image: Workshop Birmingham BPS report (Ruth Claxton)
Last month, we promoted an open call for a survey for Birmingham Production Space; gathering information on the region’s current art and design practice, finding out what the creative industries need, what are the challenges and opportunities that graduates or professionals face in producing new creative work.
We received over 165 responses, giving us a very clear picture of some of the main issues – but also how relevant and important a facility like Birmingham Production Space can become. It has reinforced our motivation so we are still excited by the potential.
Here are some highlights.
- for context, 84% of respondents were from Birmingham. 13% were from the West Midlands region
- over half or respondents categorised themselves as artist. Architects, cultural producers, designers/makers each had an approximate share of 10-12% each.
- A high proportion of respondents chose to base themselves in Birmingham after finishing their HE studies, indicating that the city does attract a number of active practitioners.
- There was an equal share between undergraduate and postgraduate degrees as their highest qualification (44% and 43%). Almost all respondents came from a higher education background but perhaps surprisingly, there were as many graduates from undergrad studies as to postgrads (44% to 43% respectively).
- Over 75% of respondents claimed less than £10,000 turnover from their creative practice. All those earning over £40,000 worked in architectural practice.
- 39% worked in unheated spaces with some surprisingly high number of spaces not having basics like insurance or running water!
- About 39% work in a studio, either rented or owned, whilst 44% work at home. Considering over 40% also claimed to have a dirty workspace or workshop, this means many practitioners working from home have customised their spaces to accommodate workshop type facilities.
- 67% said they develop their practice through peer learning whilst ‘trial and error’ was higher at 80%. Relate this back to a key barrier that many claimed the experimental phase of production was limited in order to reduce expenses – which does not help induce innovation or new creative/collaborative practice.
- Other barriers include the scale/size of work ie. being limited by the makeshift spaces they work/produce in rather than being able to make to their full intention.
- Some of the key attractions for using a facility like BPS are the high-end equipment, shared/social activity, technical support and opportunity to try different workshop activities easily.
A full list and breakdown of the survey results can be viewed here. The data will be presented in order to make a case for a Birmingham Production Space. And we do encourage readers to use/extract information for their own research purposes (with the appropriate acknowledgements of course).