Acme Studios is England’s leading affordable artists’ studio developer and provider. Formed by recent art school graduates in 1972 the organisation has been led by Jonathan Harvey and David Panton since its inception.
It was announced in April that, after 44 years, Jonathan Harvey, Acme Studios’ Chief Executive will be standing down with effect from March 2016. A new Chief Executive will be appointed by January 2016 and the post advertised in early July. Jonathan (working with his co-founder, staff and board) has, since 1972, established a permanent organisation which supports art and artists at the most fundamental level by investing in creative risk taking through the provision of affordable space, residencies and awards, as well as playing an important strategic national role supporting the affordable studios sector. He, and David Panton, were appointed Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year 2014 Honours List for services to the arts.
Jonathan believes that this is the perfect time to move on from his role as Chief Executive:
“From April this year Acme will become a self-sustaining organisation without, for the first time in over 40 years, the need for Arts Council revenue funding. The past support of the Arts Council has made a critical contribution to this success. Through revenue and significant capital funding we have been able to develop a permanent portfolio of affordable, high-quality and permanent studios; a resource which will support generations of artists into the future. We can now plan with a considerable degree of certainty and, working with our partners, build on our achievements. While no longer in receipt of Arts Council England revenue funding we very much look forward to maintaining a dialogue with the funding body.”
Peter Heslip, Director, Visual Arts and London, Arts Council England, said:
“Jonathan has been instrumental in the success of Acme Studios over the last 40 years and I know that everyone would like to thank him for his contribution. Under his leadership Acme has gone from strength to strength. The 2013/14 archive exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, focusing on Acme’s first decade and celebrating its first 40 years, captured the long-term impact this organisation has had on artists living and working in London. It has truly changed the fabric of the city for artists in a way which is not always visible, but is essential. Arts Council England has valued our long-standing partnership with Acme as a National Portfolio Organisation. Acme’s decision not to apply to us in the last funding round was a singular one, and is a testimony to their successful business planning and ambition to be independent. We look forward to working with and supporting David Panton and the team on future projects.”
Jonathan will continue to serve on Acme’s board and continue his work to establish a permanent publicly-accessible archive for the organisation. David Panton, Director Property, will continue in his current role until 2019 when he plans to stand down from the day-to-day executive team. The phasing of the co-founders’ move from their executive roles, and their continuing involvement as board members will provide an important level of continuity. Richard Millward, until recently a director of Rothschild, who has served on Acme’s board for a number of years, has been appointed Acme’s new Chair and will oversee, with the board and the management team, this period of transition and take the organisation forward over the next period.
Founded by Jonathan Harvey and David Panton in 1972, Acme Studios is a London-based charity which provides affordable studio space and residencies and awards for non-commercial fine artists. Through this provision it has helped over 7,000 artists and continues to make a vital contribution to the development of art and artists’ careers. Acme currently supports over 650 artists and manages 570 studios in 15 buildings in Greater London, offering a wide range of high-quality, long-term and professionally-managed space including permanent new-build studios. In addition to affordable studio space, Acme offers a Residency & Awards Programme which is one of the most supportive and extensive in the UK, and an International Residencies Programme which manages 22 artists’ residencies in London for international governments, cultural agencies and foundations.
Jonathan Harvey founded Acme Studios with David Panton in 1972. He completed a BA Fine Art at Reading University (1967–71) and an MA at Chelsea School of Art (1971–72). He ran The Acme Gallery (1976–81) in Covent Garden which established a significant reputation for its uncompromising approach to the presentation of installation and performance work. In 1977, he co-founded TSW-Television South West (1982–92) the ITV franchise holder for the South West of England. He worked as their Arts Consultant and as an associate producer on arts and experimental programmes, and co-curated two pioneering international site-specific public art projects, TSWA 3D (1987) and TSWA’s Four Cities Projects (1990). He was Chairman of Arnolfini, Bristol (1993–2006), where he oversaw their major capital lottery project at Bush House. He played a key role in establishing a national body to represent affordable studio providers and in 2006 became a founding trustee of the National Federation of Artists’ Studios Providers. He is currently a trustee of High House Production Park Ltd., Purfleet, Essex. He, and David Panton, were appointed Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year 2014 Honours List for services to the arts.
Arts Council support
Since 1973 Acme Studios has received a total of £8.36m from the national/regional arts funding system. Of this, £5.1m has been in the form of capital and associated grants (including £1.2m from the National Lottery in 1996, and £2.0m in 2004/05) and £3.0m in annual revenue support (since 1975). In 2011 Acme successfully applied for revenue funding to become a National Portfolio Organisation (2012/15) explicitly on the understanding that the organisation would not apply again as it was moving towards being self-sustaining.