Covid 19 – An Update

We’re all very aware of the current global situation – in the UK we’re three weeks into a six week lockdown, and everything is exceedingly unsure.

As Failbetter is primarily an artists’ studio space funded entirely by the artist studio holders and any donations that come in, I’ve been holding off on making any kind of statement until I had more of an idea of what the future held. I’ve realised that, by that logic, I may never actually address this particular elephant in the middle of the room.

The use of the space is down to the individual artist studio holders – if they are able to safely get to and use their studios then it is their personal choice. However I am recommending that they work from home wherever possible.

My current concerns are keeping the space operating for the studioholders to be able to return to. As such this has led to the postponement of the residency programme for this year and I’m considering other means of supporting artists. All public facing events have also been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Stay safe everybody, and hopefully we’ll be back doing gloriously random activities and providing a safe space to experiment very soon.


The Mann Archive

Part of our residency ethos is that it’s entirely about supporting an artist. The results of the residencies are often art based, but we also provide more practical support when necessary.


When Anita Mann began her residency the focus was very much on her archive, a constantly increasing collection of images, objects and sound recordings. She had been collecting this material for over 10 years, and wanted the support to:

  • Properly catalogue the archive
  • find both physical and digital storage solutions for the archive
  • Work out a means of exhibiting the archive

To fund this we’ve set up a Kickstarter campaign – click here


The eventual aim for the archive is for it to be a free to use resource. It’s especially important to preserve this as it covers such a broad swathe of life in the Midlands – it documents over ten years of both the emerging and established arts organisations in Birmingham including well established galleries such as Ikon and BMAG together with recording the activities of smaller groups, pop up galleries, one off events, student shows and the establishment of Digbeth and Minerva Works as hotbeds of cultural activity.

The most significant aspect of The Mann Archive is it’s placement of everything within it’s proper context – it shows everything alongside what else was happening at that time. The exhibitions of a pop up gallery are treated in the same way as the output of a major organisation, and these are presented in a social context with documentation of the changing face of the city, advertisements, people, cars, posters… as a piece of Birmingham’s art history it is extraordinary, but it’s wider social history connotations are absolutely unique.

The results of Anita’s residency, therefore, is not an event or exhibition but assistance to set up and run a Kickstarter for the very essential space and equipment to properly preserve and catalogue the archive and find a more permanent storage solution. Failbetter will also be continuing to work with Anita to devise a format for exhibiting the archives content.

Goodbye 18, Hello 19

What an amazing year – thanks to the generosity of our Kickstarter Backers and the hard work of our team we were able to hold some fantastic events and support some extraordinary artists over 2018, including Libby Cufley, Aleks Wojtulewicz, Sophie Bancroft, David Checkley and Fiona Shaw. Our Associate Producers also used the space to develop their practices, including Marcus Keating’s wonderful queer-art exhibition Torch Bearing, Ed Wakfield’s extraordinary residency Feel Better At Fail Better and Magdalena Jasiak’s achingly beautiful No Strings Attached


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Out of the residencies also came a longer term project – The Mann Archive – working with Anita Mann to establish and preserve the mass of information documenting Birmingham’s art community over the past ten years.

Here’s to 2019!

Following the success of last years residency programme, Failbetter is ECSTATIC to announce the artists we’ll be working with in 2019!

March – Helena De Reybekill

April – Paul Aleksander

May – Orchestrer or Not

June – Karolina Korupczynska

August – Ana M. aka Anna Mills

October – Hannah Mary

Keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds for more details as they come!

Open Studios & Offsite Catch Up

We’re delighted to be taking part in the inaugural Birmingham Open Studios, happening over the weekend of 3rd/4th August and including studios across the city, giving everyone the chance for a nosey at the workplaces of some of the cities finest artists.

On Saturday 4th we’ll be open 12-5 for you to pop along and have a chat with the artists working in Failbetter.

The following day Directors Vicky Roden and Alex Billingham will be at The Indian Brewery, Snowhill from 2-5. Join us to talk future programming, planned events and potential ideas and collaborations!

See you soon!

Launch Event



Following our rebuild it’s time for our launch event! Join us Saturday 10th February from 7pm-9pm for an exhibition of work by current studioholders and our management team, curated by Alex Billingham.

The exhibition then continues until 18th February by appointment. Drop us a line if you fancy popping down!

The Old Wig with a New Team

Failbetter has risen from The Wig, established in 2011 as “A Fluid Space for Experimental Practice”. The last member of the original team left in 2014, and the subsequent three years saw it remain artists studios with an ongoing, albeit loose, program of residencies and one-off events.

Following last years run of GESTALT residencies it became clear the space was in dire need of renovation and redesigning. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, studio manager Vicky Roden worked with Alex Billingham who designed and oversaw construction of the new space, improving its flexibility and facilities.

Failbetter now consists of a large Project Space with a bar/storage and two moveable walls and seven large studio spaces. The new management team consists of:

  • Vicky Roden (Director)
  • Alex Billingham (Deputy Director)
  • Magdalena Jasiak (Associate Producer)
  • Marcus Keating (Associate Producer)
  • Ed Wakefield (Associate Producer)