What is Zu Studios?
Housed in a 100-year-old warehouse, Zu is a community hub where everyone can feel at home, be themselves and feel accepted, regardless of how eccentric or normal they believe themselves to be! Zu was created by and rests on a foundation of an ever-expanding group of friends who wish to be part of a space of inspiration, education and celebration.
Zu is an authentic, caring community in which people find a platform to be creative and offer their gifts to the world. We run events that nurture us as human beings, through song, story, dance, games, music, art, spirituality, nutrition, environmental awareness and knowledge of human rights. We believe in creating the type of community we are proud to be part of, through both positive intention and grounded action, in harmony and awareness of the spiraling magic and synchronicity of the universe.
How does Zu work?
Zu receives no external funding whatsoever. Each month, we must cover huge overheads such as rates, rent and electricity. Zu is funded by revenue from approximately 200 events a year, rent from the studio artists, dues from Zu membership and kind donations from many loving individuals who have been touched by Zu and wish to give back with gratitude. Zu succeeds simply because hundreds of volunteers believe in giving of themselves to be part of something that is truly beautiful. It is underpinned by the continual dedication of founder Martin Thomas and the core crew, who are passionate about holding this complex, vibrant space and choose to work day and night to keep improving it.
What have we done so far?
Over the last seven years, we have collectively touched thousands of people’s lives and supported numerous projects, including but no way limited to:
Fundraising for a beehive sanctuary, an orphanage and many other charitable groups and individuals
Supporting individual arts projects, such as theatrical productions, large-scale art pieces for festivals, and 'Relax and Dream', a film which brings scenes of nature to children in hospices
Bringing more awareness to industries and policies that have a detrimental effect on the environment and communities. Through workshops, films, direct action, fundraising events and highly creative publicity campaigns, we shine a light on issues such as Fracking, TPP and Global Pollution
Supporting local artists by providing 20 artist studios without profit in order to keep the rent as low as possible
Creating a free local arts festival to build ties between the public and the numerous arts and community centres which surround Zu on the Phoenix Estate
Supporting visionary thinkers and fostering debate by hosting lectures and workshops, which are open to the public and often web-cast
Providing a space for a peer-counseling organisation run by teenagers, which aims to educate fellow teens on drug use and provide emotional support
Creating epic themed parties which are festivals of imagination and encourage a conscious, happy and respectful atmosphere
Organising and hosting trade fairs in which local artists can sell their crafts, demonstrate their skills and discuss their art with the public
Creating exciting and unconventional art shows which showcase high-quality, thought-provoking work, as well as offering activities which are fun, interactive and aim to demonstrate to children (and adults) that art is much more than simply a picture on a wall – it can be a completely new way to see and engage with the world
Providing amenities for an alternative community who choose not to live in traditional accommodation
All of these things have immense intrinsic value – however, it could be argued that the most important thing Zu does is simply to bring together people from every walk of life and enable them all to partake in a friendly community, free from dogma or judgment. From this open network, numerous kitchen-table businesses have flourished, relationships have blossomed, babies have been made and people have been supported through the best and the worst times of their lives.
What is the future of Zu?
We hope that Zu can continue to expand for many years to come, bringing more wonder and joy to more people. However, the future of the building is uncertain. There is a developer who wants to raze the entire estate and has offered Zu a place within the proposed development but we do not yet know if it will be affordable or suitable – certainly it will be more expensive, considerably smaller and isolated within the surrounding residential buildings, while the entirety of the arts community currently found on the Phoenix Estate will be dispersed and displaced. This does not sound appealing but may in the end be better than nothing, if the development goes ahead as proposed. Alternatively, there may be a chance to stay in our current building, if an alternative community plan called Lewes Phoenix Rising is supported by the decision-makers. Phoenix Rising’s planning application is scheduled to be reviewed by the authorities in Autumn 2015. The third option is to look for a suitable piece of land locally or further afield, to take our vision of community to the next level. We are open to all suggestions and are intrigued by the possibility of incorporating all the knowledge we have gained from years of creating a sustainable community and from hosting talks on eco-technologies and approaches to living in an environmentally and socially sustainable way.
How can you be part of Zu?
There are many ways you can be part of Zu!
1. Become a member! For only £5 a month, you will receive a host of benefits and be able to come and use the building whenever it's open (which is most days). Click on the orange box now to discover the all the wonders and benefits of Zu membership.
2. Drop in or come to an event. You can sign up to the mailing list to be notified monthly of Zu events and happenings.
3. Become a patron. Do you believe that Zu is doing something important for society? If you would like to support more good things happening through this community, with either a one-off donation or a subscription amount of your choice, please click on the button below.
4. Come and offer your skills. We always need extra hands and willing hearts to help with repairing, rebuilding, gardening, creating, cleaning and sorting. We also welcome all creative offerings, musicians, artists, performers and people with information to share that is of benefit to the world. Drop us an email with your skills, ideas or offerings...
Thanks for reading! x