The Eagle Gallery is a unique artist-led gallery in Bedford. It is managed and run by a co-operative of 40 local artists and receives no grant aid or commercial funding.
Ten years ago, Peter Budek, owner of the Eagle Bookshop, acquired the premises next door and offered the ground floor to local artists to use as an exhibition space for the benefit of the local community. The co-operative was set up to bring together interested artists to make this a reality. It soon transformed the premises and established a programme of exhibitions, workshops and other events.
Forty members bring to the gallery very different backgrounds and a variety of experiences. Our exhibitions reflect this diversity and present exciting and eclectic work that ranges from the traditionally figurative to the highly conceptual and includes ceramics, sculpture, textiles, photography as well as paintings in oils, acrylics and watercolour. We change our exhibitions at least monthly to ensure a varied programme throughout the year and hold a number of one-week exhibitions to showcase the work of individual members or small groups. This enables us to give all our members year-round exposure that would be impossible in a commercial gallery.
The continuous programme of exhibitions is at the heart of what we do, but during the last ten years we have also run a number of arts-related activities at the gallery and offsite. These have included projects with local schools, very popular evening lectures and poetry readings, weekend workshops in the gallery, demonstration days in our garden and outreach work with disadvantaged adults and young people. An exciting new venture is our partnership with the Place Theatre in Bedford, where their foyer has been developed for us as an additional exhibition space.
We are proud of what we have achieved - not least because we have survived the worst recession in recent history and seen sales increase year-on-year. As we receive no financial support and employ no staff, almost everything we do, we do ourselves - from staffing the gallery and hanging the shows to maintaining the garden and cleaning the toilet!
We can achieve this because all our members are committed to our co-operative ethos. Although we have a small and effective management committee elected each year, our success has been built on the willingness of members to share in every aspect of running the gallery. They contribute their ideas, expertise and time in seemingly unlimited amounts! In return, they have the exclusive use of a very professional exhibition space where the public can see, admire and buy beautiful, original, locally made artwork at reasonable prices.