NFASP was set up in 2007 in response to an expressed need and demand from affordable studio providers for a national body to represent their sector. Research and practice had shown this was a vital sector offering fundamental support to artists, but one which was increasingly under threat and lacked recognition.
A 2004 survey of 116 affordable artists' studio organisations had confirmed this need, which led to the convening of a national studios forum to look at the potential of a national representative body. In 2005, supported by Arts Council England (ACE), the studios forum enabled representatives of studio organisations from across England to work together to develop the National Federation of Artists' Studio Providers (NFASP).
NFASP became incorporated as a charitable company limited by guarantee in June 2006 and operational in April 2007 with the appointment of its first Director. ACE granted NFASP three-year funding from 2008, extended to March 2012, and received an additional ACE Grants for the Arts award in 2010 for an advocacy programme 'Artists' studios: investing in creative communities', which continues till the end of 2012.
Since 2007, NFASP has significantly developed its core membership and services.
Key achievements to 2012 include:
- Developing a growing and wide-ranging UK membership
- Delivering a bespoke advice service to more than 250 individuals and organisations, including 100 different studio groups representing at least 2,000 artists.
- Publication of a wide range of resources, including guidance on aspects of setting up, managing and developing studios, a range of case studies, a toolkit and guides for planning, development and regeneration professionals.
- Two successful NFASP national conferences for over 300 individuals – including studio groups, as well as policy-makers, funders and other stakeholders, plus a range of other regional events for studio groups.
- Securing a policy commitment to affordable artists’ workspace in local authority strategies, including the London Mayor’s Cultural Strategy.
- Setting up pilot regional networks of studio groups.
NFASP responded by developing its regional networks and launching a new website better able to serve them. The future of NFASP will see a strengthening of partnerships between members, who will provide enhanced peer-to-peer support online in regional networks supported by regional studio champions. NFASP will also continue to provide a national advisory service and advocate on behalf of the sector.