In recent years Acme has taken the lead role, working with other studio groups and organisations and the Arts Council, in the strategic development of the affordable artists' studio sector in England.
Acme has always understood the need for studio groups to work together: 'There is a case for all groups working in the area of provision of studio space and accommodation to co-operate and to pool resources and information, rather than to continue the fragmentary development being done at the moment'. (The Acme Housing Association, brochure, May 1976). The need for collective action to promote the value of affordable studio providers, to help emerging studio groups and make the case for greater support had been aired over many years and by many studio organisations.
In 2003 we embarked on a survey of artists' studio groups and organisations in England in June 2004 with financial support from Arts Council England. To ensure a high level of response and reliable data we decided to conduct the survey by face-to-face interviews. We made over 130 visits throughout England and the final survey report is based on 116 studio groups and organisations and 166 studio buildings.
A register of studio groups and organisations in England was published at the same time as the survey report. Data for the register was collected at the time of the survey and later on some further groups and organisations were added.
The survey and associated work provided the first detailed and comprehensive review of artists' studios in England. It serves not only to celebrate and promote its achievements, but also, importantly, to help others to support its continuing existence, development and vitality.
What the survey revealed is a hugely valuable, independent, distinctive and successful sector supporting over 4,000 artists with low-cost studio space with very little public funding support. However, it is also a network under threat with over 800 studio units 'at risk' i.e. likely to close, over the next ten years.
The resulting publications, A survey of artists' studio groups and organisations in England (May 2005), and A register of artists' studio groups and organisations in England (May 2005 and June 2006), are available to download in Further Reading. Further publications, including past issues of the Acme newsletter, can be found in Publications.
For more information, see 'Strategic Development' in Further Reading.
Artist Kathy Prendergast in her studio at Orsman Road, N1. Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2011)
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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.