Should the Depot complex be turned into an arts trust with studios, galleries and classes for the public?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Some personal thoughts

My personal thoughts...
The jaguar showroom would make the ideal reception and huge gallery once the partition walls are down and the full length of the depot with the collonade of cast iron pillars and huge ceiling beams are revealed. 
(I believe the Jaguar people are leaving anyway, but will double check and get back to you here)
The original tram lines for the horse drawn trams are still there running the full length and would be a great feature (just blocked in with perspex so you can still see them without tripping up.
The huge skylights (some blacked in, some boarded over) all over the "U" depot in the main depot, the studios on top, the "factory" end and the row of tram shed workshops could all be fully reinstated and updated with gas filled double glazing.
The current art and small craft and manufacturing residents and businesses could all stay. There are only a couple of businesses that would not fit in well and I believe they are happy to leave anyway, having expected this third planning application for re-development to go through. I know at least one non-art resident would like to leave and is only there because it's relatively cheap and convenient and would actually prefer a modern warehouse - unlike the artists, who really do need what is rapidly becoming the unique spaces the depot offers. Other warehousing will most definitely not be suitable for them.

However, I'm sure both the funders and the trust would be happy to keep established businesses as tenants as long as at least 80% of the depot is art allied. The remaining 20% would give the trust a regular income.
As it happens, the garage, being at the end of the sheds, could easily have it's own entrance, with minor alterations.

The final decision would be up to the trust membership - as that is likely to be made of the very people campaigning and supporting the idea - I think the likehood is that any business now there that is employing people, can go on paying rent and wants to stay would be welcomed by the trust.
However, in the main, it's the artists and galleries that really do want and need to stay - and they're the very residents we want to see stay as well - what could be better?
There is enough studio space (and current warehouse space) to equip the "Trust" with, in effect a small art college, with sculpture (wood and stone & clay) rooms, a painting & drawing studio as well as areas within the main gallery that could be used for less messy art and craft pursuits.
Many of the current residents could help pay for their rent by taking classes and where possible use their own studios, thereby increasing the space avaiable for classes.
Wouldn't it be great learning from practicing artists and sculptors?
As it happens, I know the answer is most definitely yes from personal experience.
The depot is structurally sound as well. Last year one of the residents took a few interested people through the whole site, from Upper Clapton Road to Prout Road and around the corner to Casimir Road (it's all tram depot) wich a local architect who has an interest in historic buildings.
It needs a lot of refurbishing with even the cobblestones needing taking up, their foundation renewing and then being re-laid, but it's for the most part just superficial.
It does need bringing up to todays insulation and energy standards and that would probably be the biggest single expense or close to it, unless a full scale "restoration" rather than "refurbishment" was undertaken.

It could all be done with relatively minor actual new building work or alteration or there could be new divisions of the larger spaces.
But it is all easily "do-able".
We just have do it!

shot taken from Prout Road