In every major city, you will find an art scene of some sort. Whether thriving or emerging, it is impossible to separate art from hubs of humanity. In those cities where art has been long established, non-profit art spaces are an increasing phenomenon. Some date back decades, while others are fresh and new, perhaps even edgy. London is a global cultural hub and home to many, many venerable institutions housing some of the finest collections of art in the world. But if you know where to look, you will find artist-run, offbeat, collaborative, unique nonprofits dedicated to supporting the work of established and emerging artists. Here are some of the best nonprofit spaces in London.
1. Guest Projects
Artist Yinka Shonibare offers residency and project space to artists on the first floor of his London warehouse. The opportunity is open to any discipline from performance to visual arts and beyond. Residencies are free of charge and last for one month. They are designed to give artists a space in which to develop their work. In addition to this, Shonibare also runs Artists Dining Room which is described as a supper club. Guest chefs and hosts lead meals during which the work of a chosen artist is discussed.
This nonprofit was created in the late nineties by two artists, Ruth Catlow and Mark Garrett. Furtherfield draws inspiration from the possibilities of the internet as a means of connecting a broad community. This organization coined the term DIWO which stands for Doing It With Others, as opposed to the popular DIY concept. Collaboration and technology are king here. Furtherfield provides both physical and online spaces for those wishing to get involved in creation.
3. Turf Projects
This 100% artist-run nonprofit was established in 2013 to allow space for emerging and established artists to exhibit, create, and collaborate. Turf is dedicated to supporting artist development. The nonprofit includes exhibition space, affordable studio space, workshops, event space and more. Turf Projects is located in Croyden, South London.
This nonprofit opened in 2004. The artist-run space offers workshops, talks, exhibition opportunities, residencies, as well as curated performances and more. There is a focus on film at no.w.here as well as a decidedly political leaning. Emphasis on the creation of the contemporary image is also a driving factor. no.w.here also houses a publishing company as well as a peripheral shop.
5. Peckham Platform
Located in—you guessed it—Peckham Square, this nonprofit achieved independent status in 2014. Peckham Platform is committed to the creation of “meaningful and accessible social arts practice for Peckham and beyond.” The nonprofit seeks to enhance civic pride while offering a place where emerging and established artists can exhibit their work.
6. Assembly Point
Another relatively new space, and also in Peckham Square, Assembly Point opened its doors in the summer of 2015. This collaboratively run nonprofit incorporates studio space, gallery space, publishing, performances, workshops and events. Assembly Point tends to favor emerging artists.
7. Blackhorse Workshop
As the name suggests, this is not an art gallery. Blackhorse Workshop deviates from others on this list in that it is truly a workspace. Blackhorse provides the space—and the tools—for artists, designers, and members of the public to work on projects that might otherwise be out of reach. Often experts are on hand to guide participants through any number of skills and crafts from fine arts to technological pursuits.
8. Drawing Room
This is, quite simply, the only nonprofit, public gallery in the UK or Europe dedicated to contemporary drawing. Since 2002, Drawing Room has exhibited countless emerging, established, and historical artists within the walls of its gallery. Drawing Room also launches exhibition tours, bringing the work of their artists to locations around the UK and the world.
9. Raven Row
In addition to providing gallery space where the work of new, established, and historical artists are on display, Raven Row also maintains apartments for visiting artists and curators as well as being the home to publisher Four Corner Books. Raven Row is committed to remaining fluid in its values, not succumbing to artistic dogma with regards to how art is and should be valued. The organization seeks to reach not just specialized audiences, but the broader public as well.
10. Gilbert & George
This last one is a bit of a tease, but is something to keep an eye on. Gilbert and George, the inimitable duo behind some of the centuries’ best known contemporary and performance art pieces, have announced their intention to open a nonprofit art space in East London. It is the artists’ wish to give back to the community that has so embraced them throughout their long and important careers. Their plan is as yet unrealized, but given the status of this artistic team, it is worth paying attention to the possibilities.