An immersive experience for all...
What would happen if you took a building on the oldest street in Leeds, dating back two centuries, and gave it a complete facelift? What if you released local and international artists… each motivated in encouraging art to become less observational and more interactive – an immersive experience for all – to shine a vision of their own, into it’s rooms? An urban revitalisation, an economic catalyst for ethical tourism, the first social enterprise Art Hostel in the UK, providing unique accommodation in a playful, creative space. What if it existed? Well now, it does.
Leeds has a thriving grassroots and DIY art scene – independent craft, cultural and gastro individuals collaborate in a support network that leads to established businesses. Art Hostel is leading the way with a brand new concept – a social mission focused on strengthening the local economy through creating new jobs and increasing income to the area, supporting neighbourhood regeneration and pioneering a new model for artists to interact with the wider community – increasing access to the arts by introducing culture via new public terrain. Art Hostel also fulfils local demand, currently there is no year-round budget-style-stay available in the city, offering a low cost alternative within a bespoke experience.
Each bedroom will be a unique design, contemporary and comfortable. A project space on the ground floor will host artists in an evolving gallery/exhibition space, while in the basement a dynamic rolling programme of installations/events awaits; this space can also be hired for your own occasion. Art Hostel aims to enhance the experience of the way people stay, encouraging visitors to contribute to the city of Leeds while they are here, providing a physical infrastructure to make, create, debate, sleep and explore, meaning you can leave your creative trace on it’s ever evolving interior. The organisation behind this exciting project is East Street Arts, who have supported the development of artistic practices in Leeds for over 21 years. Art Hostel, their latest brainchild, is their most ambitious undertaking yet.
Providing investment to organisations focused on community and economic impact, Key Fund, financed the building restoration works and supported in the development of a sustainable business model. Contributing to the pilot, Bauman Lyons, an award-winning architects established in Leeds have supported East Street Arts for over 12 years. Crowd funding also gave independent contributors the opportunity to invest, successfully raising over £6k. With freedom to innovate, Leeds Inspired creative programmes commissioned artists to create installations resident to the hostel, adding vibrancy to the general make-up surrounding it’s guests. The building itself is in the Lower Kirkgate Townscape Heritage Initiative area, outlined by Leeds city council for repair, reinstatement and conservation.
With it’s 2023 bid for European Capital of Culture in development, Leeds has ambition for even greater things. The city’s excellent track record for hosting is well known, in 2014 the world’s largest sporting event came to Leeds, the Tour de France. For 100 days the city hosted a programme of culture, from exhibitions and art works to street performances – the creative arts community came together to turn pop-up spaces into playful socials, entertaining approximately 2 million visitors experiencing the historic moment the Tour de France came to Yorkshire.
Leeds has even more international cultural activity than many of it’s neighbouring cities, and is now focusing on strategically promoting it’s European links, to form a shared strategy. So, what’s in store for Leeds as it rises from independent to international status? Looks like you’ll just have to pop in for a refreshing cultural cocktail and find out for yourself. Art Hostel will open it’s doors to guests from June 2016 and bookings can be made via the website from April.