Case Study | Resort Studios / by Tim Ratliff

Resort Studios was one of the first public sector projects we’ve been involved in with multiple funders, multiple clients, a non-negotiable programme, multiple occupants and an opening by HRH Duchess of Cambridge. So a first of many! We thought the blog would be a good moment to reflect on the journey, provide some brief info for those who might be starting a similar project and share an experience with those who are keen to know more.

Resort Studios is a brilliant young arts organisation set up two years ago. It hosts creative’s from loads of different backgrounds: illustration, printing, art, jewellery design, fashion, textiles, photography, set design, sculpture, mixed media, product design, architects etc. It is a pretty unique place because of the relatively open plan volume and their focus on collaboration and diversity. All of this is housed on the first floor. At ground level there is a Gallery & Project Space which hosts events, shows and is available for hire too.  

The funders were looking for an organisation to host a new Creative Work Hub – a space for co-working, showcasing and networking. At full capacity and regular requests for studio and desk space, Resort Studios was in a strong position with room to grow into three inaccessible rooms on a mezzanine level and a gallery and project space which needed some love. The design brief was to bring these spaces into use and create some more.

The budget was divided into two parts: service deliverables (events, management, marketing, furniture & IT equipment) and capital works (the building works). It’s not the most exciting diagram but the responsibility matrix below really explains the set up we had with the funders and the clients. There were 3 funders and 4+ clients. Resort Studios is run by 4 directors but they operate as a co-operative so we had to present all key decisions to the members for feedback. This continued throughout the build keeping them informed of potential disruptions and safety requirements.

 Responsibility Matrix

Responsibility Matrix

To add to the complexity I (Tam) also act as Company Secretary for Resort Studios and with vital input from the Directors and members we put together the winning bid to secure the funding. So I worked as Architect, Contract Administrator & CDM-C for the building works and also as Bid Manager to facilitate the service deliverables. This was supported by the Directors, a Bid Delivery Team (made up of 3 members from Resort Studios) and also Stacy Keeler who came on board as Studio Manager half way through the bid. DREAM TEAM.  

The service deliverables were as follows: 7 major events; end user workshop and survey; promotional campaign; new website, mailing list, newsletters and social media; launch event; monthly peer-to-peer support & networking events; engagement with other EU funded work hubs across the UK. We were finally engaged to begin this project Mid-September. The deadline for completion of building works was 14th February 2015 and service deliverables 31st March 2015, giving us 6 months to complete.

Carrying out building works whilst creative businesses are still in operation is pretty tough given the amount of dust. There were also a number of ‘power down’ days and at times intermittent internet which tested everyone’s endurance but we had no complaints, although a few grumbles! This is in part due to keeping the members informed of the process and sending frequent emails keeping them up to date. Fortnightly meetings were held with the funders and project supervisor and on opposite weeks with the Directors and Bid Team. Whilst I am not a fan of loads of meetings this worked well and meant we could monitor progress – essential to keep the funders relaxed and supportive. We also kept updating the programme so we could flag up any issues.  

There has to be a large amount of thanks to G.W. Gardner, the building contractors, who delivered on time. This was an achievement after having to go to tender twice. The first lot of tenders came in wildly different and all over budget. After stripping back to the essentials of what we needed to deliver whilst maintaining the integrity of the design we managed to get it on budget the second time around. Not ideal given the already tight programme but necessary due to the more rigid EU procurement guidelines. Having navigated through the EU requirements and accustomed ourselves to this type of procurement and the language that goes with it, we feel ready to do something like this again, dare I say it on a short delivery too! It is really rewarding to go from an idea to completion in less than a year, results materialise in front of you and you feel an amazing sense of collective achievement. We had a brilliant working relationship with all the parties involved – a can-do attitude, a willingness to deliver and a serious amount of optimism for the future of Resort Studios.

Give us a call if you’re thinking about embarking on a similar project, we’d be more than happy to take you through our experience or be part of your team.