In 2016 the Careers and Employability (C & E) team at Bath Spa University created a new initiative using Santander funding to launch a brand new programme which support graduates looking to continue their creative practice after leaving University. The BSU Studio Residency scheme provides graduates with 10-months free work space within a studio community, along with mentoring, peer learning, access to resources and profile raising opportunities. The Studio Residencies have been developed in partnership with Bristol’s Spike Island, Redbrick House and Bristol Textile Quarter. The opportunities were brokered by Abigail Branagan, Business Liaison Consultant within the C & E team and promoted to the students via their course leaders. This initiative has already led to two graduates establishing their businesses in Bristol.
Anna Lambert, who graduated with a BA in Textile Design for Fashion and Interiors in 2016, is still based at Bristol Textile Quarter and has recently launched a collection for the National Trust. She commented, “the best thing about the opportunity was being back in a studio environment with the space and facilities to design and make again. It was also great to be surrounded by other people working in similar areas to bounce ideas off of and get advice”.
Fine Art Photography graduate Benjamin Jones has been accepted for a studio at Spike Island in Bristol, but while waiting for a space to become available there is currently based at Estate for the Arts in Bedminster, another thriving local arts community, and he is actively exhibiting his work. He manages the darkrooms at the Bristol Folk House and this variety of roles has given him great opportunities to grow his networks within the local creative sector. He took part in Spike Island Creative Exchange at Tate Modern and has shown in Spike Island Test Space and at the Koppel Project in London.
The C & E team’s work with local businesses aims to give BSU graduates the opportunities and networks required to break into a highly competitive creative industry in Bristol and start their own enterprises, while at the same time supporting the local economic growth in and around the area.