2022 has been a pivotal year for Printworks. This weekend gives us a moment to look back over the past few years with a mixture of gratitude and relief. It is also an opportunity to look forward to what we aim to achieve in 2023.
Printworks began as a collective idea in early 2017. By November 2017 we started renting the current space. Thanks to local trusts and individual sponsors we also acquired our two great printing presses and screen-print facilities. By mid 2018 we had a working Membership system and were running a programme of short cost-recoverable courses. In June 2019 we consolidated 'Wivenhoe Printworks' as a not-for profit Company Limited by Guarantee with a small Board of Directors and a mix of annual and monthly Members.
Barely ten months later in March 2020 the UK went into an indeterminate period of lockdown as the COVID virus struck, and Printworks faced some very difficult decisions about how to continue renting our large workshop space and maintaining the facilities whilst meeting safety requirements. We did our best to keep up with the changing legislation but it’s true to say that in practice it would be Autumn 2021 before we were again able to put together a proper course programme with the confidence that people would feel safe to attend. During that period we were very fortunate to receive financial support and encouragement from patrons, dedicated Members and our small but very loyal Board. Without their support Printworks would not have made it through, and 2022 would not have been the turning point year that it has been.
2022 has been a year of real achievement, notably the significant strengthening of the team which manages project direction, facilities and course development, the addition to the team of Carol Munn-Giddings as Member Representative, the refocussing of print process development on the core areas of Relief, Screenprint, Collagraph and Intaglio, the restarting of a long-term course programme delivered through Eventbrite, the successful participation on several local Art Trails in partnership with the Old Grocery venue and the very impressive financial stabilisation of the organisation.
2023: Membership Development
Printworks is a small organisation and it is largely demand-driven. Demand comes primarily from two main user groups: people who attend courses and people who become Members. Courses bring new people into the Printworks orbit and enable us to share skills and creative approaches with a wide range of users from complete beginners to accomplished printmakers. This is very much a two way process and helps us as much as it helps newcomers to enjoy the range of activities which we offer. Whether we provide the teaching ourselves or bring in other printmakers and artists as guest tutors, the process stimulates further ideas for course development and gauges potential interest in going further with specific processes. People who come on short courses often get excited to try out other printmaking opportunities and consider the benefits of becoming Members. During 2022 our Member Representative Carol Munn-Giddings has been working to strengthen this engagement through conversations with individual Members which feed back into Printworks planning; profiling Members and their interests to feature on future website posts and in social media, and working with other Board members to reshape how we plan and deliver Member-related (ie internal) courses. She has also been evaluating alternative Membership models and benefits.