Like many creatives, I used to make all my work in my home. It seems like a great idea, until you realize that you keep getting distracted – by the big pile of washing and other endless tasks that can easily fill your day – leaving you with little or no creative work to show for your time. For me, there were other problems with working at home. I couldn’t leave my work out because other people needed to use the space. Getting it all out and then putting it all away before people came home from work and school took up a fair bit of the day. But perhaps one of the biggest disadvantages of working at home for me was the lack of contact with other creatives. Working on my own everyday led to a real narrowing of my perspective – and it was easy to lose confidence in my ideas. I made the decision to rent a small studio space in a building with other creatives – and it is definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made.
If you are thinking about working in a space outside your home, Bristol has a number of options on offer. Meanwhile Creative is an organisation that has been working to provide a range of affordable spaces for rent by creatives (and others) for the last few years. Run by a passionate team of just four people, the organisation was established with two goals in mind:
To unlock dormant commercial space for positive use
To mediate flexible work space for art projects, start-up, small and medium sized businesses
In other words, Meanwhile Creative support Bristol’s young creatives and entrepreneurs by providing affordable and lively places to work, right in the heart of the city. They take buildings (such as old office buildings) that are no longer in use and develop them into spaces that can be rented by individuals and businesses, giving the spaces a whole new lease of life and providing people with places to pursue their dreams and ambitions.
Starting with Bridewell Space (two floors of New Bridewell Police Station), which Meanwhile Creative ran from 2012-2014, they offered private offices/studios, desks, a gym, an activity studio, art space, band rehearsal space and parking. One of their current projects is Pithay Studios. This is a modern, eight-storey office building in the heart of Bristol. Whilst the main entrances are corporate and formal, Pithay Studios has its own entrance at the rear of the property, where you can find the Phoenix cafe and arts-hub and Blackbeard bicycle shop. The space is made up of private offices/studios, desks, retail, storage, and rehearsal space and parking. You can also find the the Synergi gym and Motion dance studio here too. Those renting spaces here include photographers, designers, fashion brands, illustrators, band/dj agencies, dress makers, jewellers, personal trainers, fitness instructors, musicians, developers and event planners. The building is accessible from 6am until 11.40pm. Monthly rent for a desk is £90pcm, with private spaces costing between £180 and £800 per calendar month.
Meanwhile Creative also manage other spaces including a building on King Street, which comprises five stories of modern, functional office space, rented out as private offices and studios. In contrast, Lincoln Street Warehouse is a two-storey warehouse with parking to the front. Access is via a roller shutter, with two staircases leading to the first floor. The total square footage is around 10 000, split equally over the two levels and is suited to light industrial projects.
They also have Deben House, which is an attractive, four storey, red-brick property with large windows lining two sides. A triangular floor-plate results in a variety of shapes and sizes of rooms and light and colourful partitions subdivide the spaces. The basement features running water so might suit being used for louder or messier activities. Bathroom facilities can be found on each floor and kitchens on the ground and first floor. A lift allows for disabled access. Shared spaces start at £150 per calendar month, while private spaces range from £200-£1000. Whole floors are £2000.
The spaces offered by Meanwhile Creative fit so well with the creative, organic ethos that is so strong in Bristol. They allow artists, musicians, craftspeople and businesses to develop their work in a way that offers flexibility – something that is so important when cash is tight (and where being able to rent your space on a monthly basis can make all the difference to the success of your project).
So, if you are looking for a space to work on your creative project, why not visit the Meanwhile Creative website and then speak to one of the really helpful team members to find out what sort of space might suit you. You never know what might happen until you give it a try.