Amidst growing concerns that shrinking space and skyrocketing rents are pricing London’s creative community out of the Capital, one brand new project is a step towards restoring some of the balance.
Town Gas is a brand new arts facility on the edge of the City that combines studio space for celebrated ceramist Aaron Angell and creative resources for artists, schools and community groups.
The project was conceived by Create London, a social enterprise organisation that tries to find new ways for artists to make meaningful contributions to the lives of people in urban environments.
Positioned in the heart of Hoxton, Town Gas is a unique prospect for this development hotspot, where soaring rents have seen artists departing in their droves in recent years.
As a trade-off for use of the space, Angell, who has exhibited internationally as Troy Town Pottery, has been working with a group of unemployed young people to train them up in ceramics and the use of the studio’s kiln, the only publicly accessible gas kiln in London.
The aim is to employ several from the group as apprentice studio assistants to further develop their skills in administration and management.
Create’s director Hadrian Garrard said the transactional element of the project is what makes it sustainable in the long term.
“These are roles that would go to arts graduates, not kids that have been through the school system in the East End, so what Aaron is doing is actually give them a great deal of employable skills,” he said.
“Town Gas has supported Aaron to find a new studio, but also to embed himself in the community, ensuring his work has a positive and lasting impact on the people around him.”
It’s this medley of benefits that attracted Bank of America Merrill Lynch to the project, having partnered with Create on various activations over the last eight years.
BAML’s arts and culture manager Emma Balfour said Create’s remit of not only supporting artists, but providing them with opportunities to give back to connect the City and its fringes was particularly appealing.
“I think there are still a lot of people out there who don’t understand what the point of art and artists are in our society,” she said.
“Art is a big educator and a big connector, and artists like Aaron are feeling the need to connect with their audiences and prove their value in different ways, which is why an initiative like this is so important.”