ONCA’s work goes on, but due to several unsuccessful funding applications including an Arts Council NPO bid, and having to leave our community venue ONCA Barge, we are unfortunately unable to maintain our gallery exhibition programme in its current format in 2023.
Preparing for exhibitions and staffing the gallery is one of the most resource intensive parts of what ONCA does, and our financial situation means that sadly this is no longer sustainable. Funding for visual art venues has been significantly reduced since the pandemic, and Brighton’s free public arts spaces have been badly hit by the Arts Council’s investment portfolio funding decisions in October 2022. As a result, we have no option but to pause our gallery programme in 2023. This is an extremely difficult decision; we recognise the impact it will have on the opportunities available to local artists, and the loss to audiences.
As we did during the pandemic, we will continue to use the ONCA gallery window for exhibitions, and will extend this space to make it more suitable for a range of artworks. We are planning a year-long programme of window exhibitions accompanied by online and in-person events in the space behind this extended window gallery, offering exhibiting artists opportunities to engage with our audiences in a variety of ways. This is possible due to the generous support of Lankelly Chase Foundation – more information to follow soon.
The venue will be available for event hires rather than exhibitions from January, and Dresscue, our weekly sewing space to make, mend and upcycle textiles will relocate there from the Barge, with 2023 sessions starting on Friday January 13, 10am – 1pm. Our Community Afternoon drop-in creative sessions will run from Belta in Whitehawk from January 13, 2.30 – 4.30pm, supported by Awards for All.
The brilliant Lydia Heath, ONCA’s gallery manager and exhibitions curator since July 2016, will be leaving the organisation in January to focus on expanding their own creative practice, freelance work and realising travel plans that the pandemic put on hold. We will miss them very much.