Small Business of the Year entrant – Barewall Art Gallery
From strengthening its online offer to collaborating with other businesses, a Stoke-on-Trent art gallery is constantly innovating to stay successful.
Barewall Art Gallery in Burslem has just reopened after a three-month refurbishment, including new business Lost and Found Projects moving into the Barewall gallery space.
Trading moved entirely online for the duration of the renovation after director Amanda Bromley perfected a web trading model during the pandemic. The website now attracts customers from across the UK and overseas.
The business was launched 14 years ago by Amanda, who is committed to supporting the work of artists from across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire including representing the estate of the late artist Arthur Berry.
It initially began as an empty shop front project which grew into an art gallery, drawing on Amanda’s own passions and contacts established through a long association with Burslem Arts and Crafts Festival.
She said: “We’ve worked hard to keep things going. You have to keep moving forward positively and diversify if you have to.
“The gallery space, now occupied by Lost and Found Projects, was originally our own exhibition space that we converted a few years ago. In lockdown we had to rent it out for storage and we’re delighted that we’re now able to have a partner business come and work closely with us.”
The gallery refurbishment was carried out using sustainable materials, including Georgian floorboards sourced from elsewhere in the building, with Amanda and wife Paula doing much of the work themselves.
Paula, a marketing director with a high-profile Staffordshire business, supports Amanda’s work at Barewall and they have three volunteers.
“We’ve made a lot of friends over the past 14 years,” said Amanda. “It’s been incredibly tough being in a place that has a lot of bad press. For various different reasons we’ve gone through one thing after another and Burslem is still changing, but the history of Burslem School of Art and various other reasons make Burslem the right place for an art business to be based.”
Barewall Art Gallery has entered the Small Business of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.