Been there, done (some of) that:

These FAQs have been compiled and gathered by The Showroom Projects to offer peer support. We arrived at our answers by listening to our peers, consulting the Bristol City Council arts team, and by asking ourselves, ‘what did we learn from running The Parlour Showrooms?’

I have an idea for a performance/event/exhibition, now I need a space to test it out, where should I start?

Research. Have a look at the projects and spaces that have both existed and continue to exist, look at models of best practice, refer to the further reading suggested below and we recommend seeking advice to make a comprehensive business plan.

Your plan might include details on the following:

  • Projects objective.
  • Details of roles within your team; artists, project manager, marketing, finance etc
  • Income streams, funding, and project budget.
  • Proposed timeline for the event.
  • Documentation and evaluation strategies.

A really useful resource is Empty Spaces website:

Is the Capacity scheme over?

Yes, there is no longer the resources within BCC arts team to administrate and project manage the Capacity scheme. However, itʼs legacy continues to positively impact Bristolʼs creative ecology, so the effects can be seen and felt throughout the city.

Do BCC own any buildings which I use for short term use; for an exhibition, an event or a performance?

As part of the legacy of the Capacity scheme, currently there are two spaces which BCC have made available for cultural practice in the city; Redcliffe Bridge Control Room, and The Edwardian Toilets on Park row. For more info on how to use these go here:

I have found a building which looks like it is empty, and it would be perfect for my project, can I just contact the Landlord?

This is a tricky one, because as you can imagine it doesnʼt do anything for landlord/artists relations if individual artists are always calling them to ask if they can have the space for free. So, as a community we have to tread carefully, see Empty Space toolkit for more info:

Can I contact individuals/companies, to ask about how they delivered the project in a temporary space?

Yes, most individuals/companies are happy to offer peer support. Bristolʼs artistic community are very generous when it comes to sharing experiences. Itʼs great to make the most of this whilst also valuing it and contributing to it.

How can we find out about all the properties that a council owns?

BCC have a list of all their properties, for sale or for let here:‐bristol/commercial‐property . Every property has downloadable details which includes contact information for the contact officer dealing with that property.

What is discretionary business rates relief? And how can I/we get it?

All businesses are legally required to contribute Business Rates to the local authorities/state. Discretionary business rates relief, allows local authorities, if they wish, to provide additional rates relief to charities, community amateur sports clubs and not-for-profit organisations. Following a 100% overspend, BCC have revised their criteria for eligibility for DRR, so now all organisations need to apply for DRR. BCC are also keen to encourage organisations to only apply for DRR as a last resort, see here for more details:

The new system implemented will see DRR reduced significantly over the next few years.

New application forms are available here:

If you want to know more about DRR and its impact, take a look at this report which informed the recent developments:

Why did The Parlour/The Parlour Showrooms close?

Bristol City Council properties team were under pressure from central government to create revenue, these targets were partially achieved by selling some of ʻtheirʼ assets. 31 College Green (The Parlour/The Parlour Showrooms), was one of those assets. BCC decided to retain ownership of the ground floor shop units for commercial rent. The Parlour residents challenged this decision by submitting an Expression of Interest for a Community Asset Transfer, which would have seen the asset transfer into ʻourʼ name, for community use, securing it for the future. This EOI was rejected by BCC, though conversations continued. The Parlour residents have since moved to top floor of The Exchange at St Nicholas Market, a BCC owned building, which BCC are leasing to The Parlour on a ‘peppercorn’ rent.

How do you make a temporary space more long term, and more stable?

Take a look at Lifespace Artspace (link) as an example of models of best practice and check out the Locality website for info on Community Right to bid and Community Asset Transfers. We also found The Ethical Foundation, based in Bristol, helpful for advice:

We want to write a business plan, where can we go for support and expert advice?

We are lucky to have two really good (and free) resources in Bristol which offer business introductory courses:






We found there was a lack of specialist business arts advice in Bristol, so perhaps think about approaching individuals in the arts and culture sector, with a view to asking them if they would be your business mentors.

Do we need public liability insurance?

If you are running a ʻpublicʼ event, then you/your company are liable for any accidents caused to the public on your site. Public liability covers you from any claims made against you, usually for up to 5 million. So, yes public liability insurance is very important, and recommended. AN run a really good membership/public liability deal for artists:

There is a lot of talk at the minute about having partners, how important are partnerships?

For funding purposes they are very important, because they show that there is a sustainable infrastructure supporting the project. Partners also reveal a company’s ambitions for the future, their ethics, and current shared concerns/research. If partnerships are based on sound working relationships and mutual benefits they can make all the difference.

Where can I get funding for a temporary/meanwhile use project?

In Bristol try looking at Creative Seed Fund by BCC arts team:


Nationally, the list is extensive, we suggest you start by looking at project funding opportunities:


-Arts Council; Grants for the arts




-Private; Charities and Trusts


Also we recommend thinking about the wider issues your project or organisation is involved in eg; sustainability, technology, health  and look for funding that supports those issues rather than just pure arts funding.

Where can I rent exhibition space in Bristol?


– Coexist (Hamilton House):


– The Island:


– Mivart Street Studios:


– BV Studios:


– Meanwhile Creative:


-Centre Space Gallery:


-Grant Bradley Gallery:


-BCC (Control Room and Edwardian Toilets):


Old market seems to be a dynamic and ʻup and comingʼ area, who should I contact about trying to find space in that part of the city?


Leighton De burca is the Place Maker for this area, his team are keen to welcome creatives into the fold, so get in touch:


Something missing from this list?

Please do email if you have a helpful addition.

The Made City – FAQs submission

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