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Sadiq Khan launches major plans to tackle London’s lack of affordable creative studio space


Somerset House Studios. Photo: Luke Walker

Sadiq Khan has announced he is working with Arts Council England and Studiomakers, an initiative led by Outset Contemporary Art Fund, on plans to tackle London’s shortage of affordable creative workspace. If realised, the Creative Land Trust would provide faster financing for studio providers looking to buy their buildings, and would hold property for use as permanent affordable artist studios.

The mayor spoke at the opening of Somerset House Studios, new affordable studios within Somerset House in central London, that will have 100 artist and designer residents.

According to the Artists’ Workspace Study, commissioned by the mayor’s office in 2014, there will be a predicted 30% loss of artists’ workspace in London by 2019, which would leave 3,500 creatives without studios. This is largely down to a booming residential market and a change in planning regulations allowing workspace to be changed into homes more easily. The creative industries currently contribute £32bn a year to London’s economy, and represent one in six new jobs.

Plans for the Creative Land Trust draw inspiration from other similar models internationally, for example the Community Arts Stabilisation Trust (CAST) in San Francisco, which improves the capacity for arts and cultural organisations to acquire property for studios.

“Culture is in the DNA of the capital but we cannot be complacent,” Sadiq said at the SHS opening event. “As property prices rise and new areas of the city grow, artists are finding themselves unable to put down roots here.”


Somerset House Studios. Photo: Luke Walker