Help the ArtsBarge Project to get afloat! Posted on Sat 14th April 2012

If you visited the Arts Barge Marquee at last year's Galtres festival and liked the vibe then help them get a permanent fixture in York - a barge!

After such a huge success last summer, The Arts Barge Project now want to buy the barge itself! This unique, river-based venue in York has it, comedy, cabaret, plays, songs, artwork... you name it, The Arts Barge Project's go it! You can even get your name painted on it!

Festivals For All did like the vibe at last year’s festival and is delighted to help promote this initiative…….

The Arts Barge Project is...

A large and growing collective of musicians, artists and performers who want to buy a dutch barge to become a unique, river-based venue in York. We've been working successfully since 2008 putting on large, medium and small-scale collaborative events which get professionals and amateurs from loads of different genres and backgrounds to work together as well as mentoring young musicians and kick-starting our own in-house amateur band. This year we're focussing our For Love and Money fundraising campaign on buying the barge itself.

Why a barge?

We have no arts centre (it closed down in 1998) and no affordable 'built' space in the city to rent as a community venue. As well as that, York's river is very underused despite a thriving river-community just out of the city centre. A barge is an ideal way to create a community space at a fraction of the cost of a building - we've already been offered a prime, city centre mooring in a great location for our project to start up.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat"

We rented a barge in 2011 and put on a programme of day-in, day-out entertainment - music, comedy, cabaret, open mic, new works - plays, songs and artwork - and we also had a cafe bar selling local produce and great locally brewed beers - the run was a sell-out success. As well as that, we regularly do local festivals and 'pop-up' tours, we've got our own in-house professional band as well as our amateur Bargestra! and we're right at the centre of new creative initiatives in York. We're particularly into big collaborations - we love mixing it up in terms of genres and styles. We're supported by the local council and local businesses and there's a lot of public support for the project. Based on the success of our trial run we decided to buy our own barge a year earlier than originally planned.

What will your money buy?

Simple. A barge.

Okay, so it'll need some work but the idea is that we buy a sound 'hull' for around £5K which the community will work on alongside professional boat fitters. We've already raised over £6K ourselves and this money will be used to get the barge moved to a dry dock and undergo survey and initial works. We've been approached by a documentary maker who wants to follow the progress of the purchase and fit-out and we've identified the barge we want to buy - it'll hopefully be available for survey in late March and then for purchase some time in April. The process of fitting out the barge through to getting her moored safely is likely to cost around £70K (depending on whether we decide to go for one deck or two) and we're aiming to raise this through a combination of public funding, private sponsorship and our own fund-raising efforts. Our ambition is to launch the barge in summer 2013.

What if you buy the barge and then can't raise the money to fix her up in time?

It is a highly ambitious plan for the next 12 months but we know it's possible. Our estimate of £70K+ is what would be needed to make a 'state of the art'  venue but we'll cut our cloth according to what we raise over the next year. We've got an established fund-raising track record of our own which we will be using alongside all our other efforts. If necessary we can do a basic fit-out and then improve the interior at a later date. We can also leave the barge as a single-decker until further funds are available to add another level. The main priority is to buy a suitable hull - we're confident that once we've done that and made our 'virtual' barge a reality, raising money for the next phase will be significantly more achievable.

You can help fund the project HERE.

Check out The Arts Barge website HERE.

See the team in action again at this year’s Galtres Festival

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Last modified on: Tue 6th May 2014

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