• Maketank

    a cultural laboratory


    We are on a mission

    Maketank is an artist-led grassroots organisation. Its mission is to build a sustainable community-based platform for performance practitioners within the city to pioneer experimentation, collaboration, and creative civic engagement.


    Maketank aims to provide space for local artists to keep in practice, create new performance work, and exchange knowledge and resources.

    We see Maketank as an invitation to:

    • devising, with a flexible open-floor plan; adaptable to  embodied practices such as dance, physical theatre,  and immersive performance
    • workshop spaces for prop, set, object making of different kinds
    • a rehearsal space for local and visiting companies and artists 
    • a central location for creative community to think, meet, share ideas in co-working or conferencing environments

    Who is it for?

    Maketank is open to artists across disciplines: theatre, live art, experimental music, dance, performance writing, performance poetry, scenography, expanded film and video, cabaret, site responsive and site specific interventions, participatory and social practice, etc.





    Where is it happening?

    Maketank is located at 3-5 Paris Street, Exeter EX1 2JB. On a ground floor it has a large rehearsal & workshop space for costume/scenography making, co-working area, and on the upper floor it has co-working Writers Den space with tea/coffee service, and a bank of resources for artists to share with each other. ACCESSIBILITY: We are located at street level, and toilets are on the 2nd floor. There are accessible toilets approx 50m away at St Stephens House.

    Maketank is made possible with the support of the following organisations:


    Arts Council England

    Exeter Phoenix


    MacArthur Wilson

  • People

    who make it happen

    Olya Petrakova

    Artistic Director & Founder

    Olya Petrakova is an actor, director and creative industries practitioner with over fifteen years’ experience. With an emphasis on creative entrepreneurship, Olya specialises in transforming disused urban and rural spaces into performance venues. With a track record in producing, curating, and organising festivals and conferences, Olya is passionate about cross-disciplinary working and community engagement. In addition, Olya is co-Artistic Director of ARTEL (American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory), a visual theatre company and Lecturer/MA Creativity at the University of Exeter, College of Humanities.

    Amy Borchard


    Amy supports the development of cultural projects primarily in the Middle East and UK, bringing a skillset combining research and analysis, creative strategy, and management. A full-time Creative Consultant at Barker Langham Recruitment, Amy is responsible for leading consultancy workstreams relating to the development and delivery of governance, organisational design, Employer Value Propositions (EVP), recruitment, employee engagement and training strategies for clients. Amy graduated with a Distinction in MA Creativity: Innovation & Business Strategy from the University of Exeter, where she fell in love with Maketank while using it as a makerspace and team-building hub for several academic / community projects.

    Bryan Brown


    Bryan Brown is an artist-scholar, currently Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter & co-director of visual theatre company ARTEL (American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory). Recent academic writing includes A History of the Theatre Laboratory as well as “Educating the Director”, a co-authored extended chapter on Meyerhold for The Great European Stage Directors Vol. 2. He is also editorial board member of Theatre Dance and Performance Training and co-curator of the journal’s blog.

    Lindsay Warner


    Hello lovely people, my name is Lindsay and I am an advisor for Maketank. I also work full time at the University of Exeter in the student employability and academic development team. Arts and culture have always played a big role in my life, and I look forward to sharing this knowledge and passion with you all through Maketank!

    Lily Stevens



    Hello I’m Lily, I came to Maketank through the Internship programme in Autumn 2020, and have stayed on as an Advisor since. I am currently studying Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. Although I may be based in London I am South-West bred/bread. I like playing with metaphor so let me describe Maketank as dough for you: it is ever-shifting in form, it is a-live culture, it is warm, it is a co-fermented batter. So come taste! (Art matters)!

  • Our Story So Far...

    We've been on Paris Street since February 2019, here's what you might have missed:

    • A mini festival of new local work with 5 artists and artistic organisations (Living Spaces)

    • A sell out performance of Achilles by Company of Wolves

    • A pilot of The Writer’s Den to support writers in development

    • The establishment of a Performance Incubation Programme that has mentored & supported two new performances including the international collaboration On Leaving the House.

    • 6 networking/collaborative meetings with artists across disciplines. This has grown into the creation of a new Performance in Exeter (PiE) community of practice.

    • The co-creation and festival directorship of Kinder Exeter, a week-long celebration of compassion through play.

    • Provided space and mentorship for the first UK reading of Andrei Kureichik's Insulted. Belarus and the first and to-date only all female cast reading of the play as well as a window installation dedicated to the project.

    • We've had

      • 850+ audience members attending events at Maketank

      • 4,000+ viewings of window exhibits

      • 1,500+ viewings of online performances and events

    • We supported 24 artists/companies with block amounts of subsidised rehearsal space.

    • We established an 2019 internship programme which supported 5 interns to work with Maketank. This programme has continued throughout 2020/21 in various formats supporting over 30 interns all under 25.

    • We provided space for multiple community generated exhibitions

    • We provide space and support for Yalla Arts, a participatory community theatre project; Shumba arts, a creative cultural organisation; and various musicians and drumming projects related to Extinction Rebellion.

    • We ran a youth theatre program in 2019 called MakeNoise

    • We have also supported

      • 3 artists from communities with low engagement with the arts.

      • and provided visibility for 27 other live performance events and organisations within the city, through a window display and regular newsletter.

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