The Sorting Office receives £48,000 to invest in its artists
Eastleigh’s thriving designer-maker studios The Sorting Office has received almost £48,000 from Arts Council England to invest in its resident artists.
1. Fine artist Junko O'Neill presents her work to visitors at The Sorting Office (Photo credit: Harry Usborne)
The grant will be used to develop the practise and businesses of the 16 artists who are based at the studios in Wells Road, Eastleigh, as well as to support the growing artistic community in and around the borough.
Owned by Eastleigh Borough Council and managed by Southampton-based studio provider ‘a space’ arts, The Sorting Office supports 16 artists, ranging from illustrators and jewellery designers to an historical costumier and several textile artists.
The £47,487 Arts Council England cash injection will support a three-stage programme that will include:
- Professional Development: The introduction of a business mentorship programme for the studios’ 16 resident artists. Under the direction of an industry expert, appointed by Eastleigh Borough Council, each of the artists will be mentored while working on a series of professional development projects to support artistic progression as well as to explore new ways to grow their businesses.
- Sorting Office Associate Programme (SOAP) - The Sorting Office will launch an associate programme open to designer-makers in the region. It will aim to nurture and grow a community of non-resident artists, expanding Eastleigh’s already burgeoning creative industries network as well as to create a new exchange knowledge forum through regular talks, workshops and networking events.
- Production House Upgrade: The final strand of the programme is to invest in minor improvements to The Sorting Office’s hireable space: Production House. This attached workspace is currently hired out for workshops, makers’ fayres and meetings. It is hoped the planned improvements will extend its usage to include photoshoots and exhibitions.
The Arts Council support will not only provide a vital boost for Eastleigh Borough Council and a space arts, both of which strive to support the growth of art and culture in the region, but also cements The Sorting Office’s position as a centre of artistic excellence.
Eastleigh Borough Council Head of Culture Dr Cheryl Butler said:
“We’re really pleased that the Arts Council has seen the importance of places like The Sorting Office in the development of small designer-maker businesses.
“The grant will enable us to help people further develop their careers, and also open up a support programme for a wider network of creatives through the SOAP programme.”
Director of a-space arts Daniel Crow said:
“It’s all about growing a creative community outside of The Sorting Office’s walls.
“The project builds our relationship with the Arts Council South West, and it helps us develop the careers of the artists, along with diversifying the commercial side of things.
“The funding, particularly that allocated to The Sorting Office Associate Programme, will continue to grow Eastleigh's reputation as a centre for arts and culture, by providing a scheme which will be a significant benefit to local artists not yet involved with the studios"