OUTPOST has been a vibrant hub for the arts community in Norwich since 2010. An artist-run charity committed to promoting contemporary art, the OUTPOST gallery facilitates a programme of five exhibitions a year, in addition to managing offsite projects and events and running two artistic programmes.
The OUTPOST Core Programme is designed to support emerging artists, students, and OUTPOST members. The OUTPOST Creative Programme, which is part funded by Arts Council England, supports individuals from working class and lower socio-economic backgrounds. Aiming to increase the diversity of representation of artists through providing creative promotion and beneficial developmental opportunities, The OUTPOST Creative Programme facilitates a series of exhibitions, events, residencies, and workshops.
Founded on providing equal opportunities in the artistic and creative community, OUTPOST has two charitable aims and objectives. Their first mission is to promote education in the arts to the public though maintaining an art gallery space that publicly exhibits contemporary art, specifically that of which has been created by students and emerging artists. Their second mission is to provide a studio space which offers the relief of poverty among emerging artists, offering a place in which they can partake in creative practices and are assisted by a support network. Providing training and experience in running a contemporary art space and studio through their volunteering group The Norwich OUTPOST Steering Committee, OUTPOST has supported the professional development of many individuals within the Norwich community.
Offering an affordable studio complex for over 80 artists and practitioners, OUTPOST Studios was founded in 2010 and remains to be one of the largest studio providers in the East of England. With open calls for artist residency, OUTPOST invites applications from self-taught artists and creatives across East Anglia, particularly welcoming Black, and minority ethnic candidates and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, so they can receive mentorship from OUTPOST Studios. However, being based at Gildengate House in Anglia Square which is known for being a neglected site in Norwich, the upcoming redevelopment of the square means that OUTPOST Studios will soon be demolished.
This will most likely have a dire effect on the Norwich arts community, with less opportunity for artists and creative practitioners, especially those of whom come from disadvantaged or lower socioeconomic backgrounds, to gain access to affordable studio spaces to conduct their creative practices. Consequentially, reduced artistic production and activity means the local contemporary art scene that works to diversify, inform, and engage gallery audiences and the public community in Norwich will be hit hard by the absence of local artistic contribution that OUTPOST Studios supports and promotes.
What does this mean for artists and audiences in the Norwich arts community? Simply put, they must face the fated loss of a critical creative network in Norwich, one which provides a space for artists and creatives to establish their creative presence, and an asset which has helped shape the Norwich arts scene.