The Studio Voltaire Capital Project

Our Ambitions

Studio Voltaire is undertaking a £2.4 million capital project to expand and redevelop our 10,500ft² site, the most ambitious transition in our 25–year history.

This timely and transformative development will:

– Provide 42% more affordable artists’ studio spaces
– Increase public space by 233%
– Establish a new dedicated Learning & Events Space, with its own garden
– Create a new public courtyard garden and café
– Safeguard and broaden the provision of studios for artists with disabilities
– Introduce two Artist’s Apartments to host visiting artists and curators onsite for the first time
– Fully renovate our buildings and make them considerably more environmentally sustainable
– Establish the first–ever permanent House of Voltaire
– Make our organisation more financially resilient

The Studio Voltaire Capital Project offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform and expand our support of artists as well as our cultural offering to local and international audiences.

The new scheme, designed by Matheson Whiteley Architects, will unlock the full potential of our site for the first time and completely transform how visitors experience our programmes. Our buildings will become more welcoming, porous and engaging.

Building a Community of Artists

The provision of artists’ studios is a fundamental aspect of the project. We have an exciting opportunity to build an essential artistic community in South London.

In just three years, London has lost 17% of studio spaces. Workspace for artists is estimated to be cut by a further 17% in the next five years (Mayor of London’s Artists’ Workspace Data Note). A sharp increase in property values and business rates, as well as changes to planning, have contributed to this problem. Artists are being priced out of the city despite one in six jobs in London being in the creative industry.

Artists urgently need secure and affordable spaces to work.

The new scheme will provide 42% more affordable studios through the building of a new mezzanine level. Studio Voltaire’s existing 515m² studio building will be completely renovated to provide a range of high quality, light–filled studios to over 75 artists.

Importantly, the Communal Studio will also provide a much–needed, lower–priced alternative to artists who do not need a traditional studio. These spaces will also allow for the provision of additional cultural workers including curators, writers and educators, further contributing to our vibrant studio culture.

The new scheme will also create two live/work spaces. Our new Artists’ Apartments will enable us to host artists working within our programmes onsite for the first time, as well as introducing new short–term residencies for international artists and curators.

A new production workshop, supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, will provide facilities for resident and visiting artists – offering studio and production facilities alongside staff expertise.

Workspace for Artists with Disabilities

The Studio Voltaire Capital Project will safeguard and broaden the provision of workspace for artists with disabilities, through our partnership with ActionSpace. 

The leading disability arts organisation will expand its current activities onsite by creating a new public–facing space and increasing their studio provision by 300%.

Cultivating Talent

We have supported over 150 artists with studios and residencies to date, including Laura Aldridge, Nairy Baghramian, Monster Chetwynd, Enrico David, Ida Ekblad, Anthea Hamilton, Dawn Mellor, Nicolas Party, Daniel Sinsel and Erika Verzutti. 

Building on Studio Voltaire’s legacy of championing emerging talent, we will launch a new Studio Award – awarding seven artists free studios for two years, a bursary and a programme of professional development and mentoring. The award will be means tested and aimed at supporting artists facing financial barriers.

A new Artists’ Kitchen & Events Space will provide an important shared social space, fostering a vibrant artistic community.

From my own experience as an artist who has had the great benefit of exhibiting at Studio Voltaire, I can vouch for the exceptional support and visionary commitment of the organisation. Without doubt, Studio Voltaire is an incredible organisation that provides a much–needed and distinctive position within UK culture.  I wholeheartedly and unreservedly support Studio Voltaire in its ambitions to develop its building and its unparalleled programmes which will greatly enhance its already acclaimed position as an art establishment of great benefit to all who encounter it.

Phyllida Barlow CBE RA

Transforming our offer to audiences

A major consideration of the scheme is how our buildings engage with audiences and our local neighbourhood.

Our newly developed buildings and improved facilities will greatly increase our visibility and reach within our local area, engaging new audiences via public events and permanent commissions onsite and within the public realm.

Studio Voltaire’s main entrance will change to a 93m² generously planted, public garden – offering a welcoming and inviting space to encourage use by neighbours, local residents and visitors, who will also benefit from a new street–facing café.

A New Community Space

The Studio Voltaire Capital Project will create our first–ever Learning & Events Space with its own garden, allowing us to expand our free and innovative participatory programmes in a dedicated space.

Our Participation Programme works to develop a closer relationship between artists, the production of work and an active, engaged audience through a lively programme of workshops, residencies, events and commissions. We will be able to offer more free activities to local schools, community groups and individuals who do not have a space of their own, or who do not ordinarily take part in arts activities.

Studio Voltaire is located in an area with very limited cultural provision and despite recent improvements, Lambeth is the 8th most deprived borough in London. This project will dramatically increase Studio Voltaire’s role within our local community and significantly increase the number of participants who are able to take part in these programmes, greatly supporting community cohesion and lifelong learning.

This new space will also support an extended public programme of artist’s talks, panel discussions, screenings and performance, significantly enriching the depth of engagement amongst new and existing audiences.

The Gallery

An important aim of the scheme has been to preserve the much–loved character of Studio Voltaire’s gallery. Our distinctive space, a Victorian former chapel, will benefit from the introduction of heating as well as a bespoke lighting system. For the first time, we will be able to offer a year–round programme of exhibitions, commissions and performance.

Studio Voltaire has an outstanding track record of supporting artists at a pivotal stage in their careers through our ambitious and experimental programme of exhibitions and commissions.

Many participating artists have gone on to be awarded or nominated for prizes including Turner Prize, Carnegie Prize, Wolfgang Hahn Prize and MacArthur Genius Fellowship, as well as participating in major international arts festivals including Venice Biennale, Skulptur Projekte Munster, Whitney Biennial and documenta.

Studio Voltaire commissions have also gone on to be presented at, and collected by, major institutions including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, British Museum, Museum Ludwig, Moderna Museet and Migros Museum.

The Studio Voltaire Capital Project will further our scope for presenting ambitious and experimental new work by international artists for the very first time in the UK, as well as providing a platform for emerging and under–represented practices.

Working with Studio Voltaire remains one of the deepest joys of my artistic career. It is a unique organisation, in that its artistic voice is multi–layered, multi–vocal and ecstatic. The passion, commitment, hard work and trust of the team allowed me to take risks, push myself and my project , and to engage audiences that I have not had the ability to reach before.

Sharon Hayes

How you can support our future

The Studio Voltaire Capital Project will cost £2.4 million. Studio Voltaire must raise the entire cost. 

Over £2 million of funding has been secured via public funding, trusts and foundations, and many generous private donors.

We must secure the remaining £400,000 for the project from individual donations, trusts and foundations, sponsorship and other fundraising activities.

This major transformation is a hugely important opportunity for Studio Voltaire, our artists, audiences, partners and community at large. Studio Voltaire is a registered charity and relies on the extraordinary commitment of our supporters to complete this vital project.

All levels of generosity are greatly appreciated, please give what you can.

If you would like to become a Building Patron and a key supporter of Studio Voltaire’s future, please contact Niamh Conneely or 0207 622 1294. We would be delighted to discuss how you can help us.

Public Funders

The Mayor of London’s Strategic Investment Fund
Arts Council England
Lambeth Council

Trusts and Foundations

The Wolfson Foundation
Garfield Weston Foundation
Cockayne – The London Community Foundation
The Art Fund
Henry Moore Foundation
The Hartfield Foundation
Span Trust

Studio Voltaire elsewhere

Our Clapham is closed to the public for twelve months whilst we complete the project. During this time, a one-off, year–long programme of offsite commissions will be presented. Read more…

Studio Voltaire will reopen in Autumn 2020.

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