Bon Volks – an arts space supporting the needs of the local community.

Founded in 2015, Bon Volks is a non-profit arts organisation, which operates in the spirit of common care and collective organising, and provides affordable workspaces to creative practitioners. 

Bon Volks, located in Cliftonville, currently houses 23 members working in various disciplines, ranging from creative writing, photography, graphic design, visual arts, book-arts, metalsmithing, woodworking through to environmental campaigning.

Bon Volks requires its members to be active in the running of the organisation and the care of the building. They believe that individual creative pursuit can be married with care for the collective. Individuals are also encouraged to use the building as a part of their membership, creating an opportunity to share their work with the public through exhibitions or workshops.

A group of people wearing outdoor jackets and hats gathered in a circle inside a small exhibition with pictures on a white wall
Sanctuary, an exhibition by Chris Jack November 2023

Recently, a Members Committee has been established. It meets regularly, provides support to the Studio Manager and Directors and is generally a good tool for solidifying the relationship between the Members and the organisation. The committee will develop further member-led projects, workshops, talks, social events and harness the talent present in the building.

When creating Bon Volks, it was always paramount they make it a shared creative workspace with a two-way relationship of care and responsibility between the individuals and the organisation. In that sense, the individual is not just a service user, but a partner in the evolution of the building, the safeguarding of its future and the larger vision of creating significant change in the local area. In turn, the organisation is not just the manager, but a provider of sub-market rate workspaces, supporting creative practices and providing a service to the local community.

A group of people seated round a board table
Bon Volks Members AGM, September 2023

Bon Volks is built on an ideal of common care in an arts space and aims to be an exemplar of collaborative working.

In the last 12 months, Bon Volks has undergone significant work on its governance and strategy to put in place programmes which aim to create an impact in the locality, both socially and environmentally. The aim is that the organisation and the building acts as a catalyst for change and it supports the needs of its locality. This was exemplified by projects such as the Community Alley Clear Up done in 2022 or the Swift Guardians project earlier this year.

A leaflet containing information about Swift Guardians Community Project
Swift Guardians Community Project, Summer 2023

In 2023, Bon Volks partnered with Turner Contemporary to launch the Circular Economy Project where materials used to construct an exhibition have been disassembled and repurposed for projects of social benefit. This initiative was born of a need to address waste flows in the creative sector and as a pilot to inform the idea of Margate becoming a town which ‘designs in’ circular economy thinking and more innovative ways of dealing with waste.

In September 2023, University of Sheffield School of Architecture Live Projects, undertook a feasibility study to develop the idea of Bon Volks acting as a ‘Materials Hub’ for waste materials from the creative and construction sector. The students mapped material waste flows and designed a waste materials depository and repurposing plant.

Flyer for the launch consultation event of Circular Margate

Follow the Circular Economy project on instagram: Circular Margate

Follow Bon Volks on Instagram: Bon Volks

Photographs and images courtesy of Bon Volks.


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