A group of artists who had worked in Greenwich for over 20 years, GASA began as an informal arrangement until 1978 when the association became a non-profit making limited company. An attempt to purchase their site was frustrated by a Section 57 notice and vacated at the end of 1993.
During its life, GASA was regularly visited by artists, critics and curators from all over the world and its open Studio Shows brought the works of the participants to both local and national audiences. A strong feeling that the network of professional and educational links which had been forged in Greenwich should not be lost led to the establishment of Art in Perpetuity Trust (APT) by a number of GASA artists determined to form an organisation which would provide a home proof against eviction.
A suitable building, Harold Works, was found bordering Deptford Creek. Its supportive owner allowed apt to have three months’ rent free in which to convert the former chandlery into studios. There is a seven-year lease in operation with the right to buy at a fixed price during the first three years and a first option to buy after that--and plans to purchase are proceeding.
Normally the provision of all artist-run exhibition, education and studio space has had to rely on cheap short-term leases, subject to market forces as to price and availability. Thus money spent on renovation is lost, goodwill and networks dispersed and no capital accumulated.
By forming apt, GASA and its supporters aim to establish a permanent financially self-sustaining home for arts activity in South-East London. It seeks to be a model for other arts groups in the UK and hopes to develop links with similar organisations. apt is a charitable company limited by guarantee--all tenants automatically becoming members with the associated rights and duties of that role. The company is run by a management committee who are directors of apt. Prospective members must go through a vetting procedure to maintain high standards of art and ensure that the conditions of the charity are met.
apt is working closely with the Boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham on the Urban Strategy for the Creekside. apt is part of the £8.2 million Creekside Regeneration bid with capital and revenue funding starting from April 1997.
apt has a strong commitment to education is particularly focused on the community and involves all ages regardless of ability--with physically and mentally disadvantaged high on the list of priorities.
A programme of events and workshops for schools, groups and individuals in the local community is being developed in co-operation with the local education authority and other interested parties. The majority of projects will take place in its building but there will also be an outreach programme including an ongoing artist-in-residence scheme.
The education programme, linked both to the gallery programme and the provision of local art education, will utilise the expertise of the membership--a living, working artistic community. It will specialise in practical rather than theoretical education, building bridges between the practical artists in their studios and the aspirations of students from all walks of life.
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