Opening, running and growing a cultural or community space in London

Opening, running and growing a cultural or community space in London
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Posted: Thu 11th Apr 2024

Are you a creative or community organisation thinking about opening or expanding your premises?

You could have a space and want to take your creativity to an even bigger audience, or be looking for your very first premises to serve your community. Or, it may be the first time you've thought of taking your work to a permanent space.

Taking on a new space could be the way to grow your income, audience, community impact and identity, as part of London's creative story. Of course, this isn't without risk. As well as being potentially expensive, running a permanent facility brings new legal and operational commitments. It may not be right for every organisation.

This step-by-step guide outlines everything you need to consider when securing a new space.

Top tip: It's recommended that you work through each resource in order, particularly if this is your first time looking for a space in London.

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Business planning

So, you have your fantastic idea but don't know where to start. Often, the best place to begin is to decide how you're going to set up and run your organisation.

With this guidance, you'll get up to speed with how to prepare a business case, which helps articulate what you want to achieve and how you think you can achieve it. There is a template for you to follow – so don't worry, you're not starting with a blank sheet of paper!

You'll also find information on a whole range of organisational structures you might use to help decide which is right for you, whether that's a charity, limited company, community organisation or another business structure.

Once you're set up, you might need to think about staff and registering for tax, or with a local authority – there is guidance on some key contacts too below.

Take action:

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Legal responsibilities

Owning, renting or otherwise leasing a location brings a range of legal responsibilities to you and your organisation.

With this guidance, you'll learn more about the legal process for setting up your space, including the legal jargon you'll likely come across and how to negotiate a good deal for the space you need.

Hopefully, things will run smoothly for you and your business. But there's also information on any tricky end-of-lease issues that might arise and how to negotiate a new lease.

Take action:

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Finance and fundraising

Money doesn't make the world go around, but it will certainly be important to make sure you have enough in the bank for your projects! Also, it might be that you're able to generate revenue or profits from your venture and you want to protect that.

With this guidance, you'll find templates for you to use to help assess how financially viable your projects are before getting started. You might also be looking to explore fundraising or grants – there is guidance on the different fundraising strategies available to you and your business.

Take action:

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Finding and running a space

Running a space is often the most complicated area as there are so many different things to think about when using a commercial or cultural space. You might not have dealt with a property before, and so the jargon can often be overwhelming to understand.

With this guidance, you'll learn the key things to look out for when running a space, including how to find the right property and an overview of your legal rights.

Take action:

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Next steps

Get in touch

If you have any questions about this guide, please email the Space for Culture team at the Greater London Authority at

The team would love to hear your thoughts on how it can be improved or advice from your own experience.

More useful resources

The Mayor of London's Space for Culture team has developed a Cultural Infrastructure Toolbox which includes advice and guidance on creating new and protecting existing cultural and community space.


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