Find out how Castlefield Gallery has increased its attractiveness to partners and customers by clarifying the value it creates for the visual arts sector and the city.
Introducing Castlefield Gallery
Founded in 1984, Castlefield Gallery is a gallery and agency in Manchester developing emerging contemporary artists and practice.
Castlefield Gallery runs a programme of exhibitions from its city centre public gallery space, as well as hosting regular artist talks and events. It supports artist development there and in pop up spaces. It also delivers artist development programmes for other organisations.
Curated projects present new art by emerging and established artists, often working with independent curators and partners.
Castlefield Gallery, a limited company and registered charity, is free to attend and open to all. It owns its city centre venue thanks to Arts Council England capital lottery funding in 2000.
In 2012 Castlefield Gallery lost its regular funding from Arts Council England (ACE). Responding to this, with ACE support, its business model has adapted significantly.
It has since regained funding and is part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio for 2015 to 2018. It is also a cultural partner of Manchester City Council.
A period of reflection and redesign led to a model that was to some extent driven by ‘survival and finances’. Organisational development funding was already in place and supported a new business plan based on making greater use of the organisation’s strengths.
The Business Model
Following a temporary loss of Arts Council funding in 2012, Castlefield Gallery’s business model became much more focused on services supplied to artists and partners than on provision of a programme of exhibitions.
To make this model work Castlefield Gallery had to improve its advocacy urgently. It needed to understand and express its value to potential partners and supporters. It is now much clearer on the key functions and value created by Castlefield for the visual arts sector and the city. It began to tell what Director Kwong Lee calls ‘a bigger story about the gallery and its impact - moving beyond simple measurable statistics’.
This ‘bigger impact’ positions the gallery as part of the research and development function for the visual arts sector. It is about more than individual artists’ practice or
putting on exhibitions and related programmes and this is valued by customers and partners.
Customer Segments include ‘cultural investors’ like Arts Council England. They also include groups such as property developers that have an interest in the city centre being a vibrant and creative place.