Bradford Creative Workspace Needs Analysis Report

March 2024


Publication date: March 2024​

Report author: Rosie Freeman, Creative producer, artist & organiser


The lack of secure and affordable creative workspace in Bradford is a significant barrier to the creativity, growth, and sustainability of the sector. This is regularly and frequently acknowledged yet we have been missing data to back this up and to better understand the needs of the sector.

Consequently, Bradford Producing Hub (BPH) commissioned this short needs analysis from a set of survey data, plus additional information from 1-2-1 conversations with other practitioners and organisational representatives.

In addition, we spoke to and gained input from strategic partners, including Bradford Council, East Street Arts and Bradford 2025. This document has been compiled by Rosie Freeman (freelance), working alongside Alison McIntyre and Lisa Mallaghan (BPH) and other members of the BPH team in early 2024.


Most survey respondents are currently ‘making do’ with workspaces which are not fit for purpose. Conditions include spaces without lifts or ramp access (inhibiting physical access as well as creative practices which involved heavy goods), poorly ventilated spaces, spaces without heating and natural light, insufficient home-working setups, ‘borrowed’ or in-kind setups, cafe working, spaces which aren’t lockable, which don’t have running water, are damp, and/or are too expensive. But more than anything, respondents identify the insecurity of temporary spaces as having a negative impact on their work.

For many, ‘meanwhile’ offers such as those facilitated through East Street Arts and Skippko have provided much-needed workspace but on a temporary, insecure lease (e.g. two-week notice periods to vacate) which has restricted their long-term planning, fundraising, community and wealth building, audience development, and placemaking. On the positive side, these spaces have been affordable, allowing for those with low disposable income to have space, and the legal administration has been taken care of by a facilitating agency.

In some instances, ‘meanwhile’ spaces have become increasingly established cultural infrastructures, where organisations have invested time and money, e.g. Common Wealth at Common Space, or Displace Yourself Theatre at The Place. However, many of these will soon be lost due to redevelopment, leading to wasted investment and increasing the demand for creative space.

East Street Arts are keen to continue to work with Bradford’s creative sector - they are currently playing an important role in securing a new, permanent, space for Keighley Creative. However, they also report facing barriers in contacting and liaising with landlords to open up new meanwhile use spaces.

A concerning proportion of Bradford’s established cultural organisations need new homes urgently or within the next 2 years including Allstar, Bradford Music Education Hub, Common Wealth, Cecil Green Arts, Displace Yourself Theatre, Impressions Gallery, Shipley Print Studio, Tranquil Productions.

Several potential new buildings and spaces have been viewed and discussed as part of this needs analysis and scoping exercise, including potential permanent and meanwhile-use spaces:

  • 26 Piccadilly (potential use by/for Bradford 2025, and 2026+ legacy)
  • Sackville St (potential commercial let)
  • Bingley Town Hall (medium-term meanwhile-use feasibility study underway with CBMDC)
  • Kirkgate Centre (meanwhile-use - existing East Street Arts supported spaces and remaining empty units)
  • Bradford Resource Centre (scoping underway)
  • Properties in the Heritage Action Zone
  • Other empty spaces above shops

Developments that are already underway have not been included in this research, such as Keighley Creative and Bradford Arts Centre (formerly Kala Sangam). It should also be noted that there have been some excellent examples of successful creative developments over the past 15 years, including South Square Centre, Mind the Gap, Salts Works, and Wharf St. Studios. While these existing and new developments help meet the need to some extent, the demand identified far outweighs the capacity that will be provided.


To have a full picture of the findings, we recommend that you download the full report. Below is a summary of the findings:

There is considerable potential for the development and increased impact of the cultural sector across the Bradford District.

Solutions need to be sought for the sector, with some urgent needs due to the imminent displacement of organisations due to changes in the District led by Bradford Council and private landlords.

Meanwhile-use spaces remain useful, but the sector also urgently requires more permanent, fit-for-purpose space to achieve its full potential.

Organisations and individuals in the Bradford District are looking for spaces with four key characteristics:

  • Flexibility - multi-use, accessible by different people at different times of the day and week
  • Inclusivity - access via lifts and ramps, rates are affordable to include those without significant disposable income
  • Community - people want to be connected, part of a wider network, generating local economies that will invested back into the city
  • Sustainability - long to medium-term leases which allow people to build their practice and community


The key recommendations in the report include a need to:

  1. Connect creatives and organisations with existing initiatives and opportunities, such as Heritage Action Zone and Business Improvement District.
  2. Make use of local expertise - for example, Mind the Gap, Bradford Arts Centre (formerly Kala Sangam), South Square Centre, People’s Property Portfolio and Assembly Bradford have all led capital developments and have existing practices and business models that could be shared with the sector through advice, training and consultancy.
  3. Make use of regional support - for example, East Street Arts has offered to negotiate leases with landlords, connect with Future Arts Centres, and No Space Left To Play.
  4. Actively introduce people who have similar interests in space - there’s strength in numbers.
  5. Directly support collectives who are ready to take on leases on fit-for-purpose spaces - e.g. People's Property Portfolio and Cecil Green Arts - and provide training, funding and mentoring to enable other people to take on space successfully.
  6. Bring together those with funds - City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (CBMDC), CBMDC Music  Service, Bradford Producing Hub (BPH) and Bradford 2025 to discuss this report and make a detailed action plan.
  7. Act with urgency - the cultural sector is being relied upon to deliver not only the successful UK City of Culture year but also deliver significant cultural change for Bradford, as outlined in ‘Culture Is Our Plan’. This flourishing part of the Bradford economy must be appropriately supported and enabled, through securing fit-for-purpose, long-term ‘homes’ that will strengthen our organisations, increase audience reach, and secure long-term impact.

Read more Resources

Needs Analysis

Joint Cultural Needs Assessment

In March 2020 BPH commissioned Anna Franks Consultancy to conduct a Joint Cultural Needs Assessment of the Bradford district.

Year 3 Evaluation Report

“There is a magic about Bradford you rarely find in other places and dreams have room to flourish here.” Creativity Council member
Needs Analysis

Then and Now: A reflection on Bradford’s Joint Cultural Needs Assessment

An update of reflections and considerations on the original JCNA commissioned in March 2020.

Latest news and events

View our latest news and events

Skip to content