To join NFASP, go to the Join page.
What membership category is right for me or us?
Please read the information about categories of membership on the Join page. There are three categories: Studio, Individual and Network. If you need further advice, please contact us.
We are a studio organisation but do not wish to become a member of the NFASP. Can we still get advice?
We are able to provide general advice if you are not a member. However, for specialist advice you will need to be a member. You can also register on our website.
We are primarily a gallery/arts education/community arts centre, but have some studio spaces for artists on site. Can we join?
If your studio provision meets the eligibility criteria for membership, you may join. Please check the information about membership categories and eligibility on the Join page.
About affordable studios
What is an affordable studio provider?
An affordable studio provider is a group or organisation that manages buildings, or parts of buildings, providing low-cost studio space to non-commercial artists who are generally on low incomes.
This provision supports artists at the basic level of production enabling them to sustain their practice and make a significant contribution to culture, education, and society and to the well-being and sustainability of local communities.
For example, affordable studio providers in London charge rents which are, on average, one third of those for similar space on the open market.
Alongside the studio space, many studio groups and organisations provide support and resources for artists and the wider public. These include programmes of changing exhibitions, project spaces, residency programmes, open studio events, professional development programmes for artists, media arts facilities and education and outreach programmes involving diverse communities.
What is a non-commercial artist?
A non-commercial artist is one who makes art work primarily for its creative, cultural, intellectual or philosophical value, rather than its commodity value.
How much is an affordable rent?
The NFASP 2010 survey of the affordable studios sector showed that the average ‘inclusive’ rent for a studio nationally was £6.80 per square foot, per year. The average ‘inclusive’ rent for a London studio was £9.72 per square foot per annum. For many artists a weekly ‘inclusive’ rent of £50 is the maximum they can afford. (Go to Resources/NFASP Reports & Statistics for the 2010 NFASP Survey Summary).
What is an inclusive rent?
An ‘inclusive’ rent is a rent that includes insurance, repairs and maintenance, business rates, caretaking and management – all costs except electricity. Wifi might also be included.
Why do artists need affordable studios?
The vast majority of non-commercial artists do not earn enough from their art practice to be able to afford a studio at open market rents in addition to a separate place to live. Many artists support their practice by working in education, training and community development, encouraging innovation and creativity across the social and regeneration agendas. If artists are to continue to be able to provide maximum cultural and community benefit, they need space in which to work, at a rent they can afford.
Do artists' studios pay business rates?
Many affordable studio providers have charitable status enabling them to claim 80 per cent mandatory business rate relief. The charity pays rates for the whole building rather than each studio being separately rated. Artists pay an ‘inclusive’ rent which covers all costs including rates, but not including electricity. In some cases, studio organisations with charitable status receive 20% discretionary rate relief in addition to the 80%.
There are also instances where not-for-profit studio groups and Community Interest Companies have been given rate relief, but this is entirely at the discretion of the local authority.
Find out more about business rates in NFASP's Resources section - Managing and Developing Artists' Studios.
For details of rate relief (80% mandatory and 50% small business rate relief) go to Business Link.
How many affordable studio providers are there?
The affordable studios sector in the UK comprises some 144 organisations, managing over 252 buildings, providing 5,450 studios for almost 7250 artists. These figures are taken from the NFASP 2010 survey of studio groups and organisations across the UK (Go to Resources/NFASP Reports & Statistics for the survey summary).
Aren’t there plenty of affordable studios available on the open market?
There is workspace available, but not at a price and on terms that most artists can afford. Research in London has shown that commercially available studios are more difficult to find and offer less sympathetic terms than studios in the affordable sector. Furthermore, ‘inclusive’ rents are likely to be three times as expensive as those in the affordable sector, making them beyond the reach of most artists.
How do we know if there is a demand for artists’ studios in our area?
Some local authority arts or cultural services departments keep a record of expressions of interest. Some may have undertaken an audit of workspace needs in their area, often in relation to creative industries audits and strategies, or could help set one up. Many existing studios groups and organisations maintain a waiting list of artists wanting space. However, it is also the case that artists will follow the provision of space, if it is appropriate and affordable. Studios create demand.
Developing artists' studios
Is there a specification for artists’ studios?
The space requirements of artists vary depending on the nature of their practice, but the average studio size is around 265 to 350 square feet. There are additional basic features that should be provided, including good ceiling height, natural light, unfettered walls, 24-hour access, good general accessibility and security.
How do I get further information on developing artists’ studios?
The NFASP can advise you or put you in touch with other organisations or specialists who can advise you on your particular situation. You can also read our wide range of Resources.
What is the optimum number of studios in a building to ensure that a studio development is sustainable?
This will depend on the particular situation and costs involved, but 20 to 25 studios should provide sufficient critical mass to enable the development of a viable business plan, and to ensure an appropriate and supportive environment within which artists can work. Buildings of this size offer an economy of scale in terms of management and running costs.
We have an empty building available for three years. Would an affordable studio provider take it on?
This will depend on a number of factors, such as the suitability of the building, its condition, lease terms and cost. Given the right terms, a studio provider may be willing to manage it. However, this type of arrangement will not bring any real benefits back into the area. Artists will not feel secure in their practice and will be reluctant to commit themselves to developing relationships when they know they will have to move on. A long-term, renewable lease or new-build studios would be a better option and provide better value for money in the long-term.
Is it possible to mix artists, craftspeople and creative enterprises in one development?
Yes, it is possible to have a mix, but there needs to be a range of prices and, ideally, the affordable space for visual artists needs to be ring-fenced to avoid rents being increased and artists priced out when demand for space grows. The traditional business growth model does not apply to non-commercial artists whose working practice is very different from that of many creative enterprises. Non-commercial artists are likely to need an affordable studio for much of their working lives.
How do we ensure that studio organisations provide public benefit?
It is important for artists to have a private, self-contained space in which to work, but there are ways in which studio buildings can offer opportunities for public engagement. Many studio organisations take part in ‘open studios’ events whereby members of the public may visit artists’ studios once or twice a year. Some organisations have a separate space in which they promote public exhibitions of contemporary art. Some run residencies or programmes of education and outreach activity involving diverse communities, on their own premises or within the local community. The majority of tenant artists of all studio groups are involved in exhibition, teaching and public projects outside their studios.