Every since the Inside Out group was formed, we had been wondering about the possibility of providing it with a permanent home – somewhere that would give the group access to exhibition, studio and teaching space.

In early 2010, the newly-formed Inside Out Art Projects Community Interest Company leased a ground-floor space in the Cambrian Studios Building in Oswestry and created a shared exhibition and working space for the Inside Out artists. Throughout the following twelve months, the studio hosted group and single “Featured Artist” exhibitions, showcasing local, professional, practising and student artists. We also used the space to hold workshops and skill-sharing sessions.

We kept the studio open to the public every Wednesday and Saturday. Although the venue was somewhat out of the way, we were gratified that twenty to thirty people managed to find us each week: students from Wrexham, Shrewsbury and Chester, artists from across Shropshire, as well as curious members of the public. We started up our first Inside Out website, our blog, and began to tweet what we were up to as well.

In spring 2011, we handed the lease over to a group of a dozen independent artists who converted Studio A1 into the Screamin’ Chicken Gallery, featuring their own themed exhibitions of professional work.

In many ways, our year in Studio A1 was a great success. We got to meet a lot of new artists, integrated the group into the art scene in Oswestry, and proved that we could run a small gallery and teaching space effectively. But with the onset of the general economic downturn, funding for arts projects like this dried up completely, and it was clear that without funding, the long-term viability of a space like Studio A1 would always be in question.

Will we ever try something like Studio A1 ever again? Perhaps in the future – when funding for the arts is more certain, and we can deliver the kind of exhibition, working and teaching space that the local community of artists really needs. In the meantime, we’ll continue to focus on our various diverse projects and exhibitions.

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