Bidston Observatory Artistic Research Centre (BOARC) is a self-organising, communal study site. It is a not-for-profit project that focuses on providing individual users and groups with a low cost, temporary place to work and stay together; to develop projects that require time and space in a flexible, non-pressured environment.
BOARC is a site for research and experimentation, which is primarily directed towards cultural and artistic practice, and supporting the development of communities. It is a space where those invested in culture, social justice and welfare, from a range of fields can come together to share, test and extend ideas and mutually support each other. BOARC is open to a range of academic and nonacademic discourses, bodywork, collective choreography, and chat - it is a space where discussion can flow from kitchen to sound recording studio, and ideas can bounce between the domes and basements.
Main kitchen and workspace
There is no formal application to use the resource and BOARC does not look to lay claim to work produced here or put focus on presentation. In this sense, it is not a typical artists' residency site. Stayers and day users commit to their projects, and practice daily communal maintenance of the domestic and work spaces.
BOARC also hosts seminars, events and workshops throughout the year.
Basement workspace, below main kitchen
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BOARC uses the following principles as guides for working and staying together at the site:
Creating space for collective resourcing
Many different people use BOARC, sharing what they’d like to with others. It can be difficult to find spaces to resource ourselves – creatively, mentally, emotionally and energetically. In using BOARC, we notice what resources us, and we take care with how this affects all users of the space.
Everyone brings a wealth of specific knowledge with their personal experience and histories, and this is abundance! Sharing the space with multiple people allows us to figure out our own boundaries, and offers learning opportunities for BOARC as a project. It is possible to learn from the subtler actions that go into making things possible - all those little unsung gestures and heartfelt tributes that weave together to make life flow that much easier; opening time and freeing up space so that we all might enjoy it.
Emotional, domestic and administrative labour are foundational to most operations: we see daily life as offering wisdom in the questions it brings, which BOARC as a project stands to grow through. Everyone mucking in and taking part is vital.
We understand that acts of mutual support or communality do not always appear as equal, and that social economies are not fixed or necessarily measurable. We find it a privilege to trust others, while making space for collective resourcing.
Making experimentation possible
The site is a space for experimentation. Users are not expected to deliver a final exhibition/paper/product as part of their stay here; BOARC does not intend to capture your research.
BOARC aims is to facilitate a space for critical thinking through materiality and making. In order to experiment, there is often need for quiet moments, unknowns and unexpected reveals. It can be helpful for everyone to be in a mutually supportive environment, and one where experimentation can involve processes of failure. We allow this for each other so that we can try out different models of being together.
In order for everyone to use and enjoy the site, we take a non-extractive approach to being here and to being with others. We hope to replenish, restore and repair as part of being at BOARC.
Being accountable for ourselves
We acknowledge that power is both exerted and felt differently. The direct and indirect effects of power, material or otherwise, are rarely equal in this world, and on this site. Nevertheless, by being at BOARC, we try to recognise the ways that power may be asymmetrical, and we take ourselves into account in this recognition. We understand that processes of accountability take time and need nourishment rather than shame in order to grow. We are all works-in-process.
The political systems we live in perpetuate inequality and leave many disadvantaged. BOARC was set up as a collective resource in response to these asymmetries. It is run on trust and the belief that anything is possible when communities share responsibility and work together.
As part of the third principle of 'Being accountable for ourselves',BOARC has an accountability agreement and process in place, which is continually developing to include multiple voices, and to ensure that those currently running the space keep their ears open.
We know that putting in effort to understand power relations and privileges - for stayers, users and organisers – is an emotional investment, and we thank you in advance.
Efflorescence in the basement. Crystalline salt deposits forming in the basement work spaces as they dried out during renovations.
Principles for being together at BOARC have been established over the course of getting the project up and running, and through discussions with the project initiators and multiple collaborators. They emerge from intersectional feminist values and practices.
Stayers and day users should read these principles if they intend to use the resource. It is not essenatial to agree with them exactly as they are written. However, they offer a feel for the values and practices enacted in and envisoned for the space.
In using BOARC, you are agreeing to practice the accountability agreement. Please read the accountability agreement thoroughly.
With any experiment it is important to be aware of the conditions. As an intersectional feminist space, there are things that can’t be tolerated: racism, sexism, homophobia, transism, ableism, ageism - and any kind of ‘ism’ or ‘phobia’ where anyone assumes superiority over others. We will hear you out if your behaviour is questioned, but you may be asked to leave if you inflict these forms of aggression on other people.
Be conscious of our power or use privilege in the space, even if it’s subtle or seems to be ‘the norm’.
Be tolerant and question the assumptions we make about other people and their experiences.
Try to speak up when others overstep our boundaries.
Respect others boundaries.
Be mindful that we all have blind spots.
Note that “No” is a complete sentence.?
Be open to listening to others and trust that feedback is an offering, not an attack.
Consider ways of countering injustice, that does not seek to shame or judge. Under capitalism, shame and judgement are used to divide us and reduce our power as a collective. Let’s take that power back.
In short, let's be mindful of how we are in the space and how we affect others.All of us are constantly evolving, and this is helped by learning from others. While transgressions can occur, in this project we can to use them as opportunities to learn. This means questioning the behaviours of others in a non-judgemental way and being open to hearing the viewpoints of others if our own behaviour is questioned.
This agreement includes those running the space and any element of the BOARC project. It is understood to be an essential element for the project's learning and growth.
Should you need to address anything during your stay here there is an accountability process in place. If you raise an issue with a member of the BOARC team, we’ll first let you know the steps of the process, and ask out how you’d like to proceed.You can either speak with a member of the team, or send an email to email@example.com
If you’d prefer to be anonymous, there are a number of email account providers which you can register with, without your name attached. We can also receive letters to: Bidston Observatory Artistic Research Centre, Wilding Way, Prenton, CH43 7RA.
This project is aiming to experiment with different ways of doing things, and we invite your thoughts! We’re constantly developing our processes and we’d love your input as we keep creating them. If you have anything to say about the BOARC Accountability Agreement, or any aspect of the BOARC project, please let us know.
About the project’s organisation
Bidston Observatory is privately owned, bought in 2016 by two of the current directors specifically for this project. The purchase and renovations were funded by the sale of hereditary land in the West Country for commercial and residential development. The property is leased to BOARC for what is known as a ‘peppercorn rent’ – BOARC pays a peppercorn (literally) each year to the owners. The owners maintain the building, often themselves. This structure makes it possible to keep stayer and user costs low. No property costs are passed on to stayers and the directors and owners have no intention to profit from users of the building.
Bidston Observatory Artistic Research Centre was incorporated as a PLC in 2019, and is run as a not-for-profit. There are currently five directors who meet once a quarter to guide the project. The directorship is unpaid. You’ll probably meet one or two directors during your stay as three work every week onsite as stewards. There is a small team of stewards who support the running of the project. They answer mails, plan events, help clean and everything in between. Some stewards are volunteers and some are paid.
BOARC is an experiment in itself, which takes energy, good humour, self-reflection and lots of patience to run, and we thank you for your participation!
We are not currently seeking another member of the team, but please do get in touch for more information. We will consider all applications when the role opens up.
BOARC is an autonomous space run by the people who founded it, and you would be joining as part of the small team. The Stewarding role requires a range of soft skills, practical capabilities, and hands-on health & safety duties. You will need to be responsive and flexible as part of this role, interested in the project as an experiment, as well as being aligned to the project’s values. We are a LGBTQ+ team with neuro-diverse members, actively non-racist, with an accountability policy. BOARC welcomes people from diverse backgrounds. An enhanced DBS is also required, as safeguarding is an occasionally required part of this role.
There are also opportunities for live-in stewards who can assist long term whilst using the space for their own projects, and affiliates - either individuals, groups or organisations - who can help steer the project over the next couple of years.
This is a hybrid situation: an offer of domestic and studio resources for a period of three months. The live-in steward stays at BOARC without paying any nightly fees to study, work, commit to a period of research, and concentrate on their own practice. In return, the live-in steward takes responsibility during the night for four or five nights per week. Positions begin in January, March, June and September on a rolling basis. This position is specifically for people with experience of co-running autonomous DIY spaces. If you are interested in this position please send us an email and we’ll reply with the info pack and application procedure.
BOARC is a young experimental project and we are responsively shaping the organisation as we go along. We really appreciate people getting to know the project and offering contributions.
The AGM is held as part of the Annual General Exchange between 31st October - 5th November every year.The Affiliates meeting is held as part of Summer solstice, around the 21st June.
If you are interested in supporting the programming at BOARC we are launching BOARC affiliates soon! More info incoming.
We are currently developing a Heritage Education Centre Space (HECS). We periodically hold working group meetings to set up the HECS. More information on opportunities relating to this project will be posted here soon. To find out more please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it only possible to stay for a minimum of two nights?
It’s not possible for people to stay for one night only, as this tends to take away from the community’s resources rather than add to it - not to mention the extra laundry costs!
Why is it only possible to stay for a maximum of one month?
In order for this resource to be shared by multiple different groups and individuals, stay is capped at one month. This keeps the space flowing and stops areas becoming territorialised unintentionally. As this is a study site, it is not possible to just live here, though we understand study takes many different forms and doesn’t always appear “productive”.
Why is there a sliding scale?
Many of the decisions we make here at BOARC focus on keeping this resource available for practitioners. The sliding scale helps us to offer a subsidised rate to people who would benefit.
What is an artistic research centre?
In the arts, just like in the sciences, research is conducted in the process of making or experimenting. Practitioners take time, and focus attention on the way that they conduct their practice – however it fits into a discipline, or sits outside many. The process of doing research in the arts varies greatly, and there is no one methodology which applies to all. This artistic research centre is a space where people can come to explore different methods of working, have time for reflection, and get feedback from other practitioners.
What do you mean by self-organising?
The stewards are here to support the building and its resources. The building and its resources are here to support you and your work. While the project is all about trying to make things possible, stewards are already fully occupied with administration and practicalities and can not be expected to support the needs of your personal practice too.
Why is it important to read the values?
through the values carefully and make a decision for themselves about whether they feel aligned. It is not important to share all of these values exactly as they are written, but you should be aware that this is an actively anti-racist, anti-ableist, intersectional feminist site, and there are accountability guidelines in place here for users, stayers, stewards and organisers alike.[Link to values here]
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