Barbican and The Trampery to open new creative centre in Hackney Wick
The Barbican and workspace innovators The Trampery have joined forces to create Fish Island Labs, a unique new centre to kickstart the careers of a new generation of emerging talent whose work spans technology and the arts.

Based in a Victorian warehouse by the River Lea, in the shadow of the Olympic stadium, the building will be home to a diverse community of around 50 emerging practitioners who are pushing creative boundaries and using new technologies. Over a period of 10 months this community will develop cutting-edge new work, covering everything from sculpture, installations and physical performance to coding, film editing and digital art. An open call for practitioners interested in applying to be part of the Fish Island Labs community can be found here.

Fish Island Labs takes inspiration from the incubation model used in the technology world and will provide extensive support for everyone who takes part in the programme. This will include talks and one-to-one mentoring from established figures from across the arts, technology and business worlds as well as workshops on issues such as intellectual property, social media and crowdfunding. There will also be regular onsite showcases and opportunities for participants to present their work at the Barbican.

The Barbican will also run regular Creative Learning workshops and projects at the lab for young, emerging and mid-career artists. These include workshops for young people aged 14-21, social events and seminars offering practical advice for artists in areas including fundraising, entrepreneurship and social engagement and the annual Curious Festival which brings together students from Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Central Saint Martins with young East Londoners.

Sean Gregory, Director of Creative Learning at the Barbican said:
“Fish Island Labs continues the Barbican’s commitment to investing in the next generation of creative artists, as well as in our long history of programming work in our Centre’s neighbouring east London boroughs. Building on last year’s successful Hack the Barbican takeover these Labs explore the increasingly blurred lines between the arts and technology, highlighting how successful models from the tech world can be applied to developing skills, talent and new ideas in the arts.”

Charles Armstrong, Founder and Director of The Trampery said:
“As digital technology opens the door to creative possibilities across an ever-widening spectrum of disciplines, we have a fascinating opportunity to bring people together from different backgrounds and practices and see what they create together. Fish Island Labs remakes the structure of a tech accelerator for the new generation of digital arts. Over the next year we’re setting out to discover the brightest new talents, regardless of background, and help them to develop their projects and their careers. It’s hard to think of a more exciting way to build on the cross-disciplinary explosion unleashed by Hack the Barbican last summer. ”

The project will be delivered in partnership with Here East, Loughborough University, Lovebox festival, Open Vizor, Queen Mary University of London , Hackney Wick Fish Island Cultural Interest Group and The Hive.

Bursaries will be available to a number of applicants to ensure the project attracts practitioners from the widest possible range of backgrounds while 15 of the places will be prioritised for people currently living or working in Hackney Wick or Fish Island. 

The City of London Corporation, the Barbican’s founder and principal funder, will be publishing on Wednesday a thought paper exploring the landscape of cultural innovation and entrepreneurship. The paper highlights London as a leading hub for culture, technology and entrepreneurship, and new ways of working that are emerging across these sectors. The paper will be available from the City of London Economic Research webpage

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About the Barbican

A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Its creative learning programme further underpins everything it does. Over 1.5 million people pass through the Barbican’s doors annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, the Pit, Cinemas One, Two and Three, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, foyers and public spaces, a library, Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory , conference facilities and three restaurants. The City of London Corporation is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre.

The Barbican is home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra ; Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra ; Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia , and Associate Producer Serious . Our Artistic Associates include Boy Blue Entertainment , Cheek by Jowl and Michael Clark Company . International Associates are Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam , New York Philharmonic , Los Angeles Philharmonic , Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig and Jazz at Lincoln Center .

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About The Trampery

The Trampery is London’s premier creator of spaces for innovation and entrepreneurship. Its unique approach fuses bold architectural design with hands-on support to turbo-charge new ideas and foster peer-to-peer learning. Each Trampery building is designed for a specific sector or community to achieve the maximum impact. Since opening Shoreditch’s first shared workspace for web and software startups in 2009 further buildings have opened in Clerkenwell and London Fields. The former hosts architecture and design firms whilst the latter is Britain’s first accelerator facility for high-growth fashion labels. Three more buildings are opening during 2014.

The Trampery was founded by entrepreneur and sociologist Charles Armstrong. Its partners include Mother, London & Partners, London College of Fashion, Hackney Community College and the Barbican Centre. The Trampery’s Patron is HRH the Duke of York.

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Quotes from Fish Island partner organisations

Here East
“The flourishing creative community in East London has been at the heart of Here East’s plans since the bid process for the legacy uses of the former Press and Broadcast Centres began before London 2012. We are committed to providing additional space and state of the art infrastructure to support this community as more creative companies establish themselves in the area. The Fish Island labs project encapsulates our ambition to create a dedicated place for individuals and companies generating the ideas and products of tomorrow. Our support for the project is another demonstration of our commitment to Hackney, and in particular Hackney Wick and Fish Island, and our desire to collaborate with local, creative talent.”
Gavin Poole, CEO, Here East

Loughborough University

“Loughborough University is delighted to be joining Fish Island Labs project. This platform offers an exciting opportunity for the School of the Arts, English and Drama students, graduates and researchers to participate in exciting collaborative projects in conjunction with the creative industries. The experience will enable us to test ideas ahead of the Loughborough University in London campus opening in 2015 at Here East and we look forward to participating in creating new digital works, establishing networks and enhancing our research theme of Communication, Culture and Citizenship.”
Andrew Selby, Associate Dean Enterprise, School of the Arts, English & Drama

“Lovebox are absolutely thrilled to be a partner of Fish Island Labs and involved in supporting the development of so many innovative artists and entrepreneurs working within arts and technology. Lovebox will be offering young people unique opportunities to develop their practices alongside industry experts; showcase their work in professional contexts; as well as provide solid prospects for future employability within their area of expertise. The Fish Island Labs play an important role in the development of, and fusion of, new arts and technology practices and we extremely proud to be part of the story.”

Open Vizor
“Openvizor is an arts organisation developing multidisciplinary collaborations in more than 15 countries. We have a history of commitment to arts and cultural life and innovation in the boroughs around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Hackney Wick and Fish Island in particular. We believe the Barbican Digital Lab at Swan Wharf partnership is a compelling and engaging platform for us to share, exchange and combine learning and experimentation in new ways.”

Queen Mary University of London
“Queen Mary University of London, particularly, qMedia and the Media and Arts Technology Programme (both in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science) is delighted to be invited to join this exciting initiative. We have worked closely before with both The Trampery and the Barbican and we know that this opportunity offers a special new way for our students, from undergraduate to PhD, to get even more involved in arts technology.”
Prof. Mark Sandler, School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

Press enquiries:
Nick Adams
Communications Manager
+44 207 382 5274