Sheffield Council considers £200,000 sale of city centre art studio to charity

Yorkshire Artspace director Kate Dore at Exchange Place Studios.
Yorkshire Artspace director Kate Dore at Exchange Place Studios.
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A thriving Sheffield art space could become a permanent city fixture if councillors vote to sell the building to charity this week.

Yorkshire Artspace has made a huge success of Exchange Place Studios in Castlegate since moving in three years ago.

Russ Young at Exchange Place Studios.

Russ Young at Exchange Place Studios.

The arrangement has so far been temporary - despite Yorkshire Artspace investing £200,000 in the art deco building - but that could change on Wednesday when the city council's cabinet votes on whether or not to sell Exchange Place Studios to the charity.

The sale would come in the form of a 100-year lease at a discounted cost of £200,000. If councillors approve the sale, the charity will apply to the Arts Council for £500,000 to buy the building and carry out further refurbishments.

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Artists Sam Bryan.

Artists Sam Bryan.

Yorkshire Artspace director Kate Dore said: "We have more than 80 people whose livelihoods depend on it, so we think it's really important.

"It takes a lot to establish a creative business. It's not just setting up your workshop, but getting people to know where you are and working with other people.

"It would be a real shame for them to then have to move."

The report to councillors ahead of Wednesday's meeting highlights the success the charity has made of the studio - its third in Sheffield, after Persistence Works and Manor Oaks Studios.

It praises the 100 per cent take-up of studios and the 'public engagement' created through events, exhibitions and pop-up shops.

But it recognises the Castlegate area as one of huge regeneration potential, identifying the possibility that the value of the building could rise significantly in the future. As a result, the report proposes two conditions: a buyback option for the council - available after 40 years and for the original sale price - and an opportunity, with six months' notice, for Yorkshire Artspace to force the council to exercise the buyback after 25 years, or the option falls away.

Kate believes the chance of a permanent home in a thriving part of the city is too good to pass up.

"We have invested quite a lot in the building," she said. "The collaborations that go on in that building are amazing. It really warms my heart. A lot of artists work better is part of a group.

"It's a really exciting part of the city. It's not just long term - it's already starting to happen. Usually artists move into an area that no-one wants to be. They make it fashionable, everyone else moved in and the artists are forced out. But we are determined to break that pattern."

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