East Street Arts was founded by Karen Watson and Jon Wakeman at East Street Mills (Leeds) in 1993. It took reference and inspiration from the history and current developments within the artist-led movement. Studios were developed at the site alongside professional support programmes for artists.

The first public exhibition took place in 1994 in two temporary empty shop units underneath the railway arches in Leeds city centre.

In 2000 East Street Arts moved to Patrick Studios, the site of St.Patrick’s Social Club – a former boxing club on St.Mary’s Lane in Mabgate. With a capital grant it renovated the building with Leeds architects Baumann Lyons to create 34 custom designed artists studios and facilities.

In 2010 East Street Arts developed a strategic approach to linking temporary or empty spaces to artists and other creative practitioners and this launched the In Situ Programme. Since then East Street Arts has moved in and out of a wide range of spaces across the country including Grade-A offices, night clubs, warehouses, retail units and post-civic spaces.

The response artists and other creatives have to these spaces is continuously surprising as is the quality and range of work, events, discussions and workshops that East Street Arts has had the privilege to be part of.

East Street Arts became an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation in 2011 and is a registered charity.

For more information about East Street Arts, why not watch the video below for a talk from one of the East Street Arts founders Jon Wakeman.