2014 BAC Cataloguing Grant for Business Archives related to the Arts Winner

The Business Archives Council is delighted to announce the winners of the BAC cataloguing grant for business archives related to the Arts, 2014. The Arts grant was launched last year to support an under-represented area of business archives and to complement wider initiatives for archiving the arts by The National Archives and the Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives.

Once again, the judging panel was very impressed with the high standard of the applications that were received from across the country, but ultimately decided to present the award to Spike Island Artspace Ltd & The Bristol Record Office for the cataloguing of The Artspace Archive, incorporating Top Floor Studios, Bristol Sculpture Shed and Bristol Printmakers.

Spike Island Artspace Ltd – The Artspace Archive

Spike Island is a pioneering artist-led co-operative of printmakers, sculptors and painters based in former industrial warehouses adjacent to Bristol’s docks.  Following the closure of the Bristol city docks in 1975, Bristol’s quayside became neglected and started to fall into decay.  Inspired by the SPACE studios in London, Artspace (the precursor to Spike Island), moved into the McArthur warehouse in 1976 and from there began to bring together a new generation of practising visual artists.  This marked the beginning of the recycling of disused harbour-side buildings, paving the way for property developers from the late 1980s who were able to promote their developments on the back of these innovative cultural initiatives.  Using premises purchased in 1996 by Artspace, ‘Spike Island’ (the expanded, successor organisation to Artspace) opened in 1998 and continues to this day to organise regular public programmes of international contemporary art and host artists’ studios and spaces for small art & design related businesses.

The Artspace archive, which includes records of finance, planning and negotiations with funders, councillors and developers, will reveal new historical perspectives on the transformation of Bristol’s post-industrial heartland as well as evidence the wider cultural and economic impact of Artspace on the region, and beyond.  The archive will be of interest to practicing artists, not least those currently working at Spike Island, as well as academics and art historians who wish to research amongst other things the relationships between arts organisations and the development of artistic practice as well as the economic sustainability of artistic co-operatives.

The archive has been deposited at The Bristol Record Office (BRO) to ensure that access to and preservation of the collection is maintained at a high level.  In addition to the professional cataloguing advice that will be provided by the BRO, the judging panel was pleased to see the use of volunteers drawn from founder members of Artspace and was assured that with professional guidance their knowledge and experiences will add a unique insight and richness to the cataloguing.  The panel was also impressed with the additional support being provided by the BRO that is being funded outside of the BAC grant including the joint-hosting of the completed catalogue online, provision of archival packaging and assistance with outreach.  Overall, the judging panel concluded that the cataloguing project is realistic, provides value for money and is worthy of support.

Read the report.