Why Paint the Town Grey needs a pilot study

Why Paint the Town Grey needs a Pilot Study


Before we at Paint the Town Grey embark on a full blown project, I think it is essential that we embark on a pilot study beforehand.

Proposed name: Cobalt Studios


Stockton High Street; as with the rest of the project, we need a location that is as high profile as possible, maximum footfall and visibility in order to establish the brand as quickly and as efficiently as possible.


Small empty shop, enough for one artist and/or one settee and one desk for volunteer i.e. me, to use while the studio is open. It would be better if the location was two storey’s as this would allow us to have an open public gallery downstairs and an artist area upstairs until the artist is comfortable enough to work while being watched.

Preferred locations

The shops next to Cooplands on the corner of Prince Regent Street or the shop formerly known as Neil Sinclair’s are small enough and well located but I recommend a visit with the estate agents would help.

Advantages of a pilot study.

A pilot study will allow us to see if the project is actually viable before we spend hours and hours and hours on the drawing board. Learning to ride a bike or drive a car is done in the car, on the bike, not with pads and paper.

It will be easier to set up, there will be less red tape involved and much less planning

As this is a new venture it is much easier to raise a small amount of grant money for a pilot study than waiting for months for a huge grant to be approved.

People, the general public are more likely to donate a small amount in the first instance and then return with a greater amount once we have some figures to show that (if) the pilot study is successful.

A pilot study will be far quicker to set up and get started.

If we go ‘big’ too quickly we have far more ‘egg on our faces’ than if we start small and build. I envisage that Paint the Town Grey will offers space to house five or six artists within the first year, so why not trial it with one or two artists? I hope that we grow to at least 20 artists and service users within three year, there is no way we can start this size. If we call it stage 1, stage 2, etc we can build, if we go this is the finished article and it goes wrong we have nowhere to go.

We will be able to use ‘trial and error’ to finely tune the product and approach we use, we will be able to learn from our mistakes, see Marks and Spencer’s who started in Teesside.

I would personally refer to let down 2 artists with mental health issues than ten artists.

There is no way we can possibly deliver a ‘finished’ project from a plan.

A pilot study will give us some idea of costs involved. Currently we have no idea what to include in our grant application as we have no idea how much anything will cost, utilities. There are an awful lot of ‘hidden’ costs and I don’t want to have to close a successful project because we fail to recognise a cost that only becomes apparent once we are up and running.

A pilot study will get the brand out into the public domain. None of us have enough social media followers to do an effective market research study. From my Lean Start up course asking friend and family is not an accurate indication of whether the idea will work.

A pilot study will get the brand of PTTG known to artists within the Stockton area.

A pilot study will get the brand of PTTG known to people with mental health issues (MHI) within the Stockton area.

Could encourage people with mental health issues to begin to meet at Cobalt Studio’s. Currently a whole range of activities and groups for people with MHI occur at other places in Stockton.  By setting up with a pilot study we could start to draw people away from  other establishments and into using Cobalt Studios.

A pilot study will allow us to start raising funds. Currently, I do not have a location to start to make crowd funding videos. A small shop with an upstairs room will allow me to invite artists in to video them without the pressure of being watched by members of the public.

Using a small establishment in Stockton will give us a stock of materials to sell. Currently we have no stock to put on the walls. If we suddenly open and expect artists to slave away to donate this is not as good as starting small and building.

If we rent a small building for a few weeks or a month we will have a building where the trustees can have adhoc meetings. I spent £10 at the last meeting on coffee and drinks and Suzie wasn’t even there, a small building can be negotiated by Hammonds for approximately double that figure every week. We would be able to collect donations from a box, safely placed inside the door or in a locked cupboard, (banked regularly) to cover rent and materials.

When talking to Vicky of Navigator North, they started by organising a few short residencies in various locations before they established Navigator North.

If we rent a building for a month, we will (hopefully) get a reference from a landlord to use to move to bigger premises.

A pilot study will allow us to begin to recruit volunteers to work within the ‘Cobalt Studios’ and it is easier to start with one or two volunteers than find that we need ten to find and train.

People with MHI, especially ones with anxiety, are more likely to ‘come on board’ to a project that is already up and running and has a base to start from than one that relies on untested hypothesis.

When I was doing business start-up with Five lamps they had lots of stories of people getting lumbered with huge expenses that took years to pay off. I know it is slightly different but a small scale practice run has so many benefits.

I will hopefully get a significant percentage towards a pilot study from Stockton Soup whereas maybe £50 won’t contribute anything towards a full-blown enterprise.

Letting down two or three artists with MHI who have been promised a studio for a month than letting ten artists down who have been promised a studio for a year.

Major film companies do small pilot studies of film endings before releasing the film to a huge audience to make sure they get the most popular ending.

Shoe companies make a prototype and test it to the limit rather than simply launching a finished product. As do many, many other manufacturers.

Shops sell a product in a few selected shops before rolling it out to the whole country.

The best jobs, and the jobs I was happiest in, have all been where I worked as a volunteer first so I knew what to expect. Also if the job is not to your liking you can stop before you commit to a contract.

Durham worked as a volunteer first – great job

Middlesbrough – straight in and hated it

North Eastern Rubbish – got told after 2 weeks, “you do realise you’ve probably made the biggest mistake of your life working here”

York – moved my family and hated it.

Macmillan, voluntary – great

Evode – worked on a temporary contract so could walk out at any time, great job started for 2 weeks lasted for 9 months, very happy with very little pressure, I worked better because I was happier.

The pressure to make a small scale pilot study work will be miniscule compared to a project where we launch to a fanfare and announce ‘this is it folks’ and don’t forget I have anxiety issues and mental health problems so a pilot study and a much lower ‘cost’ to it not working is preferable to a ‘this is it, we have to make it work’ pressure.

I think we’d be mad not to consider a pilot study, especially when working with people with mental health issues.

I attach some links for you to read.

The power of the ‘pilot’ – 3 reasons why you should test your new business before launch





Please promote this brilliant cause

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