Established in May 2011 by Rose Hatcher, The Fish Factory Art Space has provided a much needed social and cultural hub for the local artistic community in Cornwall. With little experience, a big idea and a lot of help from friends, she was able to transform an old fishy warehouse into a thriving gallery space, as well as artists studios.
Having grown year by year, The Fish Factory Art Space has become an integral part of the Cornish art scene and local community, making it no surprise therefore that, when they were faced with the prospect of having to relocate, people flocked to show their support.
Through crowdfunding, Rose and her team have been able to transform an empty, rectangular room into a thriving hub for all things creative, right in the heart of the community. We caught up with The Fish Factory Art Space to find out about their Crowdfunder journey and what they’ve been up to since their project closed in 2017.
Can you tell us about The Fish Factory Art Space?
We named it The Fish Factory because that’s exactly what it was – an old fish factory. In fact, it was an old scallop factory and it was totally gross when we acquired it. It had these massive, great freezers inside with scallops in that had been there for years. It was toxic waste and we had to have it removed!
Since opening, we’ve held over 100 exhibitions and more than 50 concerts, as well as yearly festivals including International Women’s Day and Black History Month. However, after six years at Falmouth Wharves, we had outgrown the current vision meaning that we had to leave this home.
We managed to find a new, long term home to continue with this important work, but needed help to secure this – and that’s where crowdfunding came in.
How was your experience of crowdfunding?
We found crowdfunding incredibly exciting. The groundswell of support was amazing! A lot of support has built up over the years from the previous premises, as we had so many people and artists coming through. It meant that our Crowdfunder project just snowballed, which was wonderful. We were stunned by how many people contributed, especially those that we’d never heard of. Why would people so far away contribute? It was fantastic!
It all revved up a couple of weeks before the project ended which led on to an opening night soon after, which was truly incredible. We had over 200 people in here and you couldn’t even get to the bar!
What impact is The Fish Factory having on the local community?
It’s an artists hub that didn’t exist before. There really is something for everyone, of all ages. We have a very open door attitude and anyone can come in and talk. The point is that it’s much more than just an arts space, but also a meeting space to share ideas.
Aside from the money raised, did you gain anything else from crowdfunding?
People donated so much of their time on top of the money pledged and it brought new people into our world too, as people shared the project with their friends (some of whom came along to the opening night!).
I know it’s discussing the money side of things again, but one really special thing that happened was that people who had already pledged came back and donated more towards the end, because they couldn’t bare the thought of it not happening.
What’s next for Fish Factory?
We’re in, but there’s lots more building work to do to make it cleaner. We’re now going over it again and finishing it off. There’s talks of running a social club, and discussion groups… We’re putting on constant events and we’ve had a lot of response from artists. There’s even a waiting list of artists for studio space!
What are your top tips for anyone thinking about crowdfunding?
You need a little team, not just one person. Build a team who understands the concept of it all and have faith in it – you need faith. I think that’s the biggest thing, because if you lose heart, then you’re just not going to do the work. Understandably, everyone goes down at some point, and you need someone to pick you up.
Don’t rely on social media. You do learn as you go along, and it was obvious that we had to pull out stops and do more. We found that you can’t rely solely on social media. It has to be everything!
• Want to know more about Fish Factory? Check out their Crowdfunder project here.