Dates : 2006 – 2007
This site on Cheltenham Road had been empty for over five years and fallen into a serious state of disrepair. Possibly the biggest site we had ever taken on, this multi-level car garages complex became a multi arts venue and housed the epic Invisible Circus site specific promenade performance ‘The Road To Nowhere’.
An eyesore for the local community and a serious problem property in terms of site security and illegal activity the old garages complex had become a social black spot in the neighbourhood with drug dealing and prostitution visible in the surrounding lanes and alley ways and needles piling up the the hallways of the main building.
The front doors to the site were eventually left unlocked and you would regularly see kids going in through the main building which illegal scrap metal salvage had left in seriously dangerous condition.
The rear part of the site was a 4 storey car garage with ramps connecting floors which was what was attracting younger kids to indoor skating and graffiti painting, this was obviously a big attraction so rather than just put a stop to this we actively encouraged it, but only once the building had been made safe.
A group of around 15 local artists and performers got together to secure and manage the site and opened negotiations with the owners who were just about to spend £40,000 to try to secure it once again. Due for sale and redevelopment in six months it was agreed the site could be used as a short-term arts resource until its sale later that year (saving the £40,000!).
With just over £1000 donated by the artists the site was pulled back from the edge of dereliction and The Bristol Arts Trade Centre was established as vibrant and dynamic arts events space for summer 2006.
The Audi Garages became an iconic project and served to inspire a whole movement of creative community engagement across the city as well as laying the foundation stone of Stokes Croft as a cultural quarter.