Seven Oxford University colleges will offer free space to arts and community groups in Oxfordshire as part of a new programme.
The Cultural Space-Sharing Scheme was launched at a reception hosted by Mark Damazer, Master of St Peter’s College, on 24 February. Under the programme, local organisations will benefit from facilities in St Peter’s College, Pembroke College, Lincoln College, St Antony’s College, St Hugh’s College, Hertford College, Wolfson College, the Radcliffe Humanities building, and the Careers Service at the University of Oxford.
From 1 April organisations receiving funding from Arts Council England will be able to request space for rehearsals, performances, and meetings through Oxford City Council. The Oxford Playhouse, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford Fire Station, Oxford Contemporary Music and Modern Art Oxford will be among the organisations benefiting from the scheme.
The rooms will range from traditional, oak-panelled college rooms to contemporary spaces with lots of natural light, to Lincoln College's sports pavilion.
'Community groups have always used college and University buildings, but often in quite a piecemeal way arranged through personal contacts,’ said Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. ‘I am delighted that this scheme puts in place a formal system to encourage community and arts groups to do their valuable work in rooms provided by Oxford’s colleges.'
Professor Abigail Williams of St Peter's College and the English Faculty, who organised the scheme, said: 'We hope that this practical offer of space will lead to more creative collaborations between colleges and arts groups in the future. I hope that by inviting creative talents from Oxfordshire to work within college and university spaces we will develop some long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships.'
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: 'This is a fantastic pilot partnership project which will offer great benefits to many Oxford-based cultural organisations, while also bringing high quality arts activities and events into the various participating colleges in the city.'
The programme will last for a year. If successful, it is hoped the scheme can be expanded in future to include more colleges and university buildings.