Eastville Project Space, founded in 2015, is a creative space at an old glove factory building, located in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Yeovil. We have worked with artists, community groups and local organisations across a wide range of art-forms.
In December 2018, it had to move due to the redevelopment of the building. It relocated to a temporary space in an industrial unit. It was a long walking distance from the town centre and nearby neighbourhoods, and it could only function as an artist studio and production space. It lost the sense of openness and the connection with the local communities, with a huge accessibility issue. So, the decision was made to take its public activities to the high street, through a series of pop-up exhibitions and events at the local shopping centre throughout 2019.
‘It was really hard work to set up for each of the pop-up projects. We never knew which and when a unit will be available next. It was almost impossible to plan ahead, nor do any fundraising and marketing. We struggled to keep up with our profile and audiences due to lack of consistency and visibility, although we were right in the heart of the high street.’
Talks had started in early 2019 with the shopping centre management, regarding a long-term lease. A voluntary working group then brought together local artists and professionals to develop the idea further. Right in the middle of the process of becoming a charity with multiple funding applications ready to go, we hit the lockdown due to Covid-19.
‘It was very disappointing and worrying at first, as all the funding routes have closed. We also realised everyone’s priorities had changed, it became very stressful and difficult to think about future plans! Many of us have caring responsibilities for young children and parents, no one seems to want to talk about vision and mission. We were unsure about applying for the Arts Council Emergency funding when we struggled to see clearly what the future may hold.’
‘6 weeks into the lockdown, we began to meet via facetime, conversations started to flow again between the group members, mainly about life and childcare! With businesses due to open again, we were able to move to the new unit as we previously planned to do so. This got everyone very excited resulting in quickly putting together low-cost programmes and activities with small fundings we received from a few sources. Although we are in strange times, we are proud to be finding new avenues for the communities that we served through our collective efforts and creative energy.’
From Monday 1st June, Eastville Project Space will be officially located on the high street. It is the only independent art space in Yeovil with a population of 30,000. The new move also enabled us to bring together a number of initiatives and projects with other creative businesses, groups and individuals; including Yeovil Creatives and Creation Generation. This is a step towards the development of a unique community art space for Yeovil.
Despite the current situation with limited public access at the moment, the public can see a bespoke window artwork created by French artist Stephaine Max, reflecting on the current events, alongside a window display of artworks from Yeovil Creatives.
There will also be a number of online events taking place during the next 6 months, including the participatory project ‘Apart Together‘ led by Yeovil Creatives; an audiovisual project ‘Chaotic Behavior’ led by Stephen Ives funded by Sound and Music; and a new project for family and local communities.
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