O N C A July 2020 Update

We're back!

Dear Friends,

The O N C A team is back at work, mainly working from home. Despite the uncertainties of COVID-19 and the implications for our venues, it’s great to be back.  

It’s not yet possible for us to open the ONCA Barge or the Gallery for exhibitions and gatherings, so we are developing and expanding our programme of online events and projects. We therefore feel that the best way to use our resources at this time is to explore how we can use ONCA’s digital platforms to continue our work alongside the people and communities we work with. We are also reviewing how we can display artwork using our gallery window space and support closed door activities at our venues such as artist residencies.

Changes at Our Venues

Despite the easing of lockdown measures and the Government announcement that galleries could reopen from 4th July, we are not opening the interior of ONCA Gallery, ONCA Barge or our meeting room to audiences or hirers this summer. This is due to several factors that make opening our venues in a safe and manageable way extremely challenging:

  • ONCA is managed by a small part time team, and we rely heavily on volunteers to help us staff our spaces. If a volunteer or staff member displays COVID symptoms and they and other team members need to self isolate, staffing the building may not be possible meaning we would need to close and subsequently cancel bookings at short notice.
  • We want to mitigate against any localised outbreaks and a second wave of the virus, which would result in us having to close our venues again for an unknown period of time.
  • We anticipate visitor numbers will be much reduced whilst the virus is present and whilst people continue to exercise caution by keeping social contact to a minimum.
  • The additional workload generated in order to comply with guidelines around making our venues COVID-safe for staff, volunteers and visitors would significantly impact our ability to deliver the work we do at a time when our capacity and resources are already severely compromised.

Changes at ONCA Gallery

As long as COVID-19 remains a significant risk, we will use the front of the gallery and the gallery window to host adapted exhibitions that are viewable from the street. We will host fuller digital exhibitions with accompanying events and resources online. Please note that we will not be accepting any new exhibition enquiries or proposals at the moment.

Changes at ONCA Barge

We can’t re-start our community mornings on the Barge yet, but while we assess how to use the venue in ways that are safe in terms of COVID-19 transmission, we are exploring other ways in which we can connect and support our community. 

Upstairs at ONCA

We are re-opening our co-working spaces gradually, and continually reviewing the situation.


As you may know, ONCA relies on money raised through the hiring of our venues to fund the delivery of our creative and educational outreach projects. With the closure of our venues, we’re facing a period of uncertainty and financial vulnerability.

Therefore we invite you, as a supporter of ONCA, to please sign up as an ONCA member and help us to keep going. Membership starts from £2.50 per month and every penny goes towards enabling us to continue to create space for creative and positive change. We’d appreciate any help you can give.

Thank you!

Last but not least, we would like to thank you for your support during the lockdown, and thank the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Arts Council England, Brighton & Hove City Council and Ritelands Property Company for their invaluable financial assistance.

We look forward to seeing you online very soon!

In solidarity at this difficult and unprecedented time,


The ONCA Team

Image Credit: Alex Sedgmond / Under the Skin