been clear that London is open for business and creativity, and protecting our creative sector will help the capital remain a creative and forward-looking city for the future.”