The following article about the first year of Worthing's new creative coworking hub, Colonnade House, was written by its manager, Clare Halstead. Interesting stuff and great to imagine where Weston's new hub, The Stable, might be this time next year.

Overview of Colonnade House, Worthing

Colonnade House is a thriving creative hub for Worthing, hosting exhibitions and events and providing studio spaces for people working in the creative industries. Sited in a popular pedestrianised town centre area amidst cafes, restaurants and shops, Colonnade House has three floors of studio spaces and two ground floor galleries.

Funding and management

In 2015 Worthing Borough Council made a successful application to the Coastal Communities Fund for £245,000 to refurbish the building and set it up as a creative hub. Following the refurbishment, the building was leased to Adur & Worthing Trust, a local charity that supports arts and culture and it is currently managed through a partnership between the Trust and the Council with a staff team of three, including one apprentice.

Studios

Colonnade House officially opened as a creative hub in September 2016 and one year on the ten studio spaces are running at around 80% occupancy and are let to people working across the creative industries – from animators to illustrators, and photographers to painters.

Gallery spaces

The two gallery spaces on the ground floor are Colonnade House’s windows to the outside world. Visitors can see regularly changing exhibitions of work by local artists, and our seasonal Pop-up Shops sell a range of work made by our tenants. The two gallery spaces are a vibrant addition to the ‘cultural encounters’ aspect of Worthing’s visitor economy. The gallery spaces are hired predominantly by local artists and contribute to the growing reputation of Worthing as a creative destination.  Since opening in September 2016 to the end of August 2017 we hired these spaces to 33 different artists and organisations and have averaged 1000 visitors a month.

Professional Development

Our role as a creative hub includes a professional development programme serving the local creative community through networking, skills sharing, business planning and fundraising. In our first year we have had 177 attendances at 16 events.

Projects

We successfully applied to Arts Council England for funding for a digital installation project Geminate II which ran in March 2017 attracting large audiences physically and online and gaining TV coverage from BBC South.

Impact

Colonnade House is primarily an economic development project, seeking to contribute to the regeneration of Worthing through investment in the creative industries. Colonnade House fits the current strategic approach being taken by Adur & Worthing Councils – ‘Platforms for our Places’ – which recognises the enabling role for councils in helping communities and businesses thrive.  A recent DCMS commissioned report into the economic impact of investment in culture, heritage and sport published in August 2017 gives some more context to how this can be achieved within the creative sector.

Conclusion

After a successful first year, we are looking forward to continuing to support the growth of the creative industries in Worthing and working with an even wider range of partners. Our galleries are already close to fully booked for 2018, and we will be starting the year with a project to support the development of the music scene in Worthing plus a short film season promoting local film-makers as well as another round of professional development sessions.
 
Find out more about Colonnade House on our website, sign up for our newsletter, or even better – come and visit!

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Great news from Worthing and here's to Weston's similar success...

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