We are proud to announce East Street Arts (ESA) as a partner on Pararchive. ESA is a contemporary arts organisation in Leeds, established to facilitate the development of visual artists through an in-house events programme, membership activities, professional development and studio/facility provision. ESA is a registered charity founded in 1993 at East Street Mills by Karen Watson and Jon Wakeman. After completing their Ceramics studies, Jon and Karen took reference and inspiration from the history and current developments within the artist-led movement and signed the lease for the third floor of a large Victorian mill complex – East Street Mills. Eight studios were developed at the site alongside professional support programmes for artists, and by 2002, they had grown from eight to forty-five spaces. In 2002, Jon and Karen bought Patrick Studios – a former social boxing club at the time, and developed it into artist studios, project space and offices. They relocated to Patrick Studios in May 2004.
ESA now has four permanent spaces, namely Patrick Studios, Union 105, Barkston, and Gateshead Hall Town. Since the launch of its in situ programme in 2010, ESA has acquired over 60 temporary spaces nationwide, helping to link temporary/empty spaces to artists and other creative practitioners. These spaces include Grade A offices, nightclubs, warehouses, retail units, and post-civic spaces among other things. ESA’s members profit from a range of benefits and professional development opportunities key among which are residency opportunities that ESA offers throughout the year, aimed at International artists, graduates, and their own members. These residences are
created to allow artists to take time out of their normal day-to-day surroundings and experience a new environment. ESA offers the artist time, space and resources to engage and share their thoughts and cultures of working with visitors through discussions, workshops and/or exhibitions. The residencies are non-prescriptive and process-based allowing the artist total freedom to play, experiment, and explore new ways of working. Other benefits that ESA members enjoy include workspace access, temporary space access, personal promotion, members’ profiles on the ESA website, annual Open Studios (the one this year is scheduled for the 24th – 26th of October), mentoring and professional development, Audio-Visual (AV) equipment loans, and open nights/events.
ESA has recently begun visiting other countries and exploring ways of working with other organisations. So far, this has resulted in artists’ exchanges, collective funding bids, and internships. In addition, there is an annual members’ research trip which helps further collaboration with other organisations and artists. This year’s trip was to the city of Barcelona. Over the years, ESA has been involved in a variety of projects deriving from its ambition to cater to and engage with a diverse range of audiences. Past projects have included live performances, exhibitions, artist talks, and interactive performances among other things. ESA is currently developing an innovative programme called “Live/Work
Space”, also referred to as the “Artist-in-House” programme. Initiated as the first of its kind, this unique programme is specifically designed for artists to live and work in a given area on a permanent basis while engaging with the resident communities. To this end, ESA has acquired a house in South Leeds over a five-year period during which an artist will respond to the interests and needs of the resident communities, particularly around helping to tackle issues of gentrification (making housing more affordable) and devising strategies for using land spaces more effectively. All this will involve
members of the resident communities telling stories of what their place and the people who live in it mean to them. It is here that Pararchive will collaborate with ESA, the artist, and resident communities to put together their narratives drawing on any existing archival material held by Pararchive’s institutional partners – the BBC and the Science Museum group. Considering the bigger picture, we hope that this collaboration will support ESA in understanding and managing its own archive better, and perhaps even making it publicly accessible, especially to those interested in ESA’s past work around the history of activism in the arts in Leeds.
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