Eastleigh’s latest creative hub – The Sorting Office – was launched last week by world famous designer Wayne Hemingway MBE – the founder of iconic brand ‘Red or Dead’.
The Council is leasing the town’s former 1920s sorting office – which lies behind the Post Office in the High Street – from Royal Mail who shifted their sorting and delivery operation to the Airport and Boyatt Wood some years ago. The new workspace has been specially adapted to support arts-based businesses and is already home to more than a dozen artists.
“The Sorting Office is an exciting project which gives the creative community a low cost opportunity to build up their business with specialist help and support.
“I was lucky enough to have opportunities to work from affordable premises in the early days of my business and it really helped us to get established.”
The Sorting Office is part of RECREATE, a €2million economic regeneration and development project backed by European funding agency Interreg.
Interreg aims to nurture and grow creative businesses and is made up of 16 French and English partners, one of which is Eastleigh Borough Council, who received £120,000 from the fund for the project.
The initiative has also received £79,426 funding from Arts Council England and last year received £150,000 of capital funding from the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) to convert the building.
The council are keen to stimulate the local economy – previously reliant on manufacturing and now retail – through ‘creative industries’ i.e arts and crafts and new media businesses.
Cheryl Butler, Head of Culture at Eastleigh Borough Council said:
“This project is a real collaboration between the arts, creative industries and economic development, putting creativity at the heart of the regeneration of Eastleigh’s town centre.”
The Sorting Office is home to 16 studios and work units 14 of which are already occupied, plus a production area to make large scale items such as theatre sets and sculptural pieces.
Residents include a children’s illustrator, textile artists, costumiers, a leather accessories designer and a stained glass and mixed media artist.
Local arts charity ‘a space’ arts who specialise in providing supported workspaces for artists and creatives will manage the space on the behalf of Eastleigh Borough Council.