‘Store Wars’ may benefit artists in Bath

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‘Store Wars’ may benefit artists in Bath

At a consultation event held in the University of Bath’s Innovation Centre on 13 June, a team from Sainsbury’s presented the latest proposals for the redevelopment of the eastern part of the Western Riverside area of Bath (the area presently occupied by Green Park Station, the Sainsbury’s supermarket and the Homebase store). The proposed redevelopment is likely to include a ‘Creative Hub’ to house small enterprises from the creative and cultural industries sector, and will involve some enhancement to Green Park Station – currently managed by Ethical Properties who lease the building from Sainsbury’s.

BANA Chairman, David Metcalfe, has attended all seven of Sainsbury’s consultation meetings over the past couple of years, advocating that the redevelopment should include some form of appropriate and affordable studio space for practising artists and makers. Also in recent years, Tesco has consulted with selected groups of artists in Bath about its own proposals to redevelop the former Bath Press site on the Lower Bristol Road. Out of all this, we anticipate, will emerge some kind of much needed new provision of studio space for Bath’s artists and makers, to enrich and complement the existing studio provision in the area.

There are many practising artists and makers working from individual studios or from home all across Bath and the surrounding area. But it is interesting to note that there is already a particular concentration of creative talent housed in three significant studio ‘complexes’ in the west-central area of Bath: at Bath Artists’ Studios (in Comfortable Place, off the Upper Bristol Road), at Black Chalk Studios (on Monmouth Place) and at 44AD (in the old pet shop off Lower Borough Walls). Together, these three studios house over 100 practising painters, print-makers, photographers, ceramicists, sculptors, and more. Each studio has different tenancy arrangements with its respective landlords, but none has real long-term security and so has no incentive to invest much in upgrading or extending their facilities.

The world over, wherever artists move to, developers tend to follow sooner or later. Hopefully, whether Sainsbury’s or Tesco win the ‘store wars’ in western Bath, artists and makers might eventually benefit and the city may yet get an artists and makers quarter it can be proud of. But in the meantime, let’s also work to help Bath Artists’ Studios, Black Chalk Studios and 44AD (all of which are home to BANA members) get greater security of tenure in the city.

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