The Blue Room, Nailsea
The Blue Room arts and crafts gallery, which is run for the benefit of the community, was reopened in August 2013 by Sharon Brown with the help of a grant from the North Somerset High Street Innovation Fund. Sharon’s aim is to develop a sustainable business that benefits all of its stakeholders - the artists, the community, and other local businesses.
As a resident of Nailsea, and a recent Business Studies graduate, Sharon Brown was looking for an opportunity to use her diverse experience and recent studies in running her own business. As an existing social enterprise, in the form of a community interest company, The Blue Room offered the vehicle to explore her interest in a different way of doing business, where the focus was the local community rather than profit for its own sake.
In addition to selling arts and crafts The Blue Room offers a selection of workshops and courses. These are intended to be accessible, in terms of price and timing, filling a gap in the local area. They also provide a source of income to the teachers, many of whom are exhibitors at the gallery, and in this way The Blue Room is helping to generate local employment. Interest in the scheduled workshops is growing and a menu of Crafty Parties is also being put together to enable small groups to take part in a craft activity at a time to suit them. This also involves working with local businesses such as Parsons Bakery and Howard’s Bistro and contributes towards Sharon’s goal of generating revenue for other local businesses.
The Blue Room also offers space for artists to hold solo or group exhibitions. In November 2013 its inaugural exhibition, ‘Going Solo?’ by Ann Kelson, allowed a local, mature art student to mount her first solo exhibition at minimal cost. This brought contemporary art to the people of Nailsea, and allowed Ann to gain valuable experience managing and curating her own exhibition. It also highlights the importance of events of this nature in raising the profile of a local business, which is essential if it is to become sustainable.
Sharon’s aim is to develop a sustainable business that benefits all of its stakeholders - the artists, the community, and other local businesses. To be sustainable it needs to generate a profit that can be reinvested in the business supporting growth and development. Support from the local community and the artists are an integral component of the business model. Rather than a business run for the benefit of its owners, The Blue Room is run for the benefit of the community.