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CRAVEN Arts House is well on the way to opening as Craven’s new and exciting arts space, making use of a redundant former Skipton youth and community centre in Otley Street.

The first two phases of the refurbishment will soon be completed. The project has been a long held ambition for Craven Arts and working with Craven District Council has helped to bring the former school into the 21st century as a contemporary arts space.

A spokesperson said: “The building will be for all those involved in the creative industries as well as for the visiting public, with a focus on providing opportunities for creative young people. There will be a suite of lockable creative studio spaces, two music rooms, a community hall for hire, disabled facilities with level access and rooms for workshops and classes aimed at the public.

“The refurbishment will provide attractive, safe, contemporary spaces with 24/7 facilities and music rooms particularly designed for use by young people. There will be a range of programmes to provide opportunities for people in Craven and the surrounding area.”

Craven Arts House is building on the work of the Great Place project for Craven and the South Lakes, which has highlighted the regional need for workspace and mentoring opportunities for young people working in the creative industries sector. There is no existing provision of this kind

in the area. It will contribute to the town’s standing as a place of contemporary cultural importance as well as its importance as a heritage town.

Craven Arts became a charity in 2017 and provides studio spaces, workshops for the public, an annual open studios event and selling opportunities for artists. It has a growing membership of 85 artist and associate members in 2022. It already has a small studio/workshop premises in Otley Street and, until recently, the old TSB building at Caroline Square in Skipton.

It also programmes exhibitions of its members’ work in the Mill Bridge Gallery, Skipton, that are popular with the public.

Since 2017 Craven Arts founding members have been working on the Craven Arts House project. Craven District Council were able to gain the capital funding needed to make a good start on the project with the Heritage Action Zone funding received in 2020. Despite rising costs the building work got underway in early 2022.

The Arts Council contributed 150K to the music rooms and central hall element of the work.

Activities will continue to take place in Skipton but will be focused on Craven Arts House with the head office of Craven Arts based there. The building will continue to be owned by Craven District Council and leased to Craven Arts on a peppercorn rent. A part time project manager will be employed to run the bespoke training programmes and manage the studio spaces and public events. The overall management of the building, decision making, and strategic thinking will be carried out by the board with the guidance of the new

executive team.

The Craven Arts board is made up of a group of experienced professional creatives: educators, business advisors, digital artists, festival producers, former managers of gallery and studio spaces. In addition to the board, a group of young creative champions have acted as advisors.

Opening in January 2023, Craven Arts House will comprise the following:

Five lockable studio spaces accessible 24 hours a day and seven days a week for creative individuals and small business start ups.

There will be two exhibition spaces, a sound-proofed music suite with two chambers,

There will be a green screen room for filming and augmented reality projects. Meeting room and workshop area for education.

A community hall for hire- suitable for live performance, spoken word and comedy, talks, tea dances, small live music gigs, sporting events or children’s parties.

Five virtual spaces, each with a locker for post and parcels, available for any business, not just those involved in the creative industries.

Area to sell cards and 2D artwork. This is to be a pilot for a larger craft space to be

established at a later date.

Craven Arts has historically been a volunteer led organisation with membership fees supporting the work of the organisation. This exciting new building enables Craven Arts to become an innovative organisation that increases cultural activity in Craven, providing a long-needed hub for that activity.


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