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This is a guest blog by Penny Hay FRSA. Penny received an RSA Catalyst grant to help run a contemporary arts event in Bath. She is currently running a crowdfunding campaign through the new RSA curated area on Kickstarter to further develop the project.

Next Spring we plan to organise four action-packed days of immersive, multi-sensory, creative experiences in and around Bath, providing an opportunity for all ages across the diverse community of the city to engage with creativity.  It will be packed with exciting contemporary arts, performances, and workshops. There will be a world street cafe and a kaleidoscope of surprises to engage all ages: a place of serious creative play.

The idea of a need for a permanent creative arts space in Bath had been discussed for a while, and we came to a decision that one way of launching this would be this 4 day event.  We drew the RSA Fellowship into the concept in its early stages; speaking at the local Bath network about our vision for the project.  We were given really helpful feedback and gained a number of additional Fellows becoming involved with the organising team.  Over the summer we worked on the idea and the concept of the project, and were subsequently supported by the RSA with £2,000 Catalyst funding.

The objective of the permanent space and the 4 day event is to promote culture change through engagement: the reinvention of Bath, and the promotion of well-being, cultural, economic and public value without conflict.  An art space is a unique opportunity to revitalise the culture of the region, being a stimulus and a hub for innovation in co-creativity, co-design and co-curatorship.  Engagement with leading contemporary arts both directly enlivens the local culture, and draws and retains the creative professional individuals the region needs to sustain and expand the knowledge industries, which are already taking over the main commercial support of the region.

The objective is to promote culture change through engagement: the reinvention of Bath, and the promotion of well-being, cultural, economic and public value without conflict.

Research has shown there is particular need for this kind of space in Bath: it was recognized by the City Identity project from Bath and North East Somerset Council, which aims to support and foster the cultural climate in which the creative industries flourish and prosper.  A report by Nesta (2010) identifies this area as a creative hotspot, but also that there is a need to retain creative talent from Bath’s universities and colleges to foster the local culture (Florida 2002); and research by Mickeldore (2012) which demonstrates the need for a creative hub to grow the city’s creative economy.


We have built up a remarkable array of partner organisations involved: Bath University, Bath Spa University, 5x5x5=creativity, Illuminate Bath, Bath Festivals, Bath Film Festival, Buro Happold, WOMAD and Real World Studios, TEDx Youth Bath, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Demuths' Cookery School, Grant Associates, Bath & NE Somerset Council, Patrick Woodroffe Lighting design, Invisible Studio, and Niki Turner Designs. We also have Stuart MacDonald, founding Director of the Lighthouse, Glasgow, and Toby Jackson, former Head of Education at Tate Modern consulting on the business case to take the artspace concept forward.

Bath is already an extraordinary city, evidenced by the remarkable achievements of our two universities, the scale and significance of Bath's creative and technology industries, and the talented national and international figures who are based in the area. Blessed with an outstanding heritage of radical entrepreneurialism, human creative genius and wellbeing, the city of Bath is ideally positioned to build on the existing strengths of the community to achieve recognition on the international stage. Artspace will be a powerful catalyst in making this happen, engaging the latent creativity and talent of the local culture by hosting and showcasing the best of global cutting-edge art and innovation, fostering a uniquely attractive and vibrant city culture.

ARTSPACEHow you can get involved

In partnership with the RSA we have launched a crowdfunding campaign to support this initiative.

Our funding campaign is live on kickstarter and we are aiming to raise £10,000 by 16 October. We would be very grateful if you could pledge your support, or help spread the word by sharing our campaign with your contacts. To find out more please contact me by email ( or via Twitter @PenAHay.

Take advantage of a special launch offer to the first 200 crowdfunding pledges made by RSA Fellows. The RSA will match the campaign(s) you have backed to a maximum of £10 if you tell your network which project you’ve backed via: a comment in the RSA Fellows LinkedIn group discussion on crowdfunding; tweeting using the #RSACrowdfunding hashtag; or posting a status update on the RSA’s facebook group.


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