We are in the thick of plans for an artist-led hotel and cultural hub in Birmingham. It’s been a slow burner. Negotiating with developers, speaking with investors, maintaining momentum publicly, holding onto our principals of ethics as we enter this new sphere - it is a LOT to juggle. We won’t be conducive to gentrification, displacement, “artwashing ” or anything else that exploits people. Having to navigate around this is what makes the process even more challenging, but we will continue to be deliberate about this.
When it comes to the premise of our proposal, it is surprising that the region hasn’t picked up on the opportunity to experiment with accommodation before now. But the concept isn’t new. In fact, we know it works in other places - there are similar models developed all around the world, where hospitality is being reimagined with arts and culture at the centre. Here are 5 culture-led residence projects inspiring our plans:
nhow Berlin. Described as Europe’s first ever music hotel, nhow comes with recording suites, music managers and hotel staff who are also music college graduates. Given that Berlin is one of Europe’s art and music industry centres, the hotel reflects and contributes to the cultural ecosystem. The hotel features 303 standard and superior rooms, with the upper two floors floating over the River Spree serving as dedicated music and sound studios.
Patch House. Established by Sour Patch Kids with sites in Brooklyn, Austin and Hollywood, these houses were created with artists in mind, as an alternative to cheap hotels, friend’s houses and airbnb accommodation that artists are accustomed to while travelling. Artists who stay at the house are expected to create some content that Sour Patch Kids can share across a number of digital channels. In addition to laundry facilities, full kitchens and backyards, the residences include plug-and-play recording studios and installations by local visual artists.
Art Hostel Leeds Art Hostel provides creative affordable and unique accommodation, designed by artists, in the heart of Leeds city centre. It is a social enterprise by East Street Arts who have been supporting artists locally and internationally for over 25 years. Art Hostel contributes to the experience of visiting and staying in Leeds, which has a thriving independent and grassroots scene, encouraging visitors to access the artistic underbelly.
4. Green Rooms London A social enterprise arts hotel, offering affordable accommodation in a beautiful setting in the heart of Wood Green, London. With several events spaces, a restaurant and bar, the space was set up by Nick Hartwright, whose company The Mill Co Project has a history of establishing artist studios and workspaces. Green Rooms also offers rotating residencies for London’s aspiring restaurateurs.
5. Urban House Copenhagen A hotel-hostel hybrid with flexible, communal spaces that come alive with public activity. The space is a rich, multi-use site and part of Copenhagen’s thriving nightlife. There’s even an infamous “hangover lounge”. Urban House comprises of individual rooms as well as shared dormitories, constantly bringing together eclectic groups of people
Crucially, we know there are clear artistic, social and economic cases for making this type of provision work in Birmingham. The time is now - so lets build this thing!