The Art House

Project description

The Art House is a unique national membership organisation for visual artists, created to provide and campaign for equality of access to opportunities for work, training and exhibiting for both disabled and non-disabled artists equally. Its facilities at Wakefield provides purpose-built accessible and supported studio spaces, artists can work alongside each other on equal terms, as well as designing and managing projects including residencies, exhibitions, commissions and research, nationally and internationally.

Aims and objectives

The aim of The Art House in Wakefield was to provide studio space for both disabled and non-disabled artists, with onsite support of technicians available to help disabled people with any work they are unable to undertake themselves.

Founded in 1994, The Art House charity organisation was set up by artist Patricia Sutcliffe, who uses a wheelchair due to having osteo-arthritis, to work towards a goal of providing other disabled artists with suitable workspace, otherwise unavailable at the time.

Project Start Date and End Date

The Art House took 12 years to plan and develop from start to finish. A feasibility study funded by the Arts Council England was completed in 2000 by The Art House. Following a long search for a site and a local authority willing and able to support the project with EU funding, construction work was able to begin in February 2007, and the studios and facilities in Wakefield finally opened in June 2008.

Services offered

  • a telephone advice service,
  • meeting rooms,
  • offices for the Art House charity/company,
  • a community studio with printmaking facilities,
  • organisation of national and international residencies, and
  • the hosting of exhibitions and open studio events

Additionally, the site is accessible by public transport, situated 2 minutes from the railway station with a municipal car park nearby.

Success factors

The Art House site, in close proximity to both the railway station and a municipal car park, is an ideal location for an easily accessible community building with specific facilities for disabled people.

Risk factors

An additional problem that had to be resolved that the landlord of the neighbouring pub had a right of access across the site to get into his garage, which was built on land owned by the Council, but leased to the public house tenant. A revised leasehold agreement was finally negotiated, under which The Art House demolished the old garage and built a new garage for the landlord as part of their new development.

Business/operational model

Financing and Funding Arrangement

Measurement and Monitoring

Measures of success for the project are:

  • Usage of short-term studios and flat
  • Usage of community studio/printmaking studio
  • Usage of meeting rooms, bringing in revenue

At the beginning of September 2008, all 12 studios were let, with 5 being occupied by disabled artists.  Although all other areas are in use, progress is more gradual than had been originally projected.

Future developments


The Art House website:

The Arts Council in its Capital Case Study provides more detailed information on the Art House

Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, adopted April 2009, Local Development Framework Core Strategy

Wakefield Metropolitan District Council,

Living places in action

Contact details

Anne Cunningham
Chief Executive

The Art House
Tel: 01924 377740
Visit the website