There is lots of interesting digging going on near the Weekday Cross. What’s going on?
It’s preliminary work and a detailed archaeological study of the site. From now to the end of the summer there will be some preparatory stuff happening to the foundations. This work is essential as all the city’s services, like the district heating line, run through the site and we don’t want to cause any problems. In terms of a building evolving, this isn’t the exciting bit, but it’s really important.
Did you know that there was historical stuff under the topsoil when you started?
The site has a rich history. It goes right back to before the Middle Ages. If you are developing a site for a new building its all part of the process
How long has the whole process taken?
A long time. CCAN stems from an earlier project, where Future Factory also hails from. When I came here about eight years ago there was lots of talk about a gigantic complex for contemporary and live art. The idea I got of it was a more traditional art centre with lots of things all under one roof, a performance space, a rehearsal space, a gallery etc. CCAN is quite different from this original model, it will look at a more integrated approach to visual and live art practice. It’s on a smaller site and draws upon Nottingham’s need for a quality cultural arts venue. Although it is smaller, it seems more focused and being able to present this has allowed things to happen more quickly.
With regards to including live and performance art, you mentioned that the earlier model would’ve had rehearsal and performance spaces. How will this happen in the new design?
In the earlier project there was a bit of everything. Even artists’ studios for rent at one point. There really isn’t room for that to happen here but also it’s important to note that things have changed and moved on with artists, there is now an artist led studio consortium in the city that is being developed as a separate entity. I think that it will be all the stronger for that. The live artelement is certainly still there because of its origins in the project. It was Nottingham Trent University who did the original feasibility study, coming from a more performance based perspective. Future Factory is a vital part of the project not least to represent the strong history of live practice in the city.
So what will happen to Angel Row?
Angel Row will close prior to CCAN opening. The City Council originally got involved to find out how Angel Row’s work could be enhanced. This corresponded with Future Factory’s project changing. About four years ago it was decided that it made sense to combine the two things; to enhance Angel Row and provide a much needed platform for live art. Angel Row is a building block to this, but it has to close because we need the revenue for CCAN. I have always known that would happen and am excited about bigger things and new resources. The question is, how do you close a gallery in a positive way?
So there will be a point of time when CCAN’s not quite ready but Angel Row will have closed?
We aren’t sure at the moment. That’s possible. Most gallery projects that are refurbishments or expansions, there is always a bit of time when the venue is closed. Like IKON in Birmingham or Arnolfini in Bristol. There is not an unlimited pot of money so it might need to close but the programme will definitely continue in other ways.
Do you mean off-site projects etc?
Yes. There are many good models of how other places have achieved this. The in-between bit of time could be really exciting. You are outside of the gallery walls, free from the restraints of bricks and mortar.
Angel Row has been able to support regional artists alongside ones of international standing. Ellie Harrison’s recent Day-to-Day Data is a great example of this. Are there plans for this to continue in CCAN?
Definitely. I always wrestle with the word ‘region’, it’s coincidentally great work that just happens to stem from here. There is also this thing where ‘region’ is a word used in a derogatory way to mean ‘not in London.’ What we try to do here and in other venues in the Midlands is to do something a bit different and yet still support people who practice here. The question is how do we use our national reputation to support local artists without necessarily putting a big label on saying ‘Look! Regional work!’ As with all things it depends on what the artists want. CCAN will have a range of things from exhibitions; working with artists; educational and development programmes; talks and events. All supporting people in Nottingham.