Local charity and record label bring recording studio to Cowley Centre

Credit: Glasshertz Photo

Fusion Arts and Upcycled Sounds have launched a pop-up recording studio, community gig and exhibition space in Cowley Centre. 

The space has been built in one of a number of disused shops awaiting redevelopment and was opened on July 17 with a sold-out gig and exhibition.

The project is a collaboration between Fusion Arts, an Oxford charity, Upcycled Sounds, a local audio production team, artist collective and record label, with support from the landlords New River, Oxford City Council and Templar Square Shopping Centre team.

The space opened with a sold-out night of neo-soul, folk and alternative music from local Upcycled Sounds Records artists, Theo, Rosie Caldecott, Limpet Space Race and Jay Sunaway, alongside a collage exhibition from local artist Kelvin Jenkins. 

Upcycled Sounds is an independent audio production company, record label and artist collective based in Oxford for several years. As well as working around the world doing film and documentary sound, they are at the heart of several non-profit music initiatives in Oxford: a three-day music festival, a new venue and gig series at Tap Social, Tandem Arts Collective and annual international folk music exchange programmes and electronic music residentials. They have been running a recording studio and record label in East Oxford for the last year and are delighted to be teaming up with Fusion Arts to transform a larger space. 

Hannah Jacobs, of Upcycled Sounds, said: “It was amazing to open our doors to so many excited people. The launch was packed out and we had a great night of music, art and conversations. People were blown away by how the space has transformed from a dilapidated empty shop to a colourful, vibey and inspiring studio – it’s almost unrecognisable! We’ve already had loads of people coming forward with creative ideas and projects for the space, so we’ve got lots to look forward to”. 

The space has been completely transformed over the last few weeks by the Upcycled Sounds Collective and Fusion Arts teams. They have cleaned up, re-structured, soundproofed and decorated the shop entirely themselves, in line with Upcycled Sounds’ strong DIY and eco-friendly approach. Alongside state-of-the-art audio equipment, they are sourcing sustainable materials from local organisations RAW Workshop, Oxford Wood Recycling, Emmaus and Orinoco Scrapstore. One of the baffles is even triple upcycled from the remains of a previous Tandem Festival stage, originally made of rescued floorboards.

Credit: Glasshertz Photo

Kieran Cox, Artistic Director of Fusion Arts, said: “We chose to work with Upcycled Sounds as, like Fusion Arts, they are committed to DIY creativity, experimentation and diverse cultural programming. They run so many inspiring creative initiatives, supporting and developing artists,  with positive social and environmental impact at the core. We want to support their work through this residency space and allow them to develop further and keep creating inspirational, high-quality music.”

Fusion Arts is an Oxford arts, equality and education charity. For more than 40 years they have connected artists with communities and inspired hundreds of bespoke creative projects.  Fusion Arts works with artists, organisations, communities and landlords to enrich lives by opening up underused spaces across Oxford to create temporary and permanent places for artists and communities to make, show, participate in and experience arts together. 

Mary Clarkson, Oxford City Council Cabinet Member for Culture and City Centre, said: “We are excited to see pop up initiatives like this in Oxford – especially where the theme is art, culture and performance. We want to encourage more landlords to think about offering empty commercial property for pop-ups and events like this, which provide spaces for people to experience their local area differently, and engage with the diverse cultural communities in the city. We’re pleased to be working with Fusion Arts as one of our long-standing commissioned cultural partners.”