In 2005, with partners, they delivered a city-wide arts festival called Situation Leeds. It had taken years to get to the point where something of this scale could be delivered, with the initial conversations of creating something of this scale beginning after the ‘Formerly Known As Art’ in 2000.
Situation Leeds raised the bar, opening up discussions about how audiences needed developing alongside opportunities for artists. It was an important achievement, so much so that Leeds Beckett tutor Doug Sandal wrote an evaluation paper that was presented at an international symposium.
The second festival followed in 2007, following a similar formula but lost some of the first dynamicism through a different core group being involved in the delivery. Some harsh criticisms came from within the sector criticising the event for not being something it never set out to be! Regardless it successfully played a key role in highlighting local artistic talent and bringing in artists from further afield.
Situation Leeds influenced the shape of the Light Night events started by Leeds City Council around this time, and East Street Arts contribution to the festival saw the development of a new programme across all art forms, beyond the festival, called Social Club (a vehicle to explore socially engaged practices).
Social Club took reference from the history of Patrick Studios as a former catholic church social club that during its heyday had been a real hub of activity like most working men’s clubs or social clubs. The Project Space became a hub again and hosted several key events exploring aspects of hospitality, collectivism and participation and included exhibitions, Most visual arts providers in Leeds were approached to create a joint event, working together to profile artists in the city and, where possible, bring new artists in. A steering group was formed, funding was raised from Arts Council England and Leeds City Council, with designers being commissioned to create a distinctive brand identity for the festival.
Newcastle based artists Catherine Bertola and Sarah Walton were recruited to manage the festival.
The two-week festival happened in May 2005 across Leeds, with over 100 artists from students to established practitioners taking part with work spanning guerrilla activity in and around the urban landscape to socially engaged work with communities. The Black Dogs, a new student collective studying at Leeds University, used Situation Leeds to present their degree show.
Alongside a symposium and artists talks there was so much art to explore. The distinct bright pink branding set the festival apart with the accompanying catalogue winning a design award in its own right.#
London based collective FrenchMottershead, who had just completed a piece for the Liverpool Biennale, were commissioned to create a project called Post Echo. For this they took stories from the Leeds Evening Post, went out onto the streets in the city centre armed with cameras and asked shoppers, people having lunch or passing by to re-enact the scene described in the paper. They then designed a special edition of a newspaper which was printed by the Evening Post that presented the same stories but with new images. A launch, attended by participants, was held at Borders bookshop.
Alongside the developments needed for the two festivals and launching Social Club, East Street Arts also focused on a two year professional development programme based on the success of DCap.
EATS (Enterprising Artists Training Sessions) was funded by New Technologies Institute (later to become part of Leeds Beckett) and supported a much larger group each year than we had focused on for DCap.
EATS was a bespoke course for studio-based artists and aimed at those wanting to be taken seriously and progress their careers. It covered most of the subject areas we had developed during Dcap and some of the artists involved in a Dcap led session for EATS. Workshops, classes, portfolio critiques and talks took place over two programmes in 2005 and 2006.
During this time the Project Space at Patrick Studios was also being used for mini residencies that could be opened to the public, sharing the artistic process as well as the end product.
The research trips continued with visits to Belfast and Berlin. In the German capital, as well as meeting local artists, with the help of a friend, East Street Arts snuck artwork into the city’s art fair on the opening night, presenting work guerilla style on spare walls, also finding space for performances.
Although still on a small revenue grant from Arts Council and Leeds City Council there was enough with the project fundraising to continue to develop a healthy programme and other projects including:
- Delineate: A group show over two sites exploring the use of the line in drawing. Patrick Studios Project Space and the Crossley gallery at Dean Clough were curated by Lara and included 16 Yorkshire-based artists pushing the boundaries of mark-making.
- RouteMappers: Following on from EATS it was included in Leeds City Council’s ERDF funding as one of nine projects. Routemappers was a new professional Development programme aimed at emerging artists to support them in being able to move into self-employment through their practice.
- Art Art Art: was a free online publication committed to sharing information and opportunities with emerging artists across the UK. For it’s first birthday East Street Arts partnered with Art Art Art on the first of a series of national launch parties showcasing innovative practitioners in new cities.
- 3X3: A unique professional development programme over a 12 month period. Karen and Jon invited artists and curators to come and spend the day at Patrick studios. Half the day was professional support aimed at East Street Artsas an organisation and half the day opened up to anyone to book a place. Invited guests were: Ele Carpenter, Tereza Kotyk, Paul O’neill and Ryan Gander.
- Brno exchange: As part of Leeds City Council’s on-going relationship with Brno in the Czech Republic the team developed a programme and became part of the official exchange. Four artists showed their work as part of a series of events and two artists conducted workshops with young people.
- Salon Doppleganger 09: Turning Dortmund’s round gallery into a Salon full of Leeds based artists work on red walls as one of a series of ‘Salon exhibitions’ that also took place at Patrick studios, Union 105, and Leeds Art Fair.
- WYVAN: A collective of visual arts organisations that had a core focus on supporting artists: East Street Arts (Leeds), Fabric (Bradford), Loca (Huddersfield), The Art House (Wakefield) and West Yorkshire print Workshop (Mirfield). The collective worked together over several years to strengthen their offer, support each other and encourage artists to each other’s events.
- Social Club: Journey included: Routmappers café, Social Club bar, Socialist Jukebox event, go-see-buy, second life meeting, cooking with Herman and other events. Including Open Studios.
- Multitude: Multitude focused on the obsession of collecting included artist residency, tours of collections in peoples homes, salon exhibition, Transpennine Memorabilia Collection.