All this empty office/warehouse space in London! A new website to hook up artists with no money to empty rehearsal/workshop space.

alan sharpington, 7 February 2013

HOSTED BY Alan Sharpington

Melanie Grossenbacher, Oli Back, Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart, Ilayda Arden, Grace Gummer, Daniela Pasquini, Kristin Fredricksson, Dan Woods, Adam Milford, Ofer Yatziv, Lucy Kallan, Robert Cook, Richard Jaques, Maria Thomas


Steven Whinnery

I hosted this session due to free or very cheap rehearsal space almost always being necessary. And it almost always is impossible to find. My proposal is to build a website that creates a listing of temporarily empty commercial/industrial space and connects artists with no money for rehearsal, workshop or build space. In return the artist offers a ‘reward’ in the style of crowd-funding ie, free tickets, open rehearsal, run a workshop, helping with refurbishment etc. If successful, I would like to have an annual free festival of work to celebrate the unfounded London arts scene.

I will list the notes of the session here as much of what was said requires research to follow it up.


  • Suggestions for contacting businesses
  • Local Councils
  • Property management companies
  • Security firms who specialise in live-in security (Camelot/Live-in Guardians/Ad-hoc)
  • Occupy London
  • Anyspacedirect (Mayoral initiative)
  • Comet

Supporters could email details of empty properties they see to the site Arts and Business

How to reach artists:

  • Social networks
  • Ideas Tap
  • Industry forums (ACE, SJP etc)
  • Fringe theatre mailing lists

People cited a few examples of companies and websites doing similar things: Occupy London
Meanwhile Space
Empty Shops network
CLR Library, Dalston (Space for artists)
However, many of these came with some restrictions that seemed quite exclusive, (such as age limited, pop-up shop fronts) and not really aimed at artists needing rehearsal or workshop space. However, the very existence of all these other sites indicates a demand in need of supply. (Incidentally, I later spoke to Alex Rennie from The Yard theatre in Hackney, who offer their companies free rehearsal space AND a cut of the box office).

The creating and building of this project is a large undertaking and it was agreed that a team of volunteers, or a collective, would almost certainly be necessary. It was also suggested that specificity would be needed from the very beginning. This means:
How we incentivise businesses to take part

Being aware of the needs of both artists and businesses, i.e. an agreement with artists to protect the inventory of the space and general code of conduct, perhaps building a reputation rating. And for the artists, specifics of what is available to them within the space in terms of facilities/utilities etc

Giving businesses an idea of artistic content (someone cited an example of a rehearsal in a nunnery of inappropriate material!) if requested.
Building a positive, personal relationship with sponsors

An ‘in kind’ monetary value should be placed on a space by the business concerned. This can then be included in funding applications.

At this point, I would like to mention two things that happened:

Steven Whinnery has a workshop space available in Stratford that he would happy to put on the website – our first free space!!

Ofer, manager of York Hall, has offered his help and support in his professional capacity. He has organised some comedy nights in free space through Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils, although has only been successful since presenting himself as the manager of York Hall!

Any thoughts, ideas or questions, please contact me [email protected]

Tags: sharing spaces, empty space, offices, warehouses, space, found space, found spaces, spaces, empty shops, empty shop