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East Quay Manifesto

Onion Collective CIC, 2021

East Quay is about cultural connection, nurturing creativity, and inviting curiosity. It is through culture, experienced collectively, that we come together, find laughter and joy and explore what gives us purpose and hope. It is about the things we see and experience, the music we make and hear, the way that we dance and play, the fun we have together. 


Designed by some of the most inspiring architects in the country, East Quay has been developed over eight years with community input and deliberation. We have filled it with space for the finest artists to exhibit with joy, beauty, wonder and fun, and provided places to nurture the creative talents of local artists and artisans. Artists and makers will make their livelihoods here, and the community will come together through performance, music, conversation, food and ideas.


Within East Quay, the Gallery will be delivered by Contains Art. Its purpose is to raise ideas, open minds, invite discussion and encourage a social, economic and environmental conversation through culture. It will be a place of imagination and hope, where visits are rewarded with immersive, participatory, activist, and socially-conscious exhibitions and experiences that confound expectations of what visiting an art gallery is like in a place like ours. 


East Quay holds the firm belief that who you are, what you have, and where you live should not limit or constrain your access to the highest-quality artistic and creative experiences. It signals bravely how community-led renewal can empower people and help them to develop agency to fulfill their potential. Here in West Somerset, we have the lowest social mobility in the country. This has huge ramifications for our children’s futures. Art has a role to play in changing this - enriching experiences, drawing out creativity and helping people to flourish. Our education, audience, heritage and digital programmes will bring culture and creativity into classrooms, homes and communities, providing life-long learning and harnessing the imaginations and ideas of children and adults alike.


It also demonstrates that questions of cultural and social justice cannot be separated from economic life and that culture can help to rebuild a forgotten local economy. We need art now more than ever to help us understand and navigate the future. In these turbulent times, everyone must be able to play a role in conceptualising their futures; a process for which art is integral and a responsibility that East Quay will embrace. Our programme of exhibitions and events over the next three years at East Quay will therefore be motivated by ideas that support people and the planet. It will explore community and place, identity and belonging, the climate emergency and the human capacity for change.


We believe East Quay can change the world. We believe in the power of community, the power of culture and the power of enterprise. Together, these things can create the kind of future we all want to live in; one invested in people and built of curiosity, openness and hope.

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