Minutes of Arts Forum meeting 16.05

Arts Forum Selly Oak Meeting Minutes and Agenda

Location: Artefact, Pershore Road

Date: 16 May 2019

The meeting was held to discuss and share information about empty spaces in the Selly Oak district, and the potential to use them as a venue for community groups, workshop spaces, community art clubs, or a mixture of all three.

I also wanted to hold this meeting to introduce the group to Open Studios Birmingham, and get them to talk about the logistics for exhibiting work in their forthcoming programme this Autumn.

Those present:


Owen de Visser – Info@artsbrum.com

Janice Ryder

Gillian Lever   glever@btinternet.com

Stu Christchurch   stu@gcdr.org

Keith Hoffman   keithhowardhoffman@gmail.com

Pete Ashton   pete@peteashton.com

Sarah/Nicki   stirchleyartroom@gmail.com

Karoline   karolinemadethis@gmail.com

Sarah Leigh   sarahlleigh@hotmail.com

Elle Hocking  ellenormayhocking@hotmail.com

Empty spaces in the Selly Oak district

There had been a conversation on Twitter regarding empty spaces in the Selly Oak district, with particular interest in the Selly Oak constituency office on Pershore Road, which stands in front of Stirchley School and over the road from Artefact café.

What was clear from the meeting was that the building would be advertised at the end of May, with a 25 year lease, and predicted £50,000 costs for refurbishment. As the site is also on the grounds of the School, the School would also have a say in what activity takes place there, and DRB checks will also be needed by anyone wishing to have a stake in the building. The fire exits for the building back onto the playground, as do car parking spaces.

If the building was to be used for workshops, they would need to be monitored carefully, and this also asked the question if all attendees would have to be DBS accredited.

There had been significant interest in the building from separate groups and factions – the first of which, Stirchley Art Room, had mentioned on Twitter that they were considering the space and others for workshops, artist studios and community outreach projects. We were also joined by a representative from Gracechurch on Dell Road, Stuart, who had also expressed interest in the site. At the moment their main hall can fit 40/50 children and 80 adults, and for them the use of space would be ideal. For a while they have been using Stirchley Baths as a venue, but their challenge would be to find a permanent space for storage.

Given that there was significant interest in the building, I believed that a face-to-face discussion should be held to get people talking together rather than online where opinions and meanings could get lost in translation. I was also wanting to find out about other buildings in the area that could be used or refurbished. Local councillor Mary Locke has been very active in investigating dormant buildings and getting in touch with landlords sitting on properties.

I found out during the meeting that the old site of Selly Oak library (opposite the Bristol Pear pub) needs a lot of repair, though the best person to speak to would be Birmingham City Council’s Library Manager Liz Parkes.

The Friends of Stirchley Library are re-developing their mezzanine floor which will fit 20 people and have access to two rooms and a kitchen.

The Cotteridge Neighbourhood Office (formerly Aimnews in the 1980s/90s) has also been dormant for a while and has an upstairs and a downstairs.

There is also an old factory unit near Hazelwell Park in Stirchley on the market for £750,000, but would need improvements on electrics and water supply

Birmingham Open Studios

We were joined by Owen de Visser of Arts Brum to talk about the new Birmingham Open Studios exhibition that will take place on the weekends of 5/6 and 12/13 October 2019.

For more information on signing up and getting involved – particularly if you want to exhibit your work in your house – please click the link here – https://artsbrum.com/open-studios/

Also, there will be a final planning meeting for those interested in taking part at the Prince of Wales pub in Moseley – please follow the Facebook link here if interested or contact Owen for more details.



The whole meeting was summed up by Sunney Sharma of Sense Arts, who expressed a desire for everyone present, and all artists and organisations to think about the artistic community, and much more of an openness to declare our needs and desires. Whether people prefer to work in isolation or collaboration, an artist based community must be able to communicate with each other, and share materials, resources, ideas and hopefully build more connections.

Next meeting TBC.

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