Creative Industries Festival: Community Ownership in the Arts

How can we safeguard our precious independent cinemas, live music & other venues vital for developing new talent & building creative communities? Cultural organisations going into community ownership.

As the cost of living crisis bites, many arts organisations across the UK are facing either radical change or possible closure. How can we safeguard our precious independent cinemas, live music and other venues which are so vital for developing new talent and building creative communities? One option now available to these organisations is to place themselves into community ownership. This usually involves raising finance through a community share offer and converting their business into a community benefit organisation or co-operative. This can be a cost-effective way of putting their activity onto a sustainable footing as well as increasing engagement with audiences who effectively become stakeholders in their business.

In this event we will discuss the experience of three arts organisations which are now community-owned: The Exchange, a live music venue in Bristol; Komedia, a comedy club and performance space in Bath, and Oxford’s independent cinema, The Ultimate Picture Palace. We will also examine community fundraising projects, such as Own Our Venues, which recently raised £2.3m to safeguard six more live music spaces. What were the challenges of this process, and what benefits did it eventually bring? Is this solution viable for all types of arts venues in all locations or only for more affluent areas? And what can other arts venues learn from this alternative ownership model?

Featuring Micaela Tuckwell (UPP); Richard Daws (Komedia); Matt Otridge (Exchange)

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