East Street Arts (ESA) was established in 1993 when two artists couldn't find the support and infrastructure they needed to develop their art practice. ESA have worked to secure better livelihoods for artists and their neighbours and address issues of economic and commercial decline in towns and cities.
Art can be a positive way to develop skills, create employment and stimulate economic growth. But for many artists, it’s a challenge to find studio space and somewhere affordable to live.
East Street Arts delivers professional support programmes for artists. Through many partnerships with artists across the UK and abroad, they saw a need to create a bespoke art hostel offering long-term, affordable and accessible accommodation where artists could work and stay in Leeds. So it began renovating disused buildings, to create art studios in disadvantaged areas.
The loan, from Key Fund, was used to renovate a building in the Kirkgate area and convert it into a residential art hostel and creative hub. Each bedroom has its own unique design, while a project space hosts a programme of artists' events and installations with links to the city’s creative scene.
The facility's social aim is to support and retain young creative talent in the city while boosting the socio-economic development of the area. The facility currently has five live-in volunteers, a local volunteer team of 10, and widespread support from the local community. Trading income generated by the hostel pays back the loan amount.