KARST completed an extensive refurbishment before reopening in July this year with the Plymouth Contemporary 21 open exhibition.
Occupying a 7,000 sq. ft. industrial unit, the gallery is a more accessible and environmentally friendly space ahead of hosting the British Art Show 9 next year.
The gallery and studios now have increased physical access and an energy-efficient heating system, meaning the building can remain open throughout the year. In addition, there is zonal lighting, increased insulation, and better use of natural light.
KARST worked with LHC Architects to create a phased capital development programme called Unlocking Creative Space (UCS) that will shift the gallery and studios into a new period of sustainable growth. The renovations conclude the first phase of the UCS plan.
A new accessible entrance and disabled access platform lift at ground floor level provide first floor access for the first time for wheelchair users and those with young children in pushchairs. In addition, a fully accessible and DDA compliant toilet is available.
KARST Executive Director Donna Howard said the improvements would increase operational time and programming capacity, attracting more artists and major exhibitions.
She added: “For the first time, we will operate as a cultural space that is both physically and visibly accessible to all. We believe everyone should enjoy culture. These improvements ensure that we remove the physical barriers to participation and are accessible and welcoming for all.”
The refurbishment of the space includes double-glazed windows and doors to allow natural ventilation, increase thermal performance and improve comfort levels. The works will simultaneously provide a more stable and secure environment for showing contemporary art. Environmentally considerate design, such as the use of more natural daylight, has also been incorporated.
The gallery received a grant of £270,000 from the Arts Council’s Small Capital Grants funding programme, which focuses on providing organisations with the proper facilities to produce and present great work. The fund enables organisations to develop resilience and become more sustainable businesses.
The Arts Council grant brought the total investment in the project to more than £400k. Other generous supporters of the project are Garfield Weston, Foyle Foundation, The Box, and Plymouth City Council (PCC).
The gallery reopened on 7th July as a co-host for Plymouth Contemporary 2021 alongside the Arts Institute and in partnership with The Box.
The exhibition is free, with no booking required. Open Wednesday-Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm.