Category Archives: News

Our Stunning Gallery Space Has Returned

Our stunning Gallery Space is back and ready for you to exhibit your work. The space is extremely flexible, with white walls, a parquet floor, and a high glass ceiling, flooding the space with natural light. Our gallery is on the first floor of The Island, just off the creative and buzzing Nelson Street, in the City Centre. Further details, including hire fees, floor maps and T&C are available here, however please do get in touch with any questions you may have. 

We’re keeping our visitors and artists safe with a one-way system, mandatory masks (for those that can) and limited numbers for social distancing. 

If you’re interested in exhibiting in our beautiful Gallery, please get in touch with

The Dance Studio Is Back

We are overjoyed to be reopening the Dance Studio for classes after a period of closure, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re thrilled to, once again, host a variety of classes from some of the finest teachers and performers in our city.

Rest assured, your safety remains our priority. We have put in place a number of guidelines to make sure you can get back to enjoying our brilliant space:

  • There will be a maximum of 10 people taking part in classes, + one teacher.
  • 2m social distancing is in place for all classes.
  • There will be at least an hour break between each class for cleaning and ensuring no crossover between classes.
  • Everyone will need to arrive and leave in suitable clothing for the class. 
  • Booking and paying will take place before the class (no drop-ins)
  • We have extra sanitising and cleaning facilities throughout the building, including hand sanitiser points.
  • And of course, if you show any symptoms, for your safety and for others, please cancel your booking and do not enter the building. 

 From Monday, you will be able to return to classes such as the newly rebranded Free to Be dance classes and Intermediate Ballet (and lots more) safely and successfully. All classes are listed here. Welcome back, dancers! 

How Can I Help? A residency with a difference from Artspace Lifespace, The Island and The Vestibules

How Can I Help?


When resources are made available in the creative sector, how, under what conditions and in whose interest are they awarded. Using this as our starting point we are delighted to release a new community sustainability project that invites an individual or group to act as a custodian of our electric cargo bike for a six-month term.

If you had an electric cargo bike what would you do with it?

An electric cargo bike has the capacity to travel through a city with agility, carrying light freight with a comparatively lower environmental impact than petrol-fuelled vehicles. They are gaining popularity in cities where they are commonly seen delivering goods and services to the community. 

We are inviting applications from individuals and informal groups for a project that clearly identifies how a cargo bike can help support them becoming more sustainable and grow their service. You can be a maker, producer, organiser, facilitator or communicator. You can be working in art, health, community or services. We are particularly interested in ideas at infancy stage. We want to see this resource support a project in development so if you are established and financed this one is not for you. We hope that the use of this bike will enable an idea to expand into a bigger project, creative business or service but we also want to hold the space and possibility that an idea just may not work in reality. We understand that recourse to financial support when an idea is experimental is difficult and pushing an idea into a viable fundable package can limit potential. In response to this, we are offering something that we hope sits somewhere in the middle, that will enable and inform with less prescription about what makes an outcome successful. 


We would like your project to have a clear purpose and to see you have identified communities/users it will impact.  

We would like to talk with you at four points during your residency, to hear what is happening and how you are finding it. We will not ask you for specific reporting but we would like to understand how the residency is working or not working so we can think about future versions of this programme and document your process. The successful candidate will also be asked to register for: and maintain a log of their usage. 

The bike is a vehicle for road use, therefore we will need to go through a process at the start of your residency to make sure you will be safe whilst using it. We will provide insurance against theft or damage but you will be responsible for the correct use and maintenance of the bike. We will ask you to take out rider insurance against injury in the case of an accident. 

In the application we ask for information about you and your work, this can be information about projects you have worked on, a place you have worked or volunteered and any other circumstance where you have developed ideas into reality. 

Deadline for applications 31/07/2020 5pm

E Cargo bike residency application form

This project is supported by Artspace Lifespace and the Travel West grant initiative.


Over the past three months the COVID19 pandemic has presented new challenges to everybody. The many challenges for Artspace Lifespace, as an organisation focussed on providing spaces, support, and logistics, have been varied and multi-faceted. 

We are pleased to say that our team of staff and volunteers are well, and we are beginning to re-open some of our spaces. Our artist studios reopened on 22nd June to studio holders who returned their risk assessments. We will reopen our dance and circus studios to members for solo rehearsals and practice in bubbles of up to three only.

This is an update from the Board of Trustees on the activities that have happened in order to support the staff, volunteers, and artists in our community.


Throughout this time, we’ve virtually met as a board almost every week to make decisions with these values in mind:

  • The health and safety of our team, volunteers, tenants, and the public
  • The commitment to keep our team employed and financially supported
  • The ability for Artspace Lifespace to survive the crisis, and continue supporting the artist community into the future
  • Adapting and evolving to respond to the new needs of artists to create work, and to the greater community that we serve


It is through the tenacity of our staff, support of our community, and shared love of the arts that we have been able to meet the challenges of the past three months. 

We hope that the update in the following pages helps you to understand how the past few months unfolded for Artspace Lifespace, and how we have collectively made decisions and presented solutions. We now look forward to the months ahead and the new creations, productions, and collaborations they will bring. Your continued support during this process of learning is very much appreciated.


Ryan, Wim, Doug, Kara, Andrew and Anthony

Board of Trustees

Crisis Planning and Recovery 

On 18 March 2020, we decided to cancel public events until further notice at all our venues. Two days later the government announced the nationwide lockdown.

Our Board of Trustees, who are all volunteers, normally meet four to eight times a year – but when the crisis hit, it was important to engage in weekly emergency planning meetings. We commenced a disaster recovery plan based on minimising our outgoings and applying for grants.

We examined some worst-case scenarios. If our grants were disqualified, we expected we would need to start making redundancies without the support, and returning tenants deposits in July. 

However, thanks to the grant support received in April, we are now hopeful that Artspace Lifespace and the Island will ride out the crisis. 

As we look to the future, we know many other arts organisations will struggle. This means we must continue to advocate for support to the arts sector in Bristol and across the UK.   

Financial Sustainability of Artspace Lifespace

The financial support we received during the last three months includes:

  • Bristol City Council Business Rates Support
  • Arts Council England Grant
  • Donations of membership fee from space users
  • Continuing rent payments from tenants during closure
  • Furlough of PAYE members of staff
  • Waiver of rent at Ashton Court Mansion from Bristol City Council

Our planning saw us look at the possibility of zero income over lockdown and predict the possible cessation of the business, but thanks to the above grants & donations and the continued support of tenants, our financial position is stable and our reserves have not been eroded.

Our work towards securing a more long-term lease of the building continues but has suffered some further delays under the current circumstances. As part of the work towards this we are facing up to the financial challenges of taking on more responsibility for the repairs and maintenance of the building, as well as some of the underlying issues that have been there since it was first occupied. This was going to be a challenge before, but now brings into sharp focus the decisions we have to make over the management of our reserves.

As a responsible charity we hold reserves to weather the risks we foresee but no one could have predicted this year. With the future still very unknown we are lucky to be able to proceed with some financial backup, and we hope to be able to put this to use in supporting the arts sector in Bristol as certainty returns.

As part of the measures announced by government departments, all companies and charities were given the option of extensions to filing their annual accounts. We had this under consideration over the period of lockdown and were in contact with our independent examiners in order to plan for our annual submissions which normally fall at the end of June and July. As time went on we made the decision to apply for the extensions due to the pressures this work would have added at this time. We will work to resolve the delayed publication of accounts as soon as is practical.

Health and Safety

  • Assessment of risk across all our venues
  • Commissioned an artist to create safety posters for our venues
  • Providing Health and Safety Advice and support to studio holders
  • Following consultation with our tenants and assessment of risk, we made some adjustments in our venues including replacing taps and keypads on doors and installation of hand sanitiser at points across the venue. 

Supporting Staff / Team

  • Continued to contract self-employed workers
  • Provided support to our zero-hours contract staff who were unable to work
  • We updated our sick leave policy to support self-employed and zero-hours contract staff acknowledging some of the new risks involved
  • Where PAYE staff have been furloughed we have agreed new payscales for when they return to work, that were scheduled to happen at the beginning of April and the new financial year.
  • These payscales follow the NJC local government pay scales, which are extensively used in the voluntary sector. They are a result of negotiations between trade unions (Unite, Unison and GMB) and Local Government Association. In June 2020 the Board approved that where the NJC scale is lower than the Real National living wage we would pay the higher of the two.  We also monitor other local organisations to ensure our pay rates are comparable for similar roles.
  • At Artspace Lifespace, no member of staff earns more than double that of the lowest member of staff. Since 2017, we have been working towards decreasing the gap in pay between the lowest and the highest paid members of staff.  

Support for Artists and the Community

  • Providing more marketing support to studio holders
  • Provided a one-month online art class from Crafting Communities tutored by Rose Popay
  • Finalising our new Artspace Lifespace website for July. This will enable us to offer better digital support to our artists
  • Offered rent waivers for shielding and vulnerable tenants who are unable to return to the Island
  • Donated art materials from the Crafting Communities class to Knowle Park School Food Bank. 
  • We are working on alternatives to support The Venue
  • Continued to pay our rent for the Island and will continue negotiating for a long lease of the space, to offer better long term security for our tenants.
  • We are finalising the Futur Ville Report, and have collected thoughts from our community by creating The New Normal Survey. We had 52 responses which will be included in our Futur Ville report which will be published in August. 
  • Our Inclusion Officer Ngaio’s contract came to an end in April. Ngaio is now focussing on her musical career and her song Blackbird helped inspired the #BeyondTheHashtag campaign which showed support for Black Lives Matter campaigns by people who could not attend physical protests. Our team members are supporting the #BeyondTheHashtag campaign.
  • One of the last events in Bristol on Saturday 7th March before Lockdown was International Women’s Day at City Hall and The Vestibules. To mark International Women’s Day 2020 we commissioned CATO Press to create an image dedicated to the women and children who helped ensure the success of one of the most important strikes in American history. The Vestibules and Rosanna Morris released limited edition prints of our Bread and Roses collective relief print. All profits from the print are being donated to The Smallwood Trust which provide grants to organisations and individuals and work with selected partners to help women overcome financial adversity and to improve their social and emotional well-being.

Reopening Spaces

On Monday 22nd June, we reopened the artist studios at the Island. 

We will continue to monitor safety closely and hope to reopen our circus and dance training spaces soon. 

We will work with tenants and exhibitors to reopen our gallery spaces safely and in a socially-distant manner. We will also make use of technology to reach audiences who don’t feel comfortable going out. This also enables us to be more accessible for audiences who cannot access the first floor gallery.  

We are now looking at how we can support artists with more digital facilities, as well as space and physical ones. This will be something that can support artists well into the future. Later this year, we will work with our tenants to provide a Digital Doors Open Studios event to showcase their work.

We’ll meet again

Due to the Covid-19 Crisis, The Island is now temporarily closed until further notice. We hope to reopen our artist studios as soon as possible but in order to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, studio-holders, visitors and the wider public all events are cancelled and access to the studios restricted until further notice to discourage unnecessary travel. We are operating with a small core staff.  Any urgent enquiries should be sent to



Financial support for artists

If you are an artist check out Arts Council England Financial support for artists, creative practitioners and freelancers

Good news for a.n members as they are bringing forward the application for the next round of a-n Artist Bursaries, which for this round will focus on giving artists time and space to continue to make work. a.n also has useful info and resources

Financial support for businesses and the self employed

Info on the support the government is putting in place for businesses and the self-employed.

Wellbeing support

Mind has a comprehensive list of resources to help you with your wellbeing.

Try a meditation to help with Covid-19 stress.

Check out this comprehensive list of upcoming livestreams from Katherine Jewkes.

Paint the picture, learn the language, write the poem, pick up the instrument, sing a new song, get fit, learn to cook, sit and chill, connect with your neighbours, facetime your family.


Stay well, stay safe, we’ll miss you

The Island and Artspace Lifespace team  

You can follow our posts on @artspaceuk on twitter / facebook and instragram and @theislandbristol on facebook and instagram


COVID 19 – Artspace Lifespace Venue Events Cancelled


In order to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, tenants, members and visitors, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel public events until further notice at all our Artspace Lifespace venues.

We are cancelling public events at Ashton Court Mansion, Lockdown Venue at The Island, SPACE Gallery and The Vestibules with immediate effect until the end of April or as advised when government guidance is issued. We are sorry we are unable to offer you any guarantees as to when we may be able to open publicly again but we will issue updates every two weeks on our website and you can sign up to our monthly newsletter here: 

The Framing Shop, Dance Studio and Circus Studio at the Island will also be closed. Our artist studios will remain open. If you have booked individual rehearsal or workshop space, please liaise with the relevant venue manager and this will be risk assessed on a case by case basis. 

Our insurance does not cover us voluntarily closing, so if you can afford to do so, we would appreciate if you do request your booking is rescheduled rather than refunded.  We know many of you will have your own financial concerns at this time, so our normal amendment charges will not apply for any rescheduled bookings made between now and May. Please contact and if you wish to reschedule a booking or to request a cancellation. Cancellation requests for bookings from June and beyond currently apply. 

If you love what we do, have the financial capacity to do, please also consider donating to Artspace Lifespace, a predominantly self-funded organisation

Stay safe, stay well, we will miss you.

Love from the Artspace Lifespace team including The Island, SPACE, The Vestibules and the Arts Mansion. 

The Island / Artspace Lifespace Covid-19 Guidance

Dear Island / Artspace Lifespace Community, 

As the coronavirus (Covid-19) situation evolves, Artspace Lifespace has been closely monitoring developments locally and globally. We are committed to keeping our employees, our artists and our audiences safe. At this time, all of our spaces and offices remain open and we have no plans to close. All events will proceed as planned. 

We’re following official guidance from local government in order to support the health and wellbeing of our community. Should there be any changes to the current status, we will take account of any recommendations from the relevant authorities, and implement all appropriate instructions accordingly. We ask that you join us in helping keep our spaces as prepared as possible. 


Sneeze / Cough like a Vampire – Cough or Sneeze into your elbow.
Dispose of used tissues – & wash your hands, germs can filter through tissues
Wash your hands frequently – Wash thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser gel
Disinfect your PC keyboard and mobile phone
Avoid touching your face – Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Be conscious of the space you are using – if renting a studio for your own classes and/or rehearsals, encourage a clean transition as the next group enters the room.
Avoid close contact with people who are unwell – And avoid being around others if you are unwell.
Get advice if you are concerned or show symptoms – and alert 

We encourage staff, artists, performers and patrons to stay home if they present symptoms. We have a number of people using the building who have health issues. Taking precautions not only protects yourself but respects the concerns and wellbeing of others. 

The single most important way to help us stay safe from COVID-19 is this one: Wash your hands! Informational signs are displayed in every toilet with information on best practices to promote health and prevent the spread of infection. 

As we know in arts, it takes a village. We truly need your attention and help to stay as prepared as possible. 

Thank you for your continued cooperation and support! 

All of us at Artspace Lifespace / The Island. 

Artspace Lifespace and The Invisible Circus – one of only 12 applicants awarded Imagination funding in 2020-22

‘Imagination’ is one of the three funds available through Bristol City Council’s 2018 to 2022 Cultural Investment Programme: Artspace Lifespace and The Invisible Circus were one of only twelve applications to win funding from the highly competitive investment programme which received more than 50 applications.

“The imagination funding is hugely helpful to us as small mainly self-funded arts organisations. We joined forces with our sister organisation The Invisible Circus to share resources across both of our organisations. The funding we receive has enabled us to hire a part-time Development Officer and Inclusion Officer both of which enables us to increase our organisation’s resilience as well as develop our arts offer. Past imagination funding enabled us to apply for further funding which allowed us to run  our free drop-in class through SPACE “Crafting communities” which attendees said helped lift them, keep them going through difficult times and stave off depression as well as help them express themselves in creative ways. Over the past two years, our Inclusion Team developed the Halt Harassment campaign with learning and sharing sessions at The Loco Klub and we look forward to sharing this learning more widely through outreach activities in 2020-2022” said Kathryn Chiswell Jones, Company Manager at Artspace Lifespace.

Sarah Pugh, Company Manager at The Invisible Circus and The Loco Klub, said, “Developing our spaces with people at the heart of them is hugely important to us and inclusion is a huge part of that.  Our focus on creating an inclusive space is helping us provide “a place where people from the LGBTQ+ community could come together and dance the night away” (quote from Erektek, Bristol 247). We’re delighted that our drive to create an inclusive project is bearing fruit, and we are also committed to improving accessibility in our venues. Last year we received the bronze Attitude is Everything award at The Loco Klub and are working on achieving a silver rating in 2020-22. We aim to improve our facilities and residency offering to emerging artists at our Circus HQ Unit 15 and The Loco Klub through our Launchpad programme. which our Development Officer, supported by the Imagination Fund, will be helping us expand over the next two years. We are also focusing on creating more resilience and a long term funding strategy for Invisible Youth, a strand of The Invisible Circus dedicated to social circus, predominantly at Felix Road Playground in Easton.”

BBC Bristol recently questioned whether Bristol City Council should be funding the arts when health, social care and SEND provision are all under pressure. The arts and heritage have significant potential to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. The effect Loneliness has on your health is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2015) and the positive impact of the arts to counter loneliness and provide mental care is being recognised. A new £4.5m Govt scheme is prescribing arts activities instead of anti-depressants and a national study of Aesop found that two thirds of GPs believe engagement with the arts can make a significant contribution towards preventing ill health. Creative Health: The Arts for Health & Wellbeing report found that Arts on prescription projects resulted in a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and a 27% drop in hospital emissions. Music Therapy reduces agitation and the need for medication in 67% of people with dementia. 

Cuts are being made to the arts because of the need to focus scarce municipal resources on the rising demand for social care. Neighbouring Bath lost the B&NES Council Arts Development service one year ago. We are lucky that Bristol City Council still recognises the value of the arts and delighted to have been selected as one of the twelve organisations they have been able to support through imagination funding. The arts are not just ‘nice to have’ services. Whilst the government is promoting arts on prescription, artists and small arts organisations don’t have the backing of big phama wages to pay their rent and food bills. Our local councils should be supported by central government in helping even more arts organisations get the funding they need to survive to provide arts and culture, with or without prescription.  

The Island 2020 Residency Offering

The Island is the longest running project of Artspace Lifespace. We offer artist residency opportunities to develop specific or open-ended projects and to test works in progress. 

For 2020 we have 9 residency opportunities across 3 rooms in The Island.

  • 3 residencies in the Dance Space
  • 3 residencies in the Gallery Space
  • 3 residencies in the Circus Training Space

Residencies will be scheduled throughout the year and are subject to room availability. This opportunity is open to artists working across art forms from Bristol and beyond. 

What we offer:

  • Access to up to 20 hours of space in kind support (free)
  • A letter of support for funding applications or for your work in general
  • Your work can be featured on our website
  • Ongoing artists support from our Management Team

What we require:

  • Our Artspace Lifespace logo and website on any publicity, promotion material, PR, images or video work at the end of the project.
  • A letter of support for Artspace Lifespace and your experience of working with us
  • Audience and Participation Data collection

Plus one or more of the below:

  • A final piece showing (scratch event)
  • A talk or Q&A open to other artists
  • Mentoring a young artist (time)

Download the  Residency Application Pack.