The Birley, Preston’s city centre contemporary art space, was set up in 2014 by Ben Rutherford and Steph Fletcher to address the dire need for affordable artists’ studio spaces in the city.Advertisement
Situated opposite the Box Market, The Birley is wheelchair accessible, bright, and welcoming; featuring a refurbished gallery and project space.
Resident artists and directors Rob Mullender-Ross and Florian Houlker liaise with artists and Preston City Council, and look after the day-to-day running of the studios, gallery, and the not-for-profit company. The Birley is a Community Interest Company, a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders.
“We are trying to set The Birley on a course that ensures our place in the city is secure,” said Rob. “We think we are going to be an important part of the future of the Harris Quarter.
“Three years ago, we managed to secure the upstairs space in our building, which meant we were able to more than double the number of artists we could accommodate, bringing us to 28 in all.
“The fee our artists pay covers the day-to-day running of the studios and not much else. Our gallery space is an amazing resource that we want to see used to its fullest potential, and this needs a bit of funding to do. And since contemporary art is a hugely valuable part of our culture in so many ways, it makes sense for us that artists should be paid, as well as the folks who help install and look after the art while it’s on show to the public.”
Rob and Florian are planning to bring a year of exhibitions and events to the people of Preston in 2023 and 2024. From painting and sculpture to experimental film and video, sound art and performance, workshops, artist’s talks, and classes, they have a packed schedule planned. It’s due to begin in the spring, bringing in artists from across the UK as well as showcasing their resident talent. To make this happen, they are currently fundraising.
“You can pledge as little as £2 but that pledge is worth far more than that,” said Rob. “This campaign is as much about support and community as it is about money!”
To find out more information visit The Birley’s Spacehive page, where you can also make an online pledge.
Stay up to date with news from The Birley artist studios and project space via The Birley’s Facebook page and Instagram page.
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