A social enterprise providing a retail space for artists and designers has opened at the Flemingate centre in Beverley, East Yorkshire, offering a high-profile platform for a community of local creatives.
A diverse range of artistic entrepreneurs have come together under one roof in a high-quality hub for unique and distinctive creative products.
The first of its kind in East Yorkshire, The Creative Lab provides cost-effective shared retail space for new and established artists and designers to display and sell their work in a fully-staffed retail environment, without the usual costly overheads incurred by small businesses.
The brainchild of Beverley-based artists Mikey Mathieson and Chris Kidd, The Creative Lab gives artists, designers and inventors the retail support and resources needed to achieve commercial exposure and success.
Mr Mathieson said: “It’s been a fantastic opening for us. The reaction from the public has been amazing and lots of people have said that this is just what Beverley needs.
“We’ve started off with 30 artists, makers and designers and our goal is to increase that to 80 within six months. We’re really excited about the future.”
His fellow Director, Mr Kidd, said: “We’ve been delighted by the positive response to our opening. We thought it would be a slow start to begin with but people have responded so positively to the artists here and also really appreciate the ethos around what we’re trying to achieve.
“Since we approached Flemingate they have been very supportive of the whole idea of bringing something that supports local businesses into this environment.
“We’re really proud and pleased with how it’s gone so far and look forward to the coming months to developing the concept and bringing many other creative local businesses on board.”
The Creative Lab’s founder members said they were delighted with the opportunity The Creative Lab offers to turn their passions into commercial success and by the enthusiastic response from the public with the opening day seeing more than 120 shoppers purchase items.
One exhibitor, local artist Greg Bromley said: “The Creative Lab is a great way to give artists their own space to exhibit and is a cost-effective way of doing things. Mikey and Chris have been really supportive and I would urge anyone looking for this sort of opportunity to get in touch.”
Hornsea-based artist and potter, Meg Burkill of NutMeg Pottery, said: “I think it’s a fabulous idea and just what Beverley needs as there are so many talented people in the East Riding. It’s really exciting and I’m so glad to be part of it.”
Another exhibitor, Beverley-based artist Chrissie Singleton of Divine Energy Art, said: “The Creative Lab bridges the gap for up-and-coming artists to be able to have gallery space and exhibit their work for a small cost. The guys are very supportive and it’s exciting to be part of something which is so good for the community.”
Products on offer range from pottery; paintings; sculptures; bags and wallets created from recycled tyre inner tubes; locally-produced chocolate; North Yorkshire honey; greeting cards; dog accessories; and much more.
Graham Tait, Flemingate centre manager, said: “There’s been a great response to the opening of Creative Lab – it’s a fantastic opportunity for fledging businesses to do business and succeed without the prohibitive costs of having their own premises.
“The addition of the Creative Lab adds a further dimension to Flemingate and it’s a great draw for shoppers and visitors to Beverley.”
Michael Wood, East Riding of Yorkshire’s Town Crier, made a guest appearance to celebrate the opening of The Creative Lab and announce his 20th anniversary as the county’s town crier in a special poem delivered in his own imitable style.
Developed and owned by Hull-based regeneration company Wykeland Group, the Flemingate development is Beverley’s largest ever regeneration scheme.
Flemingate has a host of major high street names such as Debenhams, H&M, River Island, Peacocks, Superdrug, The Entertainer and Wilko as well as the multi-brand retailer Outfit, which features fashion must-haves from the likes of Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Miss Selfridge and Burton. These are complemented by high-quality independents – fashion store Bolo, jeweller Guest and Philips and homewares retailer Baytree Interiors.
The Creative Lab can be found next to leading coffee brand Starbucks within the Armstrong House building at Flemingate.
Details of how to apply to join The Creative Lab community can be found at www.thecreativelab.space