Phoenix Art Space

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Phoenix Art Space is a pioneering space of community engagement.

Our commitment to our community is genuine and active – our ears and our doors are open to individuals, groups and organisations in our community who may have not been involved in the arts before.

We are always looking for new and innovative arts-based community ideas and projects and partnerships.

Engaging and forming these partnerships – with local residents and community organisations – is a key part of our current and future activities.

We aim to challenge preconceptions that people may have of art spaces and break down barriers so that everyone feels able to access our programmes.


Creative sessions for people aged 50yrs+

At the beginning of 2023 we began offering creative sessions for people aged 50yrs+ who live in the Phoenix Estate, Tarner and Hanover & Elm Grove areas. These free, drop-in sessions provide older residents with creative and social opportunities as a way of combating isolation and enhancing well-being. Held at the Phoenix Community Centre on a monthly basis they are led by Phoenix Art Space artists and include activities such as watercolour, basket making and pottery.

This project is part of an ongoing partnership between Phoenix Art Space and Phoenix Food Shop and is supported by the Brighton & Hove City Council Communities Fund: Collaboration.


Family Art Packs and Workshops

Since the pandemic our relationship with residents living on the Phoenix Estate has grown stronger. Our family art packs, boxes containing materials and ideas for making, that were initiated during lockdown, have been so well received we are continuing to produce them on a regular basis. We now work closely with the Phoenix Food Shop, an affordable food project located in the Phoenix Community Centre, to distribute the art packs to local families. Funding from the Sussex Community Foundation helped us to develop this initiative and also run a consultation session to find out how we can continue to address the needs of local residents through our family workshops. Since then we have been running regular family workshops in the community centre during the school holidays.


Community Engagement Programme 2021-2022

In autumn 2021 Phoenix Art Space was awarded a grant from the Postcode Society Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. This funding supported the Community Takeover exhibition in September 2021, allowed us to shape a year-long programme of engagement activity alongside our exhibition, forge new partnerships, reach new groups and continue with our family workshops and art packs. Highlights include a group of young people from the Extra Time Project at the Russell Martin Foundation attending a series of creative workshops with Leap Then Look, 80 parents/carers and children attending our bug hotel making workshop as part of the Undercurrents exhibition, and residents from the Phoenix Estate taking up free places on our adult courses. Our community engagement programme will continue to be delivered by working closely with our neighbours and local partners.


The Art Studio

The Art Studio is a creative programme that provides a weekly meeting space for people on probation. It was developed in collaboration with the Probation Service, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT) and Phoenix Art Space in 2021. The programme is led by artists Daniel Locke and Jenny Staff, and forensic psychologist Abby Fenton. It aims to improve mental health and reduce reoffending by providing participants with opportunities for social connection, creative expression, and a sense of belonging within the arts community. Each year members of the Art Studio present an exhibition of their work at Phoenix Art Space.


Photography workshops with local young people

At the end of 2020 a group of young people who live in our local area worked with artist facilitator Lindsey Smith to create their own photography in response to the October Photo Fringe: Collectives Hub exhibition. The group began their workshops at Phoenix Art Space and then moved online as restrictions changed. Together with Lindsey they explored experimental approaches to photographic image making including working with 35mm slides, lightboxes, collage, projections, studio set-ups, walking photoshoots and photo sculptures.

Their work was displayed on a poster board on the north side of our building in January 2021 for passers-by to enjoy. Thank you to the Phoenix Community Association and Hyde Group for their support.


Up My Street film

Watch our short film about the Up My Street community engagement project and how it was conceived pre-COVID and then reshaped during the pandemic.

In winter 2019 Phoenix Art Space and Phoenix Community Association launched a year long partnership project called Up My Street. Our goal was to find a way of working together to enable positive change for the people who live on the Phoenix Estate and surrounding area. Due to the COVID pandemic our original plans became impossible to deliver, so we went back to the drawing board and came up with new initiatives to address the changing needs of local residents. This film tells the story of the Up My Street community engagement project and how it was conceived pre-COVID and then reshaped during the pandemic. Thanks to the Hyde Group for funding the project, Rosie Powell for making the film and Sarah McCarthy and Amy Lou Tilley from the Phoenix Community Association.


New England Bridge Project

In 2020 Phoenix Art Space commissioned artist Christina Ure to produce a community mural on one of the walls surrounding New England Bridge, a listed railway bridge between Seven Dials and Preston Circus. Over the years this area has been neglected and covered with graffiti, but through our partnership with Network Rail and members of the local community, and with funding from City Clean we were able to have a huge impact on the appearance of this busy area.

Christina ran a series of workshops in early 2020 with local residents from St Luke’s Church Prestonville and Friends of Brighton Greenway to come up with design ideas for the mural. The final design is based on native wildflowers and connects to the theme of nature suggested by many local residents. In late 2020 members of the community were able to take part in a number of participation days during which they had a chance to contribute to the painting of the mural. Christina then completed the work between lockdowns and challenging weather conditions and the resulting mural is a truly collaborative and well-loved piece of public art.


Free materials, courses and activities

Working for families during COVID-19 – free family art packs and activities.


When our building temporarily closed at the end of March 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis we devised new ways of bringing what we do to our local community at home.


Our Family Fun team, who usually run monthly creative workshops for families with children aged 5–14yrs, designed and assembled free art packs filled with everything a family needs to take part in fun creative activities at home.


Phoenix Community Association and Pankhurst Community Association distributed these packs to families via local food hubs.

Our Family Fun team also put together a series of free online activities based around low cost, everyday materials that are easily found in the home.


2 METRE Conversations

A film project capturing the experiences of people living in Brighton and Hove during the Covid-19

We are working in collaboration with the Centre for Arts and Wellbeing at the University of Brighton and Brighton and Hove City Council to commission artist Katy Beinart and film makers Lily Murray and John Edwards to capture ‘2m Conversations’ with the residents of Brighton and Hove, about their experience of living through Covid-19 and the impact on their lives.

The stories will give the flavour of how communities are coping. Anything from a chat about lockdown to how to access essential items, to closed schools and how difficult knowing our loved ones could be isolated to no gatherings, tape on pavements to the weekly NHS clap.

To achieve this, we are working directly with our existing networks, the Community Engagement officers from the Council, and other partners, to conduct and film socially distanced conversations, on door-steps, on benches, in the street and in parks. The outcome will be shown digitally online and eventually in exhibitions and screenings.

Watch all of these conversations on our YouTube channel here.


Street Art Project & Community Takeover

Our ongoing relationship with local residents who live on the nearby Phoenix Estate led to the development of a series of projects to improve the local area.


In Spring 2019 our inaugural Street Art Project involved a group of young people who live on the estate and youth worker / street artist Tom Hines. Through a series of workshops at Phoenix Art Space the group designed an artwork that they felt represented them and expressed a collective identity.

With Tom, they came up with the symbol of the Phoenix bird. They learnt valuable skills around designing and planning large-scale public artworks, and also took part in painting the final piece on the back of the Phoenix building. The artwork has given the young people ownership over the area, and sends a proud and positive message to passers-by about the people who live here.


From September–October 2019, Phoenix Art Space hosted its inaugural Community Takeover, an exhibition that showcased our work in the community and our Main Gallery became a dedicated space for our projects to be celebrated. Phoenix studio artists Natasha Bidgood and Carol Quinn both offered interactive, portrait-based activities. A pop-up photography studio occupied part of the space, allowing local residents and visitors to create family portraits and a self-portrait Doodle Gallery helped to transform the space into an evolving visual representation of ourselves, our neighbours and our visitors.


For more information about the Phoenix Art Space Learning and Community Engagement Programme contact

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