Less than three years ago, O N C A wasn’t much of anything. It was an idea, no more, and a small one at that. But as if by magic, O N C A has somehow managed to migrate from an idea into a gallery and now into the O N C A Centre for Arts and Ecology. By taking over an additional three floors in our beautiful Grade II listed building, we have made another exciting step in our charity’s future.
It’s been a heady few months, as we have completed a full-scale building refurbishment powered by extraordinary volunteers, love and sheer determination. Over two thirds of our paint was donated by New Life Paints, a local company that recycles unwanted paint. Wood was donated by Brighton Festival and Freegle, and bought from the Wood Store, a social enterprise across the road from ONCA. All furniture was donated, reclaimed and refurbished by the team – powered by the insatiable kindness of organisations and people including Nanadobbie, Cat Fletcher, Helen Cann, Gary Mart, OnRequest and England at Home. We have LED lighting, funded by British Gas in order to improve our energy efficiency. And we have smatterings of artwork throughout, such as a beautiful screen print by Kittie Jones, or James Eddy’s fish sculpture entitled ‘A Great Migration’ (as featured in our 2013 exhibition ‘Making Tracks’), in our new meeting room, reminding us of all the wonderful projects and artists we have been associated with since our formation.
So now, here we are. Our new Centre opened on the 31st May. Above the gallery, work, studio and meeting space is already playing host to an eclectic and inspiring combination of businesses, charities, freelancers, artists and designers. It is our unique ecological ethic that underpins the initiative. We have a strong sustainability policy that includes recycling, composting and low energy usage, in addition to an ethos that promotes widespread, positive change. For us, environmental well-being is holistic. It encompasses everything from biodiversity and energy to economy, human health and technology. And by bringing together an interdisciplinary mix of people, we hope that the ideas germinated within the O N C A Centre for Arts and Ecology will play a key role in the creation of a more positive future for us all.