Acme Studios, supporting art and artists since 1972


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Acme Studios' CEO Jonathan Harvey to stand down in March 2016


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 today 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 September. 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.

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 found ing 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.

Duncan Pickstock at the Acme Project Space


Duncan Pickstock, the inaugural recipient of the Rita Harris Studio Award, presents a solo exhibition of paintings at the Acme Project Space made during his year on the award.

Pickstock’s large-scale paintings are an attempt to move on, to move forward and closer to a state of resolve, towards a harmonious conclusion, that is always the goal but one that he accepts is unachievable. Painting is then a journey for Pickstock, a journey that the artist sets out on knowing that the destination, this arrival at a state of resolution, will never be reached.

Accompanying full colour catalogue, with essay written by Paul O' Kane (Artist, Writer & Lecturer) will be available. Designed, printed and supported by Tom Clark and Printhouse Corporation.

'Are we there yet?'
Duncan Pickstock

26.4.2015 - 26.5.2015

Thursday to Sunday 1pm to 6pm
Private View: Thursday 2 April, 6pm to 9pm

Fire Station Artists Announced


The artists selected for Acme Studios’ Fire Station Work/Live Residency Programme 5 (2015-2020) are: Aaron Angell, Holly Antrum, Leah Capaldi, Lucy Clout, Samantha Donnelly, Alex Frost, Seth Guy, Richard Healy, Rizwan Mirza, Geraldine Swayne, Michelle Ussher and Lucy Woodhouse.

The programme is designed to provide a breathing space for artists enabling them to plan ahead with greater certainty, supporting the development of their practice at a time when it is most needed. The programme provides low-cost work/live space for 12 artists from April 2015 until March 2020 and is one the most supportive schemes for professional artists in the UK.

165 applications from across the UK were submitted and the final selection made, from a shortlist of 25, by the panel consisting of Julia Lancaster (Acme Studios’ Residency and Projects Manager), Erika Tan and Ben Cove who are both practicing artists and former Fire Station tenants.

Ben Cove explains, “I was not at all surprised that there was such a high number of applicants as the security of five years in a subsidised work/live space is almost impossible to come by. The overall standard of applicants was very high and selecting 12 was not easy. As someone who sat on the other side of the interview table 10 years ago, I’m fully aware of what this will mean to those selected.”

The Fire Station Work/Live Residency Programme is one part of Acme’s Residency & Awards Programme which this year will help and support 27 UK-based artists. The wide range of programmes include subsidised work/live units, cash bursaries, artist exchanges, purpose-built subsidised and rent-free studios for recent graduates, as well as mentoring, advice and exhibition opportunities.

As a previous beneficiary, Ben Cove understands that the Fire Station “is invaluable to many artists who work hard to maintain and build their practices while meeting the ever increased costs of living and working in the capital”.

Short biographies and examples of each of the 12 artists selected for the Fire Station Programme 5 (2015-2020) can be found at:

Acme IRP seeks Administrator


For over 27 years, Acme IRP has enabled international governments, cultural agencies and foundations to offer artists major work/live residencies in London. In recent years, Acme IRP has expanded to include new partners and programmes. Our mentoring scheme and bespoke programming means we are working with increasing numbers of artists, galleries and arts organisations in London and across the UK.

In order to support this growth, we have created a two day a week permanent post of International Residencies Programme (IRP) Administrator supporting and reporting to the IRP Manager, Lea O’Loughlin.

The IRP Administrator role is being promoted exclusively to practising non-commercial fine artists in order to benefit artists through the provision of secure part-time employment consistent with the organisation’s charitable purposes and recruitment policy.

For more information about the role, including Job Description, please visit:

Love Enqvist at the Acme Project Space


The World Turned Upside Down is an exhibition of new work by Iaspis 2013/14 residency artist Love Enqvist at the Acme Project Space. For this exhibition Enqvist has harvested radical gardening references using them to create an environment for imaginary gardens. Each of Enqvist’s layered references begins with an historical character, whose solitary obsession with gardens was inspired by a spiritual belief. The exhibition is a labyrinth of imagery and language, and at its centre is an invitation to create an imaginary garden through a hypnotic process. The title, taken from Leon Rosselson's folk song of the same name, references the 17th century movement the Diggers and introduces the concept that assumed knowledge can be 'turned upside down'.

‘The World Turned Upside Down’
Love Enqvist

6.2.2015 - 8.2.2015

Thursday to Sunday 1pm to 6pm
Private View: Thursday 5 February, 6pm to 8pm

Acme Studios mentioned in the Lords


A question was asked in a Short Debate in the House of Lords on Monday by Nicholas Trench concerning Government Support for Artists. Under his title The Earl of Clancarty, the practising artist and crossbench peer outlined the pressures facing artists such as low-pay, copyright and the cost of renting a studio. Arguing that “artists need reasonably permanent cheap spaces”, Acme was referred to as “the success story in London”. He went on to explain that: “The keys to that success are the long-term support and the fact that Acme has managed to buy its own buildings. But where that is not possible Section 106 agreements might be used by local authorities in areas where studio space is required, enabling continued employment use in buildings and a guaranteed 100% occupancy. This is something that the Government ought to be encouraging where it is appropriate to do so.”

Acme has successfully used Section 106 agreements to achieve permanent affordable studio space for artists in new-build developments in six London boroughs. It has long argued that local authorities and development agencies can do more to support fine artists through existing planning legislation.

The transcript of The Earl of Clancarty’s question and the government’s response can be found via Hansard:

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National Housing Federation member | NFASP member | Supported using public funding by Arts Council England

Between 1996 and 2012 Acme received £3.2m of capital funding from Arts Council England which supported the creation of six permanent affordable studios in London: Copperfield Road, Fire Station, Galleria, Harrow Road, Leven Road and Matchmakers Wharf. This resulted in 186 studios and 12 work/live units in four London boroughs.