currently closed (opening times)
In this section, we want you to tell us about your organisation. We’d also like you to tell us how you plan to lead and manage your organisation, and how you will lead and manage your proposed programme of activity during the funding period. Please select whether the primary focus of your application is contributing to at least one of the Outcomes (NPO) or supporting thesector to embed one or more of the Investment Principles (IPSO)
“Turf Projects is one of the most exciting & dynamic spaces in the UK. With an exciting programme across exhibitions, learning & artist’s development, Turf represents a clear example of the impact artist-led organisations can have on communities. I wish there were more Turf Projects!” Harold Offeh, ArtistTurf Projects is Croydon’s homegrown art space. As young creatives from the borough, we found there weren’t enough opportunities for us & our communities to get involved in arts & culture. We set out to change that, founding Turf in 2013. Our core aims are to provide opportunities & resources for underrepresented, emerging & low income practitioners & to create accessible routes for the public to get involved in arts & culture, at all stages of life and experience.From our space in an ex-retail unit in Croydon’s Whitgift Shopping Centre, we:
“Turf Projects is […] founded by a young team who are personally committed to the area, dedicated to supporting its community. Turf are indicative of a wave of socio-politically engaged, and ethically minded young artists entering the field with a civic focus […] Turf’s education and community engagement are intrinsic founding principles.” Morgan Quaintance, e-flux
Turf is the only dedicated visual arts gallery in central Croydon. Our space in the shopping centre is ideally located for those with access needs & visitors who haven’t engaged in art before. Although inextricably rooted in the borough, we have a national reputation as innovators in arts & culture, asked to speak about our work at Tate, the RCA, ICA & featured in the New York Times & Independent as at the forefront of changing trajectories in the sector.
Turf is & has always been female-led, founded & run by locals. Progression into creative careers through working at Turf is common, with staff taking alternative vocational routes to higher education, volunteers & collective members progressing to roles on our team & Board, including a former Art Press member now lead facilitator. Our team has relevant lived experience as artists, locals & of living with disabilities & neurodiversity.
Our programme has been pioneering in widening access into arts within our local area, delivering high quality projects often supported by NLPG on time & on budget. Since 2019 over 13k people directly engaged with our work visiting exhibitions or taking part in workshops. In 2021:
18.2% of participants identified as having a disability, +11.6% since 2017 (vs 14.1% of the Croydon population);
0-15 & 16-24 age groups increased by 21% & over 45s by 12.4%;
22% identified as global majority, +8% since 2017;
46.4% were repeat visitors (+28% since 2017) & at least 43.8% from Croydon.
During the 3 months of opening post-pandemic we exceeded our pre-Covid audience levels by 20%.
Our direct digital connections are over 15k, +8k since 2017. During 2020-21 we retained over 50% of digital audiences through online & hybrid events & our online workshops were particularly popular, so we now continue to offer a hybrid event model. Our website, designed & built in-house, mirrors the interwoven programme with artists, events & projects all interlinking across the site.
Our major projects incorporate a series of workshops & events that provide accessible routes for those who may not have engaged in arts & culture before. Family Art Fun Days, activity guides, audio-described & touch tours, artist talks & creative workshops all explore the projects’ ideas & processes, developed in collaboration with the lead artists. Around 50% of visitors engage with us via these events & over 25% of our visitors since 2017 had visited galleries a few times per year or less. In particular, young children & their families who participate have become avid return visitors & have shown work at Artist Feedback Sessions.
We have a longstanding collaboration with MOSS, a local learning disabled artist collective, & Art Press, a collective of local artists aged 13-18 for whom we host & facilitate peer-led programmes. Acting as incubators to enable creative & professional development progression routes, members often return to lead workshops & go on to further study in higher education. In 2021 over 25% of MOSS members received paid commissions.
“I feel like it’s a dream come true & people at Turf really support me, help me feel relaxed, & build my confidence. Art really helps me to learn & I love that wonderful feeling of inspiring other people & sharing with others.” MOSS collective member
We have prioritised accessible approaches to programming in the last 4 years through our Access Lead, & have since been trained in access by Heart and Soul & Disability Rights activist Barbara Lisicki. We invite local arts orgs to experience this training with us for free, which we plan to make a regular offer. We’ve since used our training to plan an artist-led & social model of disability approach, to consider antiracism, gender equality & the Equality Act in all our planning & delivery, & to design ways to capture our accessibility track record.
Through the support of access-dedicated volunteers our facilities are more collaboratively designed by artists with lived experiences, focusing on the user- led & prioritising requests from local audiences.
Our partners include Club Soda, National Autistic Society, Croydon Vision, Croydon Council Placemaking Dept, Friends of Park Hill Park, Museum of Croydon, Artquest, Croydon School of Creative Arts, BRIT School & multiple local primary, secondary & SEND schools. In 2021/22 we joined The Exchange programme, pairing peers from different creative networks across the UK.
We’ve provided over 500 artists to date with paid opportunities, many of whom identify as low-income status. We often work with artists at the start of their careers, who have gone on to become accomplished professionals e.g. Holly Hendry, Jasleen Kaur, Adham Faramawy & Lauren Godfrey. We encourage cross-pollination between early-career artists & those more established e.g. Harold Offeh, Alice Channer & Ima-Abasi Okon.
During Covid, we saw the impact our space had on individuals’ & communities’ sense of belonging & in connecting people together who usually might not otherwise have crossed paths. With Croydon Council’s financial situation pushing local services into heightened precarity, it felt urgent to interrogate our relevance to the community we inhabit & work in ways that are responsive to what local people need. In 2020/21 we undertook an in-depth collaborative review, examining the relevance of our programming, organisational structures, processes, model, & spaces in collaboration with artists, studio members, collectives, our Board, and locally & digitally connected audiences. As a result:
-We adapted our approach to major projects, setting targets to commission more local artists (at least 50%)
-We tested a new way of working via a pilot project ‘Propagate This’, shifting from just exhibitions to a more collaborative environment for generative recovery. It generated a wealth of dialogue about our local area, urban regeneration, accessibility, decision-making & the role of art within it.
-We revised our structure & processes, switching to 3 CoDirectors mutually agreed by the team, working to diversify our income streams & using technology & shared skills to streamline processes.
-We diversified the use of our spaces to reflect visitors’ needs post-pandemic, as many were not coming solely for exhibitions but also via workshops, facilities & support structures e.g. advice, resources & solidarity.
-We added new step-free access studios & offered free use of our space to other local orgs in need of space & visibility.
-We waived studio fees during lockdown & offered a peer-led online studio alternative, which was praised by the Cultural Workers Union as an ethical, imaginative response.
Turf has always been female-led; 73% of senior management & Board identify as female or non-binary. We have 3 CoDirectors; Becky Atherton, Holly Graham, & Jhinuk Sarkar.
Our CoDirectors have 30+ years of shared sector experience with a range of expertise in curation, public programming, education & community engagement, access, working with diverse audiences, marketing, fundraising & development, & facilities management. 55% of management & Board identify as neurodiverse, 36% as having a disability & 45% as Black, Asian, Ethnically Diverse.
By 2023 we’ll have diversified our Board & management to reflect the 50.7% of Croydon’s population who identify as Black, Asian & Ethnically Diverse, taking into account the predicted increase to 55.6% by 2025.
We have a Board of 6 Trustees who meet quarterly. Meetings are minuted with an agenda, addressing our financial reports, risk register & within NPO, reports against our Outcomes/Activity & Investment Principles (IPs) plans. Our Board contributes expertise in project management, access, finance management & the charity sector. We’ll be increasing this membership to 8-10 in 2022, to expand the breadth of expertise particularly in the areas of fundraising, property & the law; recruiting via open calls. To ensure the charity’s operations are transparent & accountable, conflicts of interest are a standing item on the Board agenda; assessed & minuted where cases arise.
We also have an Advisory Board which currently includes members of Art Press who are unable to join the Board of Trustees due to age restrictions. Our constitution will be formally reviewed & updated at the next Board meeting in June 2022. As of 2022 our Board has 3 sub-groups:
-Programme, Access & Audiences: overseeing the programme, ensuring we meet audience & access targets. Reviewing planning & goals to identify risks. Overseeing our Equality, Staff & Safeguarding related commitments & policies. Responsible for assessing Ambition & Quality, Inclusivity & Relevance.
-Finance & Legal: Financial & fundraising oversight, accountability related to budgets, cashflow & restricted funds. Overseeing insurances, legal & finance related policies. Responsible for assessing Dynamism.
-Development & Spaces: Facilities & commercial development with a key goal of ensuring the most sustainable model for Turf financially, spatially and environmentally. Overseeing leases & H&S policies. Responsible for assessing Environmental Responsibility.
Each sub-group has a Trustee lead supported by a CoDirector & relevant staff. We plan to expand our Advisory Board ahead of 2023 according to sub-groups so community advisors can be involved in a targeted way. The sub-groups meet every 1-2 months to check in & document progress, feedback, & identify risk factors & mitigations to be implemented (feeding into our risk register). The Board is also responsible for overseeing our policies on Safeguarding, Equality & Diversity including Anti-Racism, Conflicts of Interest & a Trustees’ Code of Conduct, H&S, Data Protection, Financial Management & working with Volunteers.
The assessment of the Outcomes & IPs would be worked into these sub-groups, to be reported on & assessed in quarterly Board meetings, with progress related to the ACE funding agreement included within the papers. We’d undertake essential training of new toolkits & reporting requirements for this, as laid out in the Investment Principles Plan. To ensure reporting & accountability processes are achievable & complementary to everything we do, we’ll integrate NPO reporting into existing processes as follows:
-Work the IPs & Outcomes into our project planning & evaluation documents.
-Using custom fields, incorporate IPs & Outcomes reporting into our existing Asana project management system (which allows us to collaboratively manage projects, tasks & goals across the team in a transparent way).
-Use new technologies to automate duplicate processes where achievable. Since 2020 we’ve already taken steps to implement this with support from Digital Culture Network.
-With support from the GLA’s Culture and Community Spaces at Risk Programme, we’ll build on baseline data & mapping as part of Croydon Council’s research for Borough of Culture planning. Mentoring from Brighton-based ONCA & new toolkits, e.g. Julie’s Bicycle CG tools will be added to our monitoring & reporting processes in order to cement our environmental responsibility ambitions. Management & artist fees are calculated according to A-N guidance 2022 & Artist Union England’s Rates of Pay Guidelines. Our team has a non- hierarchical structure, with all staff paid equivalent to the same day rate & all involved in key decisions. We have maintained a consciousness that under this structure accountability processes become even more important, so our small team:
-Conducts a digital weekly check-in on key goals & staff wellbeing.
-Meets quarterly for a collaborative assessment & planning sessions.
-Undertakes annual 2-week collaborative reviews.
Our annual reviews also involve a review of policies & processes to identify & evaluate new structures & systems which could improve our efficiency, quality & relevance. Since 2020 they’ve been open to anyone who wants to get involved. We are aiming for a pioneering level of transparency & from 2023 as part of our DEMYSTIFICATION year we’ll further document & evidence these processes for digital audiences, adding a new layer of public engagement & accountability. We are currently all working on a freelance basis. NPO status would mark a significant positive change in enabling us to set up our full team on PAYE, responding to the need for longer-term stability & inclusivity for staff by incorporating paid holiday, Access to Work support, sick pay & maternity leave. Providing more security for the team will allow us to focus on our programme, impact & future.
We have an excellent track record of gathering & responding to feedback, audience development & reporting, embedded in the developmental & public- facing aspects of our work since 2015. We gather feedback both offline & online from:
-Artists & collaborators post-project & subsequently once per year to track ongoing progression.
-Our peer-led collectives MOSS & Art Press termly.
-Regular space users – studio members & hosted organisations, who are central to developing plans for permanent space.
-The public – in person & online, visiting exhibitions & workshops.
-Our team during reviews. We use automated processes to aggregate audience data across digital & physical audiences. All our data is held in GDPR compliance & a data protection policy is updated annually.
We’ve been offered a 3-year extension to our lease from Jan 2023 which will take us through to 2026. To mitigate risks of rising overheads as an organisation with physical premises, in Q2&3 2022 we’ll recruit additional Board members with financial & facilities management expertise.
£180,000 per year [we received £120,000]
Cultural Communities, Creative People
Please tell us what percentage of your programme of activity you expect will contribute to Creative People: 50
Please tell us what percentage of your programme of activity you expect will contribute to Cultural Communities: 50
During the pandemic many of our repeat visitors (particularly those more vulnerable & digitally excluded) expressed deep concerns about the future, whilst affirming how our space has provided a beacon of hope, reliability & care throughout the past 2 years. We want to continue to serve our audiences in this way beyond the pandemic, ensure our work is even more rooted in our community & vice versa, & cultivate links with creatives over longer periods than our temporary spaces allow. Sustained support from ACE will be transformative in enabling Turf to take further concrete steps towards these goals. It will mean we can fully embed Let’s Create into our programming & approach. It will mean we can do what we do, better & do so in a way that enables staff, artists & partners more time & opportunity for experimentation, creativity & care.
Over the funding period we’ll divide our annual programming into different strands of creative development, to help translate what we do into a clear framework for those outside the organisation to understand & learn from. These strands – SOW, GROW, CULTIVATE, & PROPAGATE will be foundational to the activities we deliver, tying into our programme themes of DEMYSTIFICATION, PERMANENCE & LEGACY:
-Early stage creative development with families & schools. Alongside Family Art Fun Days & activity guides for children & families to get creative outside of school, we’ll develop our longstanding relationships with local schools e.g. The Link Secondary & Robert Fitzroy Academy via visits & workshops engaging Croydon pupils. It’ll be an integral part of each main project.
-Supporting local creatives aged 13-18 as part of Art Press to develop new creative skills & demystify pathways to a career in the creative industries. Working in collaboration with MOSS, Croydon Vision & Art Press alumni, participants will learn new ways of making, both traditional & innovative. The work will culminate in public showcases each year.
-While creative opportunities are vital for artists, there’s a demand to demystify aspects of the sector that act as a barrier to pursuing a creative career – something we’ve long been advocates for addressing. We’ll continue to provide early career support & development via practical workshops & free/affordable resources to ensure artists have the tools to begin & sustain a creative career. In 2023, we’ll deliver these under ‘organisational development’ to support starting & sustaining creative projects. We’ll offer this provision in a more flexible way via unstructured bookable ‘surgeries’ to meet audiences’ immediate needs.
-We’ll build on our existing work with MOSS to provide support & opportunities for traditionally underserved disabled audiences to get involved in art & develop creative careers. We’ll support members to cultivate their own confidence as a collective & as professional artists, with agency to plan & lead on projects. MOSS workshops will align with each of our major public projects, exploring themes determined by participants. The collective will reciprocally visit & skill share with national partners e.g. ONCA & Soho Radio.
-We’ll cultivate interest in arts & culture from those who haven’t engaged before through audience mapping & providing accessible routes in their local area.
-Through our major projects, we’ll give emerging artists the skills, experience & confidence to go on to propagate opportunities for themselves & others.
-Open to the public, we’ll create opportunities to meet visitors where they are, both physically & at their level of prior engagement in culture.
-We’re committed to commissioning 50% local artists, prioritising those on low income & without traditional arts education backgrounds, & to making our commissioning process transparent to the public.
Our activity for the funding period will explore: DEMYSTIFICATION, PERMANENCE & LEGACY. It’ll build on 2022’s theme TESTING GROUND, which shines a light on the processes of developing work, offers space & time for collaboration, & supports artists longer term. It’ll also be the stepping stones for establishing Turf in a new, permanent home:
2023 is a pivotal year for Turf, as we deliver our role as one of 3 Culture Hubs within Croydon Borough of Culture & celebrate our 10th birthday. Now is the time to take a more creative, collaborative approach to our town’s future; exploring how we can truly co-author activities & spaces that are responsive to our different communities.
During its lifespan Turf has been growing alongside a regeneration narrative in Croydon. We’ve discovered a lot of obstacles to participation in how decisions are made about our borough; obstacles that mirror those often found within arts & culture. Our programme for 2023-24 will focus on dissolving barriers to access; deciphering & translating difficult concepts; facilitating transparency within often opaque structural systems; consulting with our neighbours about what they want & need from cultural & community spaces; & lobbying for genuinely community-led, collaborative decision-making processes for driving changes that can fundamentally shape & alter our lives.
Magical, joyful or humorous experiences & environments create an ‘ease’ to collectively demystify disparate experiences of the world. In FLUORESCENT BALL-PIT SQUIDGY WORLD, 3 artist leads will work with young locals & isolated over 65s on new space-based, playful & interactive commissions – a format popular with our local community, effective in reaching audiences who haven’t engaged in arts & culture before. Developing a new space for resting, playing, & being; the project will highlight & reframe resources such as our reference library & tactile materials archive. We’ll work with both old & new collaborators, e.g. Croydon-based design studio Dust London, Fungus Press contributor Ruth Beale & Turf studio member Katherine Smith.
DESIRE PATHS is a satellite arts festival working with creative practitioners across formerly disused spaces in Croydon, connecting artists & communities to the decisions made about their local spaces. The activations will focus on creating long-term impact, involving practical support to build skills & networks that leave communities better equipped to engage in decisions made about their locality & develop cultural opportunities within that. We’ll partner with GLA’s Culture & Community Spaces at Risk Programme to provide upskilling workshops for community initiatives in the borough, to build their sustainability & secure their future in Croydon. We’ll engage partner schools in making creative outputs, addressing important questions with humour & curiosity. To further encourage legacy, there’ll be a practical application, e.g. a framework for developers, a resource for communities to understand town planning, a manifesto, or a series of protest boards.
WETPAIN is a group show curated by Brazil-based artist Wisrah Villefort in collaboration with Turf. Spanning a range of media, including print, installation, & performance, the exhibition will consider strategies for navigating Western space, culture & language for individuals of non-Western heritage. The project will establish relationships with international artists & their networks, expand local audience access to international art by global majority artists, & engage in dialogue with local diasporic communities. We aim to see a corresponding increase in global majority audiences during this exhibition & beyond, in line with our goals to better reflect the demographics of Croydon.
2024-25 PERMANENCEWithout stability, artists & creatives-particularly those underrepresented-are not able to develop pathways into the cultural industries where they live & make meaningful long-term connections with the communities around them. Turf is fundamentally rooted in Croydon & committed to the borough.
We want to lay down roots for arts & culture in Croydon beyond ‘meanwhile’ & build the foundations for a long term legacy within our community. In the latter half of 2024 we’ll begin the process of co-creating a permanent cultural space for Turf in Croydon, building on initial research & community consultation from the previous year. Our gallery space will act as the factory for this process, inviting the public, artists, architects & town planners to come together for workshops, collaboration & creation to build the foundation for a permanent home in the community.
We’ll establish a community advisory group & deliver a series of workshops with creatives & activists. Together we’ll create a community-led timeline, action plan & capital fundraising schedule. New writing, videography & audio will be co-authored between the Turf team & collective members to engage digital audiences & involve them in the process.
The final funding year will see our plans put into action. Informed by our work within the community, we’ll mobilise ourselves with the right tools, training & expertise to start securing a new home for Turf. The artists & audiences we support in 2023-25 will influence the exhibitions & projects we run in 2025-26, reflecting the needs & desires of the people we work with.
We’ll revisit our roots through a series of small-scale interventions in temporary public spaces around the borough, using food as a way to connect people & places. We’ll support primarily local artists, new connections, long-term studio holders, collective members & workshop visitors. We’ll reflect on the legacy we have created in our 12 yrs of operation, revisiting the impact of past projects in a broader context across our audiences, organisation & the wider borough, while looking to our future as an organisation on its journey towards a permanent, community- created space. As our 1st NPO term draws to a close we’ll explore what our legacy will look like in the latter half of the 2020s with a public collaborative review.
Est 2013, Turf is Croydon’s homegrown art space; free exhibitions & workshops, studios & collectives run by creatives for creatives. Find more about us here ( ･ิ ͜ʖ ･ิ)
Click here to give us your feedback.
46-47 Trinity Court, Whitgift Centre, Croydon CR01UQ. For detailed visitor info, click here.