the portland inn project

The Portland Inn Project CIC is a creative arts project for a community in Stoke On Trent with an aim to achieve community cohesion, economic, social and cultural development by involving the community in development of a pioneering community space, cultural hub and social enterprise.

The Portland Inn Project CIC (PIPCIC) is cited as an exemplar project of people led change, in an underrepresented part of the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

In 2016 The project delivered an ACE funded Summer programme; testing future uses of an old pub building before its community asset transfer in 2018. In the same year, the project ran Raise The Roof, to co-build a temporary space with Baxendale Architects. The space and its ACE funded programme was shortlisted for The RIBA MacEwen Award, recognising ‘Architecture for the common good’.

PIPCIC was one of the winners of the White Gold International Ceramics Prize, 2020, and cited as best practice within the Local Government Association white paper ‘People, Culture, Place’. PIPCIC was the recipient of the Cultural Champions of the Year award at the BBC Stoke Make a Difference Awards, 2019 and Community Group of the Year, 2023. In 2024 it was one of the winners of the British Journal of Photography Portrait of Britain.

In 2019, PIPCIC worked within the Local Trust Creative Civic Change programme. The three year award enabled the organisation to grow its team, establish a Community Decision Making panel, and deliver a community-based year-round calendar of activity and skills development with and for the Portland Street area from The Pippin, an adapted shipping container. This multi year funding supported the organisation to grow and sustain its ambitious work in the neighbourhood. In 2023, the organisation was successful with its application to Arts Council England to become a National Portfolio Organisation.

PIP’s deeply embedded, progressive approach has helped us deliver a collaborative architectural plan and raise significant funding for a pioneering cultural space in the neighbourhood, the first of its kind in the city. Renovation began in October 2023. Once opened in 2025, it will enable us to scale up and diversify our offer to a city-wide audience.

A short presentation from our Co-director from 2020

Central to our programming are creative and community organisation activities. Key themes include self-representation (using methods such as film, animation, design and printing). We deliver to all ages, with sports workshops also being available to the young people in the area. Learning and exchanging transferable skills is another area we are developing with community members; something that happens through the development of projects such as the Portland Pigeon, which is a key part of our growing social enterprise. Another vital strand to our project is developing skills in the community (social organising, cooking, gardening), which can support activity and events and help the project to thrive. We have a food strand that is growing in our organisation, supporting community members of all ages to develop skills in preparing and cooking nutritious and affordable meals. Our work is about long-term sustainability, development of core and embedded skills for the future of the project and the community. People led change and social and environmental justice for all.

The Portland Campaign

This is a collaborative delivery led by artists Anna Francis and Rebecca Davies with Alice Thatcher, Katrina Wilde and residents of Portland Street and the surrounding streets.

The project is supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery and partners with AirSpace Gallery, Engage, Appetite and Stoke City Council.