Saturday, 30 July 2011


The Common Academy will be opening it's doors this coming Thursday. Here's a flyer that I've been dispersing.

Really nervous about it all now, fingers crossed!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Website goes live!

Take a look at the brand spanking new website:

On there you can see the timetable, as it currently stands, and all the information you'll need to visit and participate. And it's my first ever website. A momentous occasion.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Sneak Peek

I am working at the moment on fabricating a website that will give you all the information you need to know about visiting the CAA. Here is a quick preview of what's to come:

Click here for Big View

I'm only a beginner at all this web design malarkey, but for all the skills I do have I must thank the web design course at Brighton City College run by Kevin Halsall. If you want to learn the basics it's a reasonably priced introduction.

(I've just noticed the mistake in the 2nd paragraph on the site, it is corrected now)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Riding the wave

Some things I've seen recently that are good:

Image: Dan Thompson
An article on the BBC website showing just how good social projects in empty shops can be, featuring wise words from Dan Thompson, leader of the Empty Shops Network and Workshop 1a.

Image: Piccadilly Community Centre
A temporary Community Centre in Piccadilly, seemingly turning an empty office into a community centre, but all is not what it seems. The community centre is running until July 30th with loads of free classes and activities every day. Take a look at the website to book a place or just pop in to see what it's all about.

Image:  Folly for a Flyover & Assemble CIC
A pop-up space that is literally popping up- that which was empty is now full. Making use of an unused space underneath a flyover in Hackney, Folly for a Flyover is hosting loads of interesting things throughout July.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

What might be happening?

Here are a few of the things that could be taking place at the Common Academy of Art in August:

'I Can't Draw' Drawing Class

Pin-Hole Cameras: Make, Expose, Develop

Tie-Dye Tea-Party

Quick and Easy Mono-Printing

Life Drawing: for beginners and beyond

Youth Drama Workshop

Film Nights: feature films, local film making talent and unusual surprises

Flavour-Tripping Cocktail Bar

Magical Puppet Theatre + Worskshop

... and? Got any ideas? You don't need to have done it before, the project is all about making opportunities and we welcome anyone and everyone.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Floor Plan

I popped over to Workshop 1a last week and took a few measurements. Here is a plan of the space. It's pretty big. They have 50 chairs and lots of trestle tables. So many possibilities...

The garden is also rather spacious (it extends beyond the edges of the square suggested in the plan).

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Propose to me

Amazing! Wow! Jeeze-Louise!

Here is the form with which you may submit ideas to the CAA.

Application Pack and Form (please download it to view and fill out. It looks odd on Google Docs)

There is information in there about what we're looking for and tips on places you can source materials from. Please pass it on, around and everywhere.

Please note the following things:

  • The CAA is a not-for-profit event. All events will be free of charge for participants.
  • The CAA is predominantly an art school, with the emphasis on interaction and participation. However, installations and exhibits that will make it a more exciting venue are very welcome. 
  • You don't have to be from the Shoreham area to take part, though if you are travelling from somewhere else you will have to pay for your own expenses.
  • Don't be afraid to suggest something. No idea is a bad idea.
Application deadline: 10th July 2011

Seems that bullet-pointed lists are trés de jour on this blog.

Speech! Speech!

Here is an email I have sent out in search of people to give talks at the CAA. Please read, copy and forward.

The Common Academy of Art will be a temporary art school popping up in an empty shop in Shoreham-on-Sea this August. The timetable of the Academy will be composed of activities proposed and led by anyone with a great idea. Thanks to a bursary from American Express and other fund raising activity we are able to fund materials and equipment to facilitate all sorts of ideas. Mornings and afternoons will be mainly aimed at children, young people and families, whilst the evenings will be reserved for screenings, talks and more grown up classes. 

I am looking for anyone who would like to give a talk or presentation during one of the evening sessions. Talks can be as long or short as you like - 5 minutes? 2 hours? - and be on any subject. We will have projection equipment and WiFi available too. 

As the Common Academy of Art is an art school talks on visual art, literature, media, music and performing arts would be fantastic, though please don't feel limited to these areas. Local history, travel essays, arts education, the current issues faced by the arts, empty shops and regeneration, craft, gardening, the day you met 5 people called Gladys. Anything! If you have an idea for a talk that could interest, inspire, inform and/or entertain then I'd love to hear it. 

The Academy will take place over five days, from August 3rd to 7th. Although I can't offer payment for contributors I can pay for travel costs and hopefully an interesting and unusual evening.
If you would like further information about the project or want to propose an idea then please email me at You can also keep up to date with developments on our blog, and follow us on Twitter, @commonacademy


Come talk! I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 23 May 2011

New Logo

As you can see at the top of the page, the CAA now has a logo, carefully made with the help of some potatoes.

Some exciting ideas are being suggested and formulated for the Academy's timetable, and there will be a form available through which to submit your ideas very soon.

Some things to note:

  • There is funding available to support any ideas you have.
  • The content of the Academy is limited only by our imaginations! Talks, workshops, screenings, installations, tea parties, glow-in-the-dark owl assisted sugar sculpting...
  • The Academy is not just for kids. Daytimes will be focused at families, children and young people, but the evenings will be reserved for the grown ups. Things can get a bit more intellectual, or naughty, or silly, in the night times.

Until the website and form goes live feel free to email me at with any thoughts and ideas.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Full steam ahead!

It is decided.

The Common Academy of Art
3rd - 7th of August
Workshop 1a
1a New Road, Shoreham by Sea

Now that the space has been found and dates set it is time to fill the timetable of the CAA with many a wondrous thing. I am going to create a website that provide you with all the information you need to submit ideas for activities that could be held at the Academy.

Workshop 1a is very spacious, and has a large main area, double fronted shop windows, a smaller workroom upstairs and a lovely outdoor space. So get your thinking caps on and start thinking up ways of using this wonderful space.

Thanks to Amex and other fundraising activities we can provide funding for materials and other things you might need to turn your ideas into a reality.

How very, very exciting.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Beautiful People

I have finally got around to scanning in some of the wonderful 'face-to-face' portraits drawn at our fund raising event, Pen & Paper. With only a week to organise I was very pleased with the £140 that was raised, and all the contributors made the event truly special and unique. A big thank you to Anna, Nick, Luke, Ellie Harman, The Wolf Larsens and Cosmo Sheldrake.

And so!

The Brighton 'property mafia' (as I've heard it described during my investigations) are particularly elusive. I still walk around the city and see many sadly empty buildings, and the numbers seem to be increasing. However, an opportunity to hold the CAA in an empty shop outside of Brighton has arisen, and hopefully this is what will go down.

Workshop 1A is run by the Empty Shops Network, wonderful people spearheading the empty shops movement. Located just off Shoreham High Street, it was once an empty shop like many others.

But after much hard work and cleverness it has now become 'a temporary, flexible and informal space' available for use by the community.

This is the kind of thing I really want to get involved in and perhaps have a hand in crating more of in the future. At the moment I feel like I don't quite have the experience to set up an empty shop project from scratch all by myself in Brighton, but hopefully if the CAA can find its first nesting space in Shoreham then it will be wonderful and there will be more wonderful things to follow.

Watch this space...

Thursday, 10 March 2011

'Look Out... Look In' - Moukhtar Kocache

"I imagine our sector rebuilding its alliances with social movements to regain its historic place at the forefront of ideological and social mobilisation."
"On a basic level, this means demystifying our arts institutions, rendering them more transparent and accessible; even, perhaps, re-imagining the use of our spaces and facilities." 

This morning I am reading an interesting essay written by Moukhtar Kocache for the Arts Council England in which he considers the relationship between the arts and government, society and policy. In 'Look Out... Look In', Kocache suggests that the priorities of the free market, 'efficiency, profit and growth', have come to shape and restrict the position the arts hold within our world.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Pen & Paper: Saturday 5th March

This coming Saturday I have organised a fund-raising event.

Pen & Paper,
Saturday 5th March, 5pm-11pm,
The Green Door Store,

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Empty shops make up 14.5% of town centres

In this article from Property Weekly, property experts give their opinions of the changes faced by high streets and retailers across the country.

Matthew Hopkins, director of The Local Data Company, points to the problem that many smaller retail units in local shopping areas are 'not fit for the purpose of modern retailing'. Professor Barrry Gilbertson also recognises the desire of big brand retailers for larger retail units that can compete with the large stock holdings of their online competitors. This shift towards retail parks and shopping centres, and away from high streets, has left 'a lot of vacant shops which will never be replaced'.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Proposal Document

'The scope of activities at the CAA is limited only by our imaginations. They could last for the whole four days, or just 30 seconds, aimed at toddlers or 80-year-olds, use the entire space or occupy a cupboard. We will be looking for proposals that challenge traditional modes of learning, that inspire, confuse or excite, that are inclusive and inviting, that restore a sense of magic and discovery to our city.'

I've written a proposal document that can be downloaded will explain in more detail the structure and goals of the project.

Please have a look at it to find out what the CAA will be all about, and feel free to pass it on and show it to anyone who you think would be interested.

The Common Academy of Arts Proposal (<- click)

Rays of hope... (a nice photo to brighten things up)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Queen's Square, Brighton

A bright future awaits.

I admit I have never walked up the road between Dyke Road and Queen's Road that is apparently called Queen's Square and was the home of Brighton's ice rink for 30 years before its closure after an arson attack in 2003.

According to the Brighton and Hove News the site has been sold to hotel developers who are expected to make a planning application in six months time. Perhaps in the interim period, if it's safe to do so, they'd like to house the CAA in their new acquisition?

Perhaps... off for a peek tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Locations and properties

I'm trying to work out what I want from a location, and what is feasible.

The main considerations I'm trying to work out are whether to look for somewhere slap bang in the centre of town, or further out, and whether we should aim big, or keep small.

Thoughts on each so far:

Potential for high footfall- shoppers and tourists. Easier to convince people to make the journey to come. Basically, lots of people. However perhaps harder to get them to stop and look around, pause and explore.

Further out:
(Such as London Road, Lewes Road, Portland Road) It would be nice to take something out of the centre, into a community. Also potentially cheaper. Less passing trade but maybe better potential to engage with the community.

A lot of space would obviously enable a wider range of activities, and the chance to have a number of things happening simultaneously. It would be great to be able to seat at least 30 people for talks or screenings, have a bar area, and workshop space. I would also love to be able to hand out space to other organisations to use.

Much easier to organise, cheaper, less to do! It would force us to use the space very carefully. Less people needed, though whether that's good or bad I don't know. Basically easier, but less exciting.

I suppose a lot will be decided by what properties are actually available. I need to make contact with some agents and landlords, which is a scary prospect. Any advice or contacts would be hugely appreciated. Please contribute your thoughts in the comments if you have any.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Media Coverage

Last Friday I appeared in the Argus, along with the two other winners of the Amex Bursaries. Well done to all of us!
At the moment I am writing up a detailed plan, and hope to attend some local business networking events with it in the hope of meeting some helpful people, and potentially some landlords/estate agents who'd like to work with me in my quest for a location.
The cogs are in motion.