Success follows success for the artists of The NewBridge Project. As DAVID WHETSTONE reports, they’re soon to open in Gateshead
Demolition could have spelled doom for an artists’ collective in Newcastle. Instead they moved to smart new premises nearby and are now about to pop up in Gateshead.
The NewBridge Project: Gateshead is shortly to open on the High Street in an empty shop unit that used to be Poundland and before that was Woolworth.
Artists will breathe new life into the old unit in a collaboration between the artist-led NewBridge Project and Newcastle University’s Institute for Creative Arts Practice (NICAP).
The building will be a base for artists, photographers, architects, filmmakers and others as they establish themselves professionally. It will also be the base for a graduate development programme.
The NewBridge Project has been a North East success story since it was established in Newcastle in 2010 by a pair of Newcastle University fine art graduates.
It provided a supportive environment and an affordable space to work for arts graduates in the former office block, Norham House, on New Bridge Street West.
Peppercorn rents were possible because eventually the building would be demolished and the occupants would have to move on or disperse.
By the time Norham House was scheduled for demolition, the NewBridge Project had become acknowledged as a valuable addition to the city centre.
It was recently granted four-year funding by Arts Council England, as part of its National Portfolio, from April 2018.
As the demolition team moved in early this year, the Newcastle artists moved into nearby Carliol House where they have signed a longer lease which means more security.
The Gateshead development, also going under the name The Collective Studio, is the latest chapter in this particular success story.
Julie Sanders, pro-vice chancellor at Newcastle University, said a graduate development programme based at NewBridge Project’s Gateshead offshoot, also known as The Collective Studio, would help to bridge the gap between university and work.
“Our graduates play a vital role in the cultural economy of the North East and this programme demonstrates the university’s commitment to furthering their contribution to our region’s cultural ecology,” she said.
“We are delighted to work with The NewBridge Project.
“Their development from a pop-up initiative to Arts Council National Portfolio organisation in seven short years is testimony to the strength of talent our universities produce and to the value of collaboration between higher education and the creative sectors.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Charlie Gregory, director of The NewBridge Project, who said The Collective Studio demonstrated an ambition to work together to support artists early in their careers.
“We are excited to be launching The Collective Studio with Newcastle University who have shown invaluable support for NewBridge, our programme and artist-led approach and generating new forms of graduate support,” she said.
The graduates based there will be able to take part in professional workshops led by leaders in their respective fields. They will also have access to a mentor and be able to draw on expertise within Newcastle University.
The scheme will culminate in an exhibition of the work they have produced.
As well as the graduate scheme, The NewBridge Project: Gateshead will provide space for artists at any stage of their career and house NewBridge Gallery, which will present a programme of contemporary art exhibitions and commissions.