We were extremely lucky to bump into Jason Simpson when we went over to see the Neo Print Prize Exhibition in Bolton. Jason was kind enough to show us around the organisations group studios, needless to say I left feeling very envious of their studios and facilities!
The group is a not-for-profit organisation founded to aid the development of creative practitioners in Bolton and the surrounding areas. Offering affordable studio spaces, printing and sculpture facilities, exhibition and curating opportunities as well as workshops, skill sharing and peer support. With the aim to raise the profile of contemporary art in the North West of England and beyond.
Jason explained a little about the running of the studios to us; there is a core committee [of which Jason is the Director] who take on the responsibility of the day-to-day running of the group/studios, yet all members are expected to contribute to the upkeep of the studios in some way, shape or form, it seems very much a team effort. Housing a variety of media, the studios sprawl over two floors of former offices, with spaces varying from small individual rooms to larger private studios, and some open plan shared spaces. There is also a large well equipped print room and a sculpture/workshop which all members have access too, and are also available to associate members.
Jason was keen to point out the support of the local council and shopping centre in providing them with [a] an affordable building for studio spaces and [b] temporary exhibition spaces in vacant shops - in fact the shopping centre also hosted other art exhibitions and displays by other local artists and schools, which was so refreshing to see. The temporary gallery space in which the Print Prize was held in Bolton Market Place, was donated by Agora Shopping Centres Ltd, and in an ideal place for maximum exposure to passing trade and to members of the public who might not otherwise think of going to a gallery, so having a professional and inviting/accessible gallery right next to Debenhams is a brilliant idea! They currently have a second temporary project space around the corner in Merchant's Place, River Street, donated by Charles Topham Investments, currently hosting an exhibition by Manchester based poet Matthew Curry.