What do we do?
The Old Fire Station is a public arts centre
- presenting new work across art forms
- supporting artists
- including people facing tough times
How do we do it?
We do this by focussing on:
- good quality relationships
- encouraging creativity and risk-taking
- offering a public space which is welcoming to all
Why is this needed?
Oxford is globally renowned for stunning heritage and outstanding research.
Oxford is also a place of disadvantage and inequality and is sometimes regarded as closed.
Oxford needs the Old Fire Station because it is about openness, inclusion, looking forward and different thinking. The Old Fire Station acts as a bridge between sectors, organisations and people.
Presenting new work across art forms
We want our reputation to be good quality art aimed at adults which takes a risk, asks questions and entertains. We want our audiences to have fun and be open to new ideas and different people.
We support early to mid-career artists from all disciplines with advice, networks and promotion to help them become more successful.
Including people facing tough times
We share our building with the homelessness charity, Crisis. Through this partnership, we offer people who are homeless space to define themselves and choose their own labels by including them in the running of the centre. We look for ways of including others who are socially isolated and disadvantaged. This improves the quality of what we do, helps develop networks, builds resilience and leads to more stable lives.
We do this, with Crisis, by offering a public space which is shared by very different people and helps to break down barriers and promote solidarity in Oxford. We prioritise building good quality relationships within our team, with our public and with partner organisations.
Openness: We want everyone to feel welcome and able to contribute.
Good Quality Relationships: We try to be honest and transparent.
Innovation: We look for creative ways of operating.
Learning: We reflect deeply on what we do, seek to learn from others and listen to dissent.
Professionalism: We aim to provide the best possible service to customers, artists and collaborators.
Fun: We think it is important to play and take risks.
We will create a sustainable social enterprise, enabling us to secure enough income from supporters and customers to be able to make the impact we are seeking.
We believe that art is for everyone: everyone has potential. Seeing, participating in and making art engages, excites and stretches people, encouraging new voices and unexpected connections.
As an arts centre, sharing a building and working in partnership with Crisis, we want to deliver and sustain a truly inclusive artistic and cultural public space, which welcomes and celebrates difference and enables people to engage with new ideas, develop new skills and try on new identities. Our job is to put on shows, exhibitions, events and workshops – and to work hard selling tickets, running the bar and the shop, hiring out spaces and keeping our customers happy so that we keep the money coming in to make this all possible.
We believe that the people, activities and opportunities within AOFS – and the values that underpin everything we do – enable people to find their own ways to become better artists, more resilient individuals and part of stronger, more inclusive communities. Together, they will create outcomes that we could never have planned for or predicted.
Our ambition is that everyone we are working with – volunteers, artists, homeless people, staff, members of the public, professional colleagues – can enjoy these opportunities and benefits. Within this, we have chosen three specific changes we want to support through our work:
- Everyone engaged with AOFS is more open to new ideas and different people.
- Artists are more successful.
- Homeless people are more resilient and stable.