We are a charity and social enterprise in central Oxford. We focus on three things:
• Great art for the public
• Professional development of artists
• Building the confidence and skills of homeless people
Each of these is important but what makes us distinctive is the combination of the three. We offer a public space within which all sections of the community, including those facing multiple disadvantage, can meet, learn, create and change. We do this through our beautifully refurbished building, our growing network of people and our partnership with the homelessness charity, Crisis.
We have a Shop selling original artwork, a Gallery with a wide range of exhibitions, a Theatre offering music and drama, a Studio for all kinds of dance, and workshops for artists to make work. We also have spaces to hire for classes, rehearsals and meetings.
We share the building with Crisis Skylight Oxford– a training centre offering creative and formal learning opportunities to homeless and vulnerably housed people and a dedicated employment service which helps them find and keep jobs. The Crisis Skylight Cafe provides on-the-job training, as well as great city centre food and drink to the wider public.
Members of the public come to the Old Fire Station to drink coffee, buy art, attend classes or watch a show. Homeless people come to learn, gain skills and get support. Artists come to rehearse, create and showcase. They all come through the same door and find themselves sharing space and having overlapping interests.
The Arts are for everyone. Everyone has potential.
We turned three in 2014 – below is our retrospective report of the first three years of AOFS.