Cuckoo Farm Studios
Studio Space for Artists in Essex
NFASP Member Essex County Council


Welcome to Cuckoo Farm Studios

Cuckoo Farm Studios Ltd was formed in 1992, in converted farm buildings on the northern outskirts of the historical town of Colchester. We support emerging talent through our Graduate Award Scheme, and we continue to develop artists through professional development.

In order to enhance the experience of being part of our art community we have introduced two schemes; the Assist Scheme to help in the maintenance of our site and Basecamp as a communicaiton forum allowing the free flow of informaiotn between community members.

The Assist Scheme

The art community at Cuckoo Farm Studios Ltd. (CFS) rents its premises and pays for the cost of services. As a means of keeping rents low the Assist Scheme was introduced in 2017 as an integral part of the license agreement between  CFS and artists. The scheme has sought to formalise and distribute the often casual and unrecorded work that community members undertake to keep the fabric and grounds of CFS in good order and take on regular administrative duties. 

The scheme works by proposing that the tenants of each studio contribute 40 hours of voluntary work per year beginning on the 1st June. Most studios house one person only, but some are shared and the Print Workshop has up to 18 members. If the 40 hours limit is not reached, the studio will be charged a sum to cover the voluntary hours lost to CFS. If the 40 hours are exceeded, tenants can trade them with other studios. Assist hours do not have to be worked by studio tenants; a friend or partner with specific skills could undertake the voluntary hours on the behalf of tenants.

The Assist Scheme is not obligatory as studio tenants have the option of making a financial contribution to CFS if they do not want to contribute hours of voluntary work. Each Assist hour is regarded as worth £10. Therefore, a tenant who chooses to undertake limited or no work in the specified period would be charged up to £400 at the end of the Assist year. A method of collecting the sum concerned is currently under consideration, but reasonably speaking, small sums would be expected as one-off payments and larger sums may be added to the rent amount in the following Assist year.  Where a tenant leaves CFS part way through an Assist year, they will be presented with a one-off bill for any Assist hours they have not undertaken, calculated on a pro-rata basis.

It is necessary for studio tenants to notify the number and purpose of their Assist Hours to the scheme administrator for the purposes of running the scheme and to give the managing Committee of CFS an overview of what work has been undertaken.

It is hoped to extend the Assist Scheme further by profiling the abilities and skill levels of tenants so that more challenging jobs can be undertaken, thus making larger savings to the running costs of the site.



Basecamp ( is an application providing a closed communication forum for CFS tenants.  New users are logged onto the system by an administrator. This action generates an email to the user which is their means to entering the system.  Like most apps entry to Basecamp is password protected. 


Depending upon the user’s profile, they are directed to various ‘projects’ within the system. CFS artist-tenants are the main group and can communicate with each other as can Print Workshop members, but there is limited communication between the various projects. This ensures that group discussions between peers can proceed unhindered. Within each project, leaders exist who can receive communications from all projects and can thus pass on necessary information to their own group.


Any member of the community can start a discussion and can attach computer files or images to their written message. Other tenants within the project group are alerted to the discussion via an email to their home devices. Group discussions encompass all aspects of the community’s life from access to cleaning materials to social events and studio re-allocations. 


Basecamp holds a library of documents such as the minutes of the various meetings needed to run CFS and is the means by which the community is alerted to the dates of such meetings. Attendance at certain meetings is an obligatory requirement under the lease agreement. Also available is information on health and safety issues and such matters as the annual accounts.