The developer behind the upcoming Victoria Gate retail scheme has unveiled former retail unit, 130 Vicar Lane, as a temporary new cultural space managed by Leeds-based visual arts charity organisation, East Street Arts.
Hammerson has supported East Street Arts in transforming the previously disused space into a hub celebrating local arts and culture over the past few months.
A joint enterprise project, the initiative also saw a collaboration with Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM) and Leeds College of Building, with SRM providing the building materials and students at Leeds College of Building undertaking some of the refurbishment works as part of their degree course. Leeds City Council also contributed by wavering the charity business rates to East Street Arts.
The scheme offers a range of workshops and a project space to provide an insight into the creative industries and training opportunities targeted at 18-30 year olds. The initiative encourages those looking to gain industry experience a facility to get creative, experiment and exhibit work.
East Street Arts offered the unit to local artists to pitch for exhibition space and then selected local artists including; Leeds Print Workshop, a community-led open access print workshop, and Goat Collective, who created the impressive mural on the façade of the unit.
The exhibition is now open to the public, who will have access and be able to enjoy the space for the first time since the unit became empty.
130 Vicar Lane will seek to build connections with other arts organisations in Leeds – contributing to skill-sharing initiatives across the city. Hammerson will also use the space to deliver employment and training programmes for retail opportunities at Victoria Gate.
James Rogers, community executive at Victoria Gate, said: “It is great we have been able to team up with East Street Arts to refurbish the unit and put it to use in a cultural capacity in order to keep the area active. 130 Vicar Lane will provide a valuable hub for arts and training opportunities, which has only been made possible through our collaborations with those involved in the scheme.”
Nicola Greenan, East Street Arts external relations Director, said: “To be a thriving cultural city for its citizens and its visitors, Leeds city centre must diversity its offer – creating space for artists on our high street is part of the make-up of a balanced and alternative metropolis. Working with Hammerson has enabled East Street Arts to bring 130 Vicar Lane to life, and provide a much needed space for creative practitioners within the heart of the city.”