Mission Statement

a space: growing creative communities strives to provide opportunities for emerging artists to make new work, develop their careers and for audiences in Southampton and the surrounding regions to engage with high quality artistic experiences.

We achieve this through a growing infrastructure of project platforms, currently consisting of the Arches Studios, Tower House, The Sorting Office, Public Art Projects, Talent Development and Studio Providers Network South.  Our studio projects offer a diversity of spaces to support creative careers, catering for the visual arts, screen based practices and designer makers.

At ‘a space’ we believe that art can be many things, including painting, drawing and sculpture but also installation, intervention, photography, performance and the moving image. It can take up whole spaces or tiny corners, be imposing and impressive or discreet and beautiful. It might sometimes be controversial, and may not always be everyone’s taste – but should always be stimulating, new and certainly never dull!

The History of ‘a space’ arts

In 2000 the organisations founding members realised the infrastructure for emerging artists to make and exhibit work in Southampton was lacking and an idea took root.  The motivation was summoned, a vision was conceived and our work began to change the local cultural landscape and create a supportive environment for emerging artists.

In October 2002 the Northam Road gallery, an artist led space, launching the organisation, enabling us to test early ideas, refine our vision and gather supporters to our cause.

Since those early days our work has progressed, growing incrementally and strategically across multiple projects and we have become a registered charity with regional profile. We continue to take an enterprising approach in delivering our work and have developed a portfolio of innovative projects to achieve our goals of supporting emerging artists and inspiring audiences.

The timeline below shows our evolution through the platforms we have developed, including gallery spaces, affordable artist studios and professional development projects.

Our focus on developing artist studio spaces has played a key role in growing the regions affordable studio sector and we now manage 50 artist studios.  Our inaugural studio project the Arches focuses on visual arts and in 2015 celebrates its 10th birthday.  Alongside this Tower House supports screen based practice and The Sorting Office offers affordable workspaces predominantly for designer makers.

To complement these physical spaces we lead on the Studio Providers Network South that gives managers from 14 studio projects from across Southern Hampshire a networking platform.

Our exhibitions projects grew from Northam Road through ArtVaults, an innovative project that utilises medieval vaults underneath Southampton’s city centre, reopening them as exhibition and performance spaces.  The inaugural ArtVaults season in 2004 illuminated the dynamic combination arts and heritage can create and gave the organisation its first experiences of culturally reanimating historic sites.

To further grow this work and build on our foundations we set our sights on converting the Bargate, the historic mediaeval gateway to the old town.  The Bargate Monument Gallery (BMG) opened in 2006 creating opportunities for artists through establishing an innovative exhibitions programme and building the organisations profile, curatorial skills and audiences.

In 2012 we proactively embarked on our most ambitious project to date, Gods House Tower.  This new project will exponentially grow our work along with opportunities for artists by creating a new dynamic exhibitions programme within a distinctive venue.

Our work to date has achieved a lot; however there is a lot more to come!

More About Our Projects…

The Sorting Office