We want The Parlour to be a community asset. An open arts space on College green. We applied to Bristol City Council to turn it onto one but were turned down. We have a week to try and show them how great it could be!
Over the past three years The Parlour at 31 College Green has been occupied by us and a whole community of artists and producers. This has been made possible under the Council’s pioneering Capacity project, which provides free space for arts and charity projects in a disused council-owned property. The decision to sell the building means that we will all have to move on and The Parlour Showrooms event/gallery spaces downstairs will cease.
We lodged a Community Asset Transfer bid (expression of interest to transfer the building from a council 'commercial' asset to a community asset) but it has been declined. They have decided instead to sell the property to a commercial bidder. The plan is to turn the building into flats and offices.
Stand + Stare’s story is completely interwoven with the history of The Parlour. We came to Bristol in 2010 because we had heard about the burgeoning theatre and arts scene here, and because we knew that the council supported young artists like ourselves. Our introduction to the city was through a show, SS Arcadia, which we staged in 31 College Green as part of Mayfest. We transformed all four storeys into a cruise ship and invited our audience to board as passengers. We left no corner or cupboard untouched, which gave us a unique understanding of the building. And after just three weeks, it felt as though we had met half of Bristol and that we had firmly landed in this great city.
After the show, we gave the building back to the Council as agreed, and continued working from home. A few months later, realising the building was still empty, we went back to ask whether we might be able to use it again on a more on-going basis. That’s when we teamed up with Interval and, with the help of Ruth Essex (who was the original driving force behind the Council’s Capacity scheme) together we moved into the upper floors. We invited other artists and producers to join us and it has gradually grown and become more established over the past three years.
It has enabled us and all the other individuals and organisations who use the building to thrive and grow in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. The city and the council have utterly lived up to our expectations and enabled us to grow and begin to really flourish as a company. We now feel that we are beginning to put something back into the cultural landscape of Bristol, both in terms of our own work and the positive impact that 31 College Green has on the local area.
The Parlour has become a place where people come to find out what’s happening in the performance sector of Bristol. The artists of Bristol help to give the city its identity. The support we all receive via Rates Relief and the Capacity Bristol scheme, allows us to create the work that maintains Bristol as a thriving interesting, cultural place that people want to visit and move to.
The loss of the The Parlour and everything that happens there will have a hugely detrimental effect on Bristol’s festival culture.
So, what can you do?
. If you have used The Parlour, or attended an event here, file a comment with
Bristol City Council, with the title Save the Parlour. Tell them why the building should be protected for community use and what it means to you.
. Encourage your friends to do the same. Like and share it on Facebook and Twitter.
. Tweet your thoughts with the hashtag #savetheparlour
We have a very limited time in which to make our voices heard, so anything you can do would be hugely appreciated.