A CRIPPLING increase in business rates has been blamed for the closure of Studley’s magnificent Artists Workhouse.
Opened in 2015 it had become a haven of culture and the arts and was the beating heart of Studley’s popular Arts Trail.
Not only that but it had the honour of opening the entire Warwickshire Open Studios event shortly after becoming established.
The concept was simple – to bring artists, who often work in isolation, together to share ideas, hold exhibitions and create a fervent and inspirational atmosphere.
And it worked, not least when the gallery held a fundraising, painted postcard auction – featuring a roomful of mini-masterpieces – to raise money for the Studley on the Map project.
“It’s the end of a dream,” said Dawn Harris, the talented artist whose vision had seen the Workhouse – set in a former needle factory – come to life.
“In 2017 the property was revalued and from that moment on I’ve been struggling to keep things going.”
The number of studios was increased to 16 but Dawn found herself fighting a losing battle.
The Artists Workhouse is scheduled to close on November 30, but the reaction to its demise has been heartwarming.
“It’s taken me aback. When you are in the midst of it all you don’t realise how many people it has touched,” said Dawn.
County Councillor Clive Rickhards (Lib Dem, Studley) a supporter of the Artists Workhouse since it opened, said the closure was symptomatic of the struggle facing the arts.
“It’s awful news; there is no favouritism in the rates system for cultural activities and this reminds us that the arts in this country are under attack.”
Dawn added: “I’d like to thank the artists community for all of their support, Stratford District Council, Justin Kerridge and Coun Clive Rickhards and to everyone who has taken part in, or attended any of our events.”
For the future, Artists Workhouse hopes to continue with projects and exhibitions at different locations.