I can’t exactly remember how I heard about the Cromer Artspace but when I did, I just had to go see it. I love Cromer with its wild, wind swept sea, so there was no holding me back. Although I’ve been to Cromer countless times, I was surprised at discovering this gorgeous Art Deco building fused into the cliff at the end of Cromer’s West Prom.
The space is both beautiful and unique. Facing north, it meets the ideal prerequisites for an artist’s studio. The sun reflecting off the sea gives a rare light to the work exhibited within. Looking out from inside is the pure wide sea. And its story is like the unexpected unravelling of a large wonderful ball of wool.
In 2013 floods caused the closure of the building. The gift shop moved to higher ground leaving the building empty. It remained so until 2022 when Cromer Artspace gained the lease for the Artspace on the Prom which opened in April of that year.
The history of Cromer Artspace goes back further than that. It was set up as a charity in 2020 to promote publicly accessible art. A research project was undertaken to explore possibilities and compare similar ventures elsewhere.
2020 saw the first initiative ‘Lockdown Views’ an “online response to lockdown experiences.”
A group of artists started looking for a space that could be used for art exhibitions. The passion of the artists was rewarded with a huge positive response from the residents and council of Cromer but there was work to be done. The first volunteers meeting was held in February 2022 and attended by over 60 people. Now, there is a growing group of about 50 active volunteers. Help also came from a charity called Volunteer it Yourself by providing young people Not in Education, Employment or Training to gain useful experience. They installed an accessible toilet and decorated internally.
In April 2022, Artspace on the Prom was launched with a Silent Auction named ‘It All Starts Here’ to raise money for repairs and improvements to the building and there’s been no looking back since. Thanks to a grant of £20,000 (£5,000 short of what was needed) from the Norfolk Coast Partnership an inclusive access ramp was installed and further renovations took place just before the second Silent Auction ‘Tah dah, We’re Back’ and launch of the 2023 season.
The Artspace is offering a full programme of contemporary art exhibitions this summer. The season runs into November. (Mine will be in September.)
But this is not all they do! They also run Pictures Around Cromer, a way to bring art to the people. This year, in collaboration with the National Gallery, 30 life-size reproductions of works from the collection are dotted around the streets of Cromer. The pictures date from Van Eyck (1434) to Monet (1907) and include works by Botticelli, Rembrandt, Turner, Van Gogh to name but a few. Printed brochures are available at the Information Centre and the Artspace on the Prom.
The most impressive thing about the project is that Cromer wants art. It’s the efforts of many that is creating a buzz around the town. Not only is the Artspace a well loved venue, it’s through the support of artists, art lovers and volunteers that the iconic Art Deco building is being restored. But there is still a lot of work to be done. The last time I visited, there was a bit of water on the floor. Money needs to be raised for roof repairs …
So, if you are looking for an artistic outing, Cromer is worth a visit.
All images © Cromer Artspace