A creative hub in Cornwall
Cornwall is one of the poorest regions in the UK. Amidst the picturesque beaches and holiday homes, food banks are on the rise and employment at an all-time low. Since the collapse of mining and fishing, the secure jobs these industries provided have never been replaced.
The lack of opportunities means that a lot of the county’s most talented and ambitious young people don’t return after university. To address this, Creative Kernow sought to maintain jobs in the region, by providing creative professionals with the facilities they need locally.
“It has long been our ambition to have a creative hub in Cornwall and we chose Redruth because we knew we could make a real difference here.”
The solution was Krowji; a multi-purpose arts site providing affordable studios and offices for a range of creative practitioners. Krowji began life 10 years ago in the refurbished Old Grammar School Buildings in Redruth.
“It has long been our ambition to have a creative hub in Cornwall and we chose Redruth because we knew we could make a real difference here,” explains Ross Williams, Director of Creative Kernow “It used to be a mining town so was very run down. We wanted to not only offer a physical space for artists to work, but create a community, offering support and advice and guidance to the sector. The Melting Pot Cafe has helped with this too – it is a great place for businesses to come together and share ideas.”
The next stage for Krowji was to demolish some of the older studios and build a state of the art, three-story eco-building that doubled its capacity to more than 200 tenants.
Securing the funding
The £3.5 million for phase one of the project was funded by a grant from the European Regional Development Fund and a loan from Triodos Bank.
Ross said: “This was a bit of a quirky project, and the High Street banks didn’t really get it so we struggled to secure funding. But once we were put in touch with Triodos, they made a real effort to understand what we were trying to achieve and were happy to support us. And, as a charity, we are pleased to be working with an ethical bank; it fits well with our ideals.”
David Lamb is Creative Kernow’s relationship manager at Triodos Bank, and managed their application for finance. “We lend to a lot of charities, so we understand they’re not the same as private sector businesses, particularly in terms of funding. In this case, Creative Kernow had a solid track record of grant funding behind them, which is always a good sign, and an experienced team to manage the project.
“Arts and community development is an area we’re keen to lend to, although bankable opportunities in this space are relatively rare. So we’re very excited we’re able to work with Ross and his team.”
Now 12 months on, the project is going well and the development completed.
“Krowji is thriving and this new project really built on what we had already achieved.” Says Ross. “There is lots of collaboration within the hub, it is a real virtuous economy, with practitioners passing each other work. For example, photographers shooting catalogues for jewellers and graphic designers creating websites for lots of the businesses onsite. We think this ongoing redevelopment project will attract more businesses to the area, enabling us to continue to develop the creative sector in Cornwall and help regenerate Redruth.”
Krowji is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Creative Kernow. CK was established in 1984 to provide a programme of performing arts events in Cornwall and to campaign for the creation of a proper arts venue, but has evolved over the years into Cornwall’s leading creative sector support agency, delivering a whole range of projects. Krowji – the name means ‘shed’ in Cornish – opened in 2005 and since then refurbishment has continued on a regular basis.
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