Local Independent Gallery Celebrates 25 Years in Business in 2016

Local Independent Gallery Celebrates 25 Years in Business in 2016

02 December 2015

Whilst I was studying for my degree in Fine Art at the University of Sheffield, I was shocked to find that there was nowhere to show or sell contemporary art in the UK’s 4th biggest city. This led me to set up my own gallery, Cupola, here in Sheffield when I was 23 years old, as I was eager to support struggling artists follow their passions. I like being in Sheffield because it is the most ‘uncity like city’ in the UK. That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty going on in the cultural scene (more now so than ever) but the friendliness of the people and the proximity to the Peaks gives it that unique character. Add to that, the vast number of incredibly interesting, verging on crazy people makes it a great place to work.

Business Sheffield has been very useful for my gallery as they have provided me with the right contacts as well as overall support. I have been able to call them up and ask for practical advice or even financial support when the banks have said no. Through them, I held a workshop in the build up to Small Business Saturday – a national event that encourages people to shop locally, bringing small businesses together and promoting them. I think events like this are great for providing small businesses with a voice, as well as sending out that important message that Small Businesses need to come together because collectively we are stronger. There just aren’t enough hours in the day when you have your own business, and when things get tough we need that support from each other to keep on going. Independent businesses may only employ one or two people, compared with hundreds or thousands in bigger companies, but they do employ local people, which have positive impacts on the local economy and keeps communities connected.

What sets me apart from my competitors is that I am very passionate about what I do and I allow my workers to let their personality come out in their work. I’m here to support my artists and their passions; I don’t tell them what to produce. I want them to create something in their own style with their own ideas. So I would say the main challenge I face running my own independent business is financial: in the artistic world you can have a week of great sales and then the next month relatively poor sales, it is very unpredictable!

If I had one piece of advice for someone wanting to set-up their own business, I would tell them not to get distracted from their ultimate vision, but at the same time, take advice from those who have been through it before and any other expert advice! Next year is our 25th anniversary at the gallery which is very exciting - I am developing an arts focused festival in Hillsborough to celebrate!  

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