Eleanor Barrett and Rosie Freeman began working together in 2010 when Eleanor founded The Brick Box CIC. Rosie joined as Co-Director in 2013 to share legal responsibility for the company. Eleanor and Rosie had met some years before, while working at the Shunt Lounge in London Bridge and immediately established a creative spark. Discovering shared values and a potent complementary skill set they soon became a dynamic duo. Alongside an incredible production team they grafted hard to deliver the weekly metamorphosis of the space, hosting hundreds of live art performances and transforming 70,000 square feet of underground vaults into a magical playground for thousands of audience members. Eleanor and Rosie took their learnings from adventures in Shunt and beyond to create The Brick Box.
Initially setting up in Brixton Village with a cafe and events programme led by local people, they ignited the space (sometimes literally) and soon won major funding from the Greater London Authority to set up a second offer in Tooting market. After a gritty two years of implementing innovative solutions to the challenges of ailing markets they forged ahead, wrestling with derelict buildings, taking over docks and flyovers, producing people led festivals, immersing themselves in council estates and running riot in theatres.
In 2016, The Brick Box moved up to Bradford (Eleanor’s home town) to open a new cultural venue – The Brick Box Rooms. The physical space, and creative community which coalesced around it, built confidence in the district and in 2018 The Brick Box started working on Bradford’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025. Projects such as The Bubble Up, The Wild Woods and The Mills Are Alive in Manningham all contributed to the district’s capacity and ambition which won the title of UK City of Culture 2025.
For more than 12 years, The Brick Box’s projects have straddled live art, regeneration, placemaking, meanwhile use, spatial practice, creative entrepreneurialism, community empowerment, and culture driven economies. The company has always been an admirer and supporter of ‘outsider’ and marginalised artists, and has worked to democratise the production of art over the last decade. Championed as industry pioneers by funders, commissioners and peers alike, The Brick Box continues to innovate, collaborate and even sometimes agitate. Using a unique brand of charming absurdity – always mixed with meticulous intent – they build audiences, authentically connect with communities and instigate change.