The Derry Print Workshop and the Arts Budget

Nestled within the heart of what has been affectionately known as Derry’s Art Quarter is the Derry Print Workshop.

Founded in 2002 by Paul Barwise, Andrew Hepburn, Julius Guzy, Colin Darke and Sheila O’Brien, the aim was to promote both the appreciation and practice of print making and other related visual arts. Since it’s conception, the DPW has become an integral part of Derry’s art community and an essential organisation to maintain the legacy of our year as the UK City of Culture.

We caught up with one of the founding members, Paul Barwise to talk about how the DPW has grown and how the devastating cuts by the Arts Council will affect the workshop.

“It was only recently that the workshop has become what we had visualised for the city, an open access workshop” says Paul. “In the beginning, there were no facilities here. There were no facilities for a fine art print workshop and the closest would have been Belfast.  There was nothing in the North West at that time for fine art print makers.”

It has been a long road for the founding members, with constant obstacles in regards to funding. “ We had to prove that this facility is important to the community and that it is for the community as well as for artists” says Paul. “We were lucky that at that time, it was through Derry City Council and the Play House that we accessed funding for a small press and we were able to set up at the old convent area that the Playhouse had at the time. From one press we started running courses right away and we were able to apply for funding for equipment and a bigger premises though the City of Culture.  The City of Culture really made the workshop what it is today.  We got new presses, digital presses, relief presses. We don’t get funding for the running costs of the workshop however, that is all membership generated.”

With fifteen members at present, the DWP is relying more than ever on money generated by membership, “ we are trying to get funding through the Arts Council, but it is so hard. We have to get projects started and get on their books before even getting looked at for running costs. But it is difficult to even get projects” says Paul.

And after the announcement of the devastating cuts to arts budget, the long term future of the workshop is now uncertain. “ It is the membership that is keeping us open” says Paul.  “The Inner City Trust has been very good to us.  We are renting this space form Creative Village Arts who are renting it from Inner City Trust and they have been keeping the rent very low for us.  But it won’t last forever. If we don’t get funding for the rent then there won’t be enough cash generated by membership to keep this place running.”

 “The Inner City Trust has been very good to us.  We are renting this space form Creative Village Arts who are renting it from Inner City Trust and they have been keeping the rent very low for us.  But it won’t last forever. If we don’t get funding for the rent then there won’t be enough cash generated by membership to keep this place running.”

With 2016 being Derry’s maritime year, the DPW had big plans. The workshop wanted to involve community groups through the running of courses and exhibitions. Also exhibiting works by members and artists while bringing on board well known residential artists. 

As Paul says, “it would have put us on the map. A push forward....but it doesn’t look like the funding is going to happen.”

“People say ‘why is all this money going to the Arts when it could be going to hospitals’ and fine, yes the money should be going there first but the Arts are so important even on that level. 

I mean, we have been running courses with Arts Care just recently and we have a good connection with them.  Arts and the Health Service compliment each other, it is a shame that they are cutting the funding to the Arts.  

Even taking the funding from the Arts which would be funding itself for the likes of exhibitions, is taking culture away from the community. 2013 City of Culture really was a 

success, the majority of people maybe would have went to exhibitions that they never would have gone to before and  enjoyed it.  

Now that is art and that is culture and if you want to live without it then don’t fund it. Fine you won’t have it...but I don’t think people can and they don’t realise the social value of it and what it brings to the economy.  The Creative Arts are undervalued and we need to make a stand and this issue needs to be addressed.”

The two do indeed go hand in hand. The various courses and workshops that take place on a daily basis throughout the country in care homes, charity organisations, hospitals, cancer care centres, mental health centres and crisis centres show just how valuable the arts are. 

As Paul says, we need to make a stand.

 

How to get involved:

Can anyone become a member at the DPW?

You need experience at print making, if you can produce a portfolio showing your experience in print making you can become a member after an induction day.  If you have no experience then you need to attend an introductory 3 day course for beginners before applying for membership.   Print making is quite technical, but once you have the basics then you can play with images.  Health and safety is a big issue, you need to know how to work the equipment safely.

What classes are available?

We are starting introductory courses end April start of June costing £120 which is a 3 day introductory course to print making and this fee includes materials, one-on-one tuition and run from 10am-4pm.  There is currently a program being put together for more advanced courses such as relief printing. Usually 2 or 3 day courses. We need 6 people per course for the course to run.

Are there any up and coming exhibitions?

There will be one in June at the bottom of Shipquay Street called the Social Enterprise Hub Gallery and look out for the Maritime exhibition in 2016, that will be going ahead with or without funding.  We will be putting on a series of events based on maritime as 2016 is the maritime year for the City of Derry.

How can people get involved?

Contact the workshop on 028 71308152 and ask about our courses or check out the website www.derryprintworkshop.co.uk. Also, keep an eye out for the DPW’s new website which will be selling limited edition pieces  www.derryprintstudios.co.uk.

Features

Signup for our mailing list

Follow Us: