As Pride Month 2021 blossoms across many parts of the world, Queercircle, the LGBTQ+ led cultural charity, has announced a public crowdfunding campaign to open a new dedicated permanent space for LGBTQ+ artists in the UK. 

The new cultural venue, launching this winter, is designed by David Kohn Architects. It will comprise a main gallery, a library and project spaces, with an annual programme of boundary-pushing physical and digital exhibitions, commissions, residencies, education programmes and events. Sited in the new Greenwich Peninsula Design District, Queercircle will be at the heart of London’s first permanent, purpose-built hub for the creative industries. 

Aerial render of Queercircle’s new home for LGBTQ+ art in the Greenwich Design District 

Curator, filmmaker and Queercircle founder Ashley Joiner conceived the idea in response to the staggering loss of artist studios in London, with 50 per cent of LGBTQ+ venues shutting their doors during the last decade.

Joiner tested the waters for a permanent space by hosting workshops with artists, curators and community organisers. ‘The participation of the community in these exploratory workshops has enabled us to lay strong foundations and develop a programme which is befitting to the needs and aspirations of our diverse community,’ says Joiner. ‘First and foremost was the need for a permanent space: a holistic environment which supports and champions the arts and provides a new, safe home for the LGBTQ+ community.’ 

Portrait of Queercircle founder, curator and filmmaker Ashley Joiner
Portrait of Queercircle founder Ashley Joiner

The organisation is now campaigning to raise £40,000 of public funding to open the new site. Working at the intersection of arts, culture and social action, Queercircle is supported by trustees including artists Isaac Julien and Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, actor, collector, podcaster and Turner Prize juror Russell Tovey, and Victoria Miro gallery’s Glenn Scott Wright. 

The urgency for such a resource has been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19 on mental health. A report into its effect on the LGBTQ+ community revealed that 69 per cent of those surveyed had shown depressive symptoms, while the odds of experiencing such symptoms increased three-fold among those who had been subject to homophobia or transphobia. 

‘I’ve been inspired by queer community spaces like the LGBT centres in NYC and in San Francisco, and was excited by the prospect of a safe space here in London for all members of the community to have and to use,’ Russell Tovey commented. 

Offering much-needed space for the LGBTQ+ creative community, collaborative artist residencies, and community participation opportunities, the initiative aims to bolster the bonds between culture, health and wellbeing. 

Isaac Julien said, ‘While diversity, identity and representation become more regular topics of public debate and reflection, queer people and LGBTQ+ cultural expressions are still in need of more organised spaces and systematic ways to establish dialogues and exchange ideas.’ §