Coda Capital Development Project
Transforming for all
In our 25th year Coda is beginning the next phase of development of our home by transforming dilapidated agricultural buildings into dynamic community assets to provide a vibrant, creative space for people of all ages and abilities.
The new spaces will provide:
■ a home to artists making professional work in dedicated studios and inspiring an exhibition programme featuring local, national and international practitioners
■ a wide ranging programme of educational activities, skills development and training, including art classes for children and workshops for adults
■ a clinical and participatory programme using the arts as a tool for therapy, health and wellbeing
■ a space for local people and groups to host a wide range of events
In a region marked by low cultural engagement, Coda’s programmes engage approximately 50,000 people annually with music activity.
The charity owns and occupies a two-acre farm-site on the edge of the New Forest in Dorset and, over the past two decades, we have converted a range of former farm buildings in response to growing demand for our activities. From this base, we deliver a range of programmes focused on two key themes:
■ Music Education and Learning: Coda offers instrumental music tuition, workshops and creative music-making opportunities for the entire local community accessible to people of all ages from pre-school children to older people.
■ Music for Health and Wellbeing: A wide-ranging and award-winning programme of services to support the health and wellbeing of people of all ages and abilities, incorporating a clinical music therapy service and a range of targeted participation projects.
Coda Proposed Development Animation
The Coda Site
Coda is situated on a two-acre site on the Dorset and New Forest borders in Christchurch. Our home, a former model farm dating from the 1850s with a blend of early Victorian brick buildings, barns and green fields has been subject to four small phases of development and now hosts the region’s only dedicated music therapy centre, twelve dedicated spaces for playing and learning music, state of the art recording studios (in partnership with platinum selling writers and producers, Red Triangle Productions) and a cafe and social space for our community.
Purchased by the Trust in 2005 the site offers a rare opportunity to create an inspirational mix of services - commercial, social and inclusive – and acts as a unique hub in the region for the creative and cultural sectors.
The site is one of Coda’s strongest assets and offers tremendous opportunity and potential for expansion and growth. However, over 300 square metres of dilapidated farm buildings lie decaying and empty. This project will see us convert these old agricultural buildings into new vibrant, creative spaces for people of all ages and abilities for the long term and, in the short term, to help rebuild our communities following the Covid pandemic.
The new facilities will enable Coda to extend the charity’s offer of music tuition, classes, workshops, group music-making and therapy into new and broader fields of artistic practice, creating a new centre for everyday creativity.
It is our ambition to create a shining beacon for cultural creativity at our home in order to provide more opportunity for people to engage in, and benefit from, creativity at a time when it is most needed.
The external need
Over the past 20 years, Coda has become an essential local resource for music in the area, providing high quality learning opportunities and an award-winning programme of services to support the health and wellbeing of hundreds of people every week through music.
The local community has shaped Coda’s goals and services for more than two decades. Over the years new priorities and programmes have grown in response to local needs and our activities emerge from, and are sustained by, demand from the local community.
Our programmes and services meet a need caused by:
■ A significant decline in cultural provision in schools and a lack of relevant facilities in alternative community-based settings.
■ The growing need for arts organisations to provide life-long learning opportunities, employment training and skills development for both adults and young people.
■ The need for third sector organisations to support the health and social care sector and the increased understanding of the role of the arts in providing innovative services and solutions to the crisis in care.
■ The demographics of the region, in particular its ageing population, combined with plans to significantly increase the local population all around Coda as a result of local government-led residential developments.
The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the broader value of creativity in people’s lives and the need to bring these fundamental human pursuits back into our communities and this project aims to respond to this new demand and Coda’s commitment to inclusivity with diversity, disability and a mission to making a positive difference to people’s lives lie at the heart of this project.
Aside from the landscape left by the Coronavirus Pandemic, our experience, evaluation and research provides evidence of a very real local need to provide services to support the health and wellbeing of local people.
Coda’s plans have been developed to reflect the evidence that creative engagement in arts activities can have positive effects on general health, medication use, and occurrence of falls and contribute to increased physical activity. Arts and crafts have also been shown by researchers to be beneficial to health and wellbeing.
For example, craft contributes to reduced anxiety and stress, improves self-esteem, helps symptoms of stroke and dementia and supports community development. Participation in craft has also been shown to boost achievement in all academic subject areas.
Coda’s research has illustrated how popular “making” workshops are locally, from upholstery to painting and ceramics, but there is no single space acting as a local hub for these workshops in East Dorset or the New Forest. The new facilities at Coda will provide a focal point for the disparate activities that take place across the area such as those led by Moon Studio Ceramics and a host of individual artists.
Equally, we have indentified a clear and high demand for studio space from local artists through consultation with individual practitioners, local organisations including SPUD Works in the New Forest, and regional studio providers including A Space Arts.
A New Programme of Activity
The capital works will provide Coda, and more importantly the local community, with a new, purpose-built centre from which to launch an exciting and much needed programme of activity.
The project will provide a new focal point for a broader range of services and draw further on local expertise and capacity through partnerships with freelance artists and local and regional charitiesin order to increase the cultural offer for local people.
More specifically the programme will include:
■ A significant range of educational activities, skills development and training including art classes (building on the Arts and Crafts renaissance highlighted above) for children and workshops for adults.
■ A programme using the arts as a tool for health and well-being developed in partnership with local charity Hampshire Art for Recreation and Therapy (hArt)
■ A new programme of creative and engaging activities for people with disabilities, developed in partnership with our existing partners like Linwood Special School, Wessex Autism, Stable Family Home Trust and many others.
The Development Project
The project will consist of:
■ Significant upgrades and landscaping to our car park in the barn yard and Coda driveway to improve accessibility and safety;
■ Internal and external upgrades to our existing spaces to make them more accessible, better soundproofed and environmentally sustainable;
■ The transformation of the disused stable block, barn and cow sheds to enable Coda to diversify its work into new cultural activities and services, creating an atmospheric gallery, exhibition and workshop space and seven artists/makers studios;
■ The conversion of the old grain store barns to create a large sound-proofed flexible workshop space;• (Our field to the north will remain a natural green field)
Through this project Coda will provide a unique facility and an important response to the needs of local people for cultural services in their community. Our goal is to increase opportunities to learning and to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.
One of the driving factors for the transformation was the desire to enhance the overall accessibility and usability of the site. The new design addresses both the existing facilities as well as the proposed spaces with a view to creating easily navigable and accessible routes through the building, which make using the space both easy and enjoyable for all its occupants.
The ethos of Coda is very much one of innovation and community; creating an inclusive and sustainable environment for not only its users, but the wider environment. As such, the design has been created with a strong environmental drive as key part of the planning process. This will be reflected in the use of renewables, inclusion of EV charge points and a secure bike store, the use of natural, sustainable materials where possible and creating areas for biodiversity.