Bristol

Artists move into former working men's club in St Pauls, Bristol

CHAMP collective Image copyright CHAMP
Image caption Three artist collectives, including CHAMP, are based at the Brunswick Club

A group of artists evicted from their former home have found a new base.

Bristol's Residence group have been without a workshop or performance space since they left the Milk Bar in 2015 when the council put it up for rent.

Along with two other art collectives, they've moved into the Grade-II listed Brunswick Club, a former working men's club in St Pauls.

James Stenhouse, from Residence, said: "It's low rent, a huge space and exciting to be with other collectives."

Image copyright Richard Broomhall
Image caption People queued to see artists and performers at the launch of the Brunswick Club
Image copyright James Stenhouse
Image caption Louisa Fairclough, from BEEF, and James Stenhouse, from Residence, said the "huge" space is "inspiring"

Artist filmmaker Louisa Fairclough, from Bristol Experimental and Expanded Film (BEEF), said the former working men's club was an "incredible space" with billiard rooms, skittle alleys and a dance hall.

She said BEEF realised it could not take on the building alone and that "it would be great to bring together several collectives in order to inhabit the entire building - a collective of collectives."

The three artist groups - made up of about 40 people aged from 20 to 70 - have been given a nine-month lease and hope it will be extended.

Image copyright Residence
Image caption The former club is made up of two interlinking buildings with four floors and covers 12,000 square feet

Landlord and investor Michael Bertelsen said: "In this day and age, with all the government cuts to the arts, it's good to use under-performing assets, like this listed building, for altruistic purposes in the relative short term - because empty buildings do fall into disrepair and it also secures them.

"It's a symbiotic relationship, having somebody occupy them works well for the landlord and the occupier."

Phil Gibby, from Arts Council England, said they were "very supportive of this collective approach to working together".

The Brunswick working men's club closed in June last year due to falling membership.

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