Winchester artists and Open Studios

Press Release: 31/08/2005

Winchester City Council is working in partnership with Arts Council England and other local authorities to develop Open Studios.

This is a scheme for inviting visitors to see artists in their own workplace, and to see the amazing range of work carried out in workshops, homes and even garden sheds throughout the area, including many of our rural communities.

The 'SHIPs' partnership - Councils in Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth - has announced the appointment of Melanie Stidolph as Open Studios Development Officer.

Melanie has a wide range of experience working with visual arts organisations, including the National Gallery, London and The Photographers' Gallery, as well as individual artists. During the next six months she will be researching and advising on strategies to support the development and raise the profile of artists in the SHIPS region for the benefit of individual artists and the wider economy.

The project will build on the recommendations from the report 'The future of open studio events in Hampshire' carried out by Wendi Watson - organiser of the very successful Hampshire Artists Open Studios - earlier this year. It will focus on the delivery of strategies to support the continued growth of the visual arts in Hampshire and will explore the potential for joint initiatives across the SHIPS regions

Some of the districts covered by the project have established Open Studios programmes, including Winchester's 'Making Merry' weekend 19-20 November, when there is a chance to discover how craft items are designed and made while visiting local artists and craftspeople in their homes and studios. These events continue to attract increased audience numbers and participants from year to year. Initial ideas for developing these events include an education programme and a toolkit for artists.

Another key area to be explored is the promotion of a region-wide Open Studios event and the opportunities and challenges such a joint initiative could create.

The promotion of Open Studios is just one strand of arts development which includes projects in other arts forms including improving resources in music for young people, media and dance, and measurement of the major economic impact which arts have in the region.

Melanie Stidolph is an artist with recent successful exhibitions in New York, London and a forthcoming solo exhibition at the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art. She has experience as a fundraiser, project manager and marketing manager with individual artists, galleries and arts organisations including Space Studios.

Melanie will be contacting individuals and organisations across the region and would like to hear your opinions about the arts in your area. If you would like to know more about the project or contribute to it she would be pleased to hear from you.

Melanie Stidolph, OS Development Officer - stidolph@hotmail.com Tel: 020 7247 5808