FEATURE: Prospect House | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Artwork by Nikki Brewster

In February the proposition of a space bringing together a range of creatives under one roof in the heart of South Tyneside seemed almost too good to be true. Plus as any locals know, it being in walking distance of the metro and Simonside Maccy’s was undoubtedly also quite appealing.

Upon arrival, even though the former factory space was still in the process of being converted by owner Illias Mantalios, Prospect House turned out to be an easy sell. While it hadn’t been exclusively planned as an arts hub, Illias saw the benefit of bringing creatives on board from the ground level of the project, helping to nurture them as businesses based there and planning to further develop ‘The Block’, an area which would function as a community space within the finished building, facilitated by the creatives themselves.

So, two units were set to become ours under the banner of AMOS Creative; a joint effort between Wycombe 89, a filmmaking and digital media partnership I formed with Grant Robson several years back, and Jordan Embleton, a frequent collaborator whose work as PhotoByJordan had gone from strength to strength. With a year ahead of planned short film and documentary projects, wedding photography and promotional campaigns, we were raring to go.

But, as I mentioned, all of this was in February 2020, right? And you know what happens next…

The shutters were down and the reality of what 2020 was going to be began to set in. It was a twist in the story that wasn’t unique to us, or any of our fellow residents at Prospect House, but weathering the storm of lockdown was a frustrating inevitability nevertheless.

South Tyneside is such a creative, artistic area that having this sort of hub will be really helpful to the local community

Eventually we returned, not only to establish what the place would be, but now also to make it a COVID-safe workspace. As we did, our neighbours there began to do the same, social distancing markings were laid out and copious amounts of masks and hand gels began appearing as standard. Vocal coach Jen Stevens even returned with large perspex shields around her piano, ready for whatever people must mean when they say ‘the new normal’.

For those involved, even at a social distance, a space like this provides fertile ground to cross collaborate with other local artists, filmmakers, musicians and creatives, for the betterment of their own works, but also for the community. For upcoming artists it also makes what you are doing feel real. Artist Nikki Brewster of NolaSean recognised the benefits for growth here too: “Having a base makes my business finally feel whole after being self-employed and tired of working from home and hot desks.”

Since returning, drummer Rhys English has begun soundproofing, local clothing favourites Red Star set up their office and Martin Trollope (aka Harbourmaster) has just begun a target smashing fundraiser to relocate here. “South Tyneside is such a creative, artistic area that having this sort of hub will be really helpful to the local community, not to mention having this wide range of creatives on site who can help out the artists I work with,” he enthuses. Indeed, aside from his sterling mastering, mixing and recording work with a variety of local artists, the fact this is following his work on our short films Big Pink Dress and First Date Of The Dead, is frankly another massive plus on the ever-growing list of being based at Prospect House!

Creatives and creative spaces have a difficult journey ahead in recovering from the fallout of this year, but knowing the comradery and passion that have been shown by the others around us for making it work, I’m glad we get to do it here.

Prospect House is located at Amos Ayre Place, Jarrow, South Shields, NE34 9PE

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