Bank Street Arts in Sheffield City Centre was an innovative cross-disciplinary Arts Centre, set up in 2008 by John Clark. John ran the organisation and was also Creative Director for eight years, overseeing its development from a fledgling studio and gallery complex into an innovative, research based, contemporary arts centre with an international reputation. Bank Street Arts was a registered charity but never relied on traditional funding streams to remain afloat: in fact, part of our mandate became the questioning and critiquing of the way in which contemporary art organisations ran their businesses – an approach which attracted as many critics as disciples within the art establishment in Sheffield and beyond. The interest in this area related to the relationship between funding and artistic integrity, and how business decisions impacted upon the work you could do.

After John’s departure in 2015, the organisation ran into financial difficulties and by the end of 2017 the Centre closed its doors. In some senses, this demise was predicted and premeditated as can be seen in earlier business planning. The challenge for those taking over the organisation was to take heed of such predictions and develop an alternative strategy – however, the stresses, strains and workload of the day to day running of such a busy and varied public-facing organisation probably proved to be its downfall.  There simply wasn’t enough slack in the system, or outside funding available to cope with both the necessary planning and the active running that the Centre required.

This website is an archive some of the work carried out in the Centre over its ten year lifespan. The text in green has been added to create a ‘readable’ archive. The text in black is by and large copied from the original website which can be viewed via Wayback Machine.

Original BSA text and aims

Bank Street Arts is a self funded Arts Centre providing a home, venue and setting for a wide range of creative individuals and organizations, housing some of the best new art, writing and culture from across the region and throughout the UK. The Centre consists of 24 Studios and Offices, 7 Gallery spaces, 3 Project Spaces, an Education Space, a Café, a shared Jewellery Cooperative and Workshop. Housed within a series of Listed Georgian terraces, BSA uses the physicality of its setting as both the basis of and inspiration for much of the work that takes place within its walls.

Bank Street Arts is unique in terms of its structure and organization. As a self funded Arts Centre, existing independently of outside funding bodies, BSA has the freedom to determine its own remit and operate in ways that organisations at the behest of outside targets are unable to do. This freedom comes at a price in terms of budgets but delivers a premium in terms of flexibility and openness to ideas, suggestions and outside involvement – BSA does not need to overly define what it does and can respond quickly to suggestions, opportunities and requests.

In 2011 the Centre hosted 65 different exhibitions involving over 1750 participants; a true testament to the way we operate. At Bank Street Arts, nothing is set in stone (even walls have been known to move) and every day is different.

Our artistic aims are to provide:

  • Good quality, affordable studio space for creative practitioners
  • Opportunities for anyone interested in participating in contemporary art, craft, performance and writing
  • A hub for creative practice in Sheffield
  • Encouragement and a collaborative working environment, promoting hybrid arts between diverse practitioners
  • And to reach a wider audience for contemporary art, craft and writing through collaboration with popular festivals and events
  • To be open to all but within a remit of cutting edge contemporary practice