AN INNOVATIVE project which has transformed some of York's empty offices into artists' studios has been a "God-send" for creative groups in the city.

The Blank Canvas project kicked off in July, aiming to help York's artists by finding them affordable places to work and now organisers are hopeful that their work can continue through 2016.

Cath Brooke, from the project's managers Skippko, said that since the project launched in July they had found uses for four empty venues ranging from a shops on Gillygate and in Acomb to offices at Monks Cross and in Stonebow House in the city centre.

Blank Canvas works by giving landlords chance to let their properties in the short term until they find permanent tenants, while giving artists low cost spaces to work in.

The Gillygate shop has hosted exhibitions and children's theatre over Halloween, and Cath said: "Artists have told me it's been a really nice way for the public to see what they are doing, without going to a formal gallery."

Stonebow House has given a home to Anonymous Bosh theatre company, arts collective Plastic Fortune, and the Arts Barge project.

Hannah West, who helps run the Arts Barge's space in Stonebow House, said: "It's been fantastic for us, an absolute God-send.

"To have had this as a base, and been able to invite other artists in - we've been completely made up with it. It's got the best views in York, it's central, and it's cheap, so we can't really ask for more."

As many as 24 artists or groups have used the Arts Barge's one floor, working on art from ceramics to textile art and mixed media work, to illustration and large scale oil paintings.

Although the Arts Barge have recently found out they need to vacate their floor and give the space back to the owners, they have been able to move many of their artists onto the fourth floor, a space that until recently was being used by students from York St John University.

Finding that affordable space, even for a short term, is particularly valuable in York, Hannah said.

She added: "Space is at an extra premium in York. It is easier in cities with an industrial background but in York we don't particularly have empty warehouses or factories. In other towns, artists can take over buildings for very little money, often for years and years, and really transform an area. That's not really the case in York."

In the future Cath said they hope to find more spaces for Blank Canvas to use in York.

"It's a very organic process - we get offered places and sometimes they work out, sometimes they don't," she said.

"I think there's a real demand for projects like this, there's been a lot of interest."