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Cultivate: Look Again's Creative Industries development programme in North East Scotland

Cushions from Small Stories

The Look Again Festival of Visual Art & Design in Aberdeen is an important event in the North East’s calendar.

The festival produces a high quality annual visual art and design event in Aberdeen, for the people of Aberdeen and beyond.

This year, from 7 - 16 June 2019, the Look Again Festival programme is activating spaces in Aberdeen city centre through the power of creativity with a series of thought-provoking visual art and design installations and events.

But the festival isn’t the only way that creativity is being supported and explored in Aberdeen with the help of Creative Scotland funding support.

Working with with Robert Gordon University and SMART Arts Agency, the Look Again organisation developed the Cultivate pilot programme which sought to develop and support the Creative Industries community in the North East of Scotland, by aiming to create a better understanding of the challenges facing creative businesses, encouraging more ‘joined up thinking’ across the sector, and improving connectivity, with the hope of encouraging talent retention in the North East.

Supported by Creative Scotland this took the form of a business mentoring programme, two professional development events, and a sharing event.

Cultivate in action: Small Stories

Artist Gabi Reith is one of the beneficiaries of the Cultivate programme. Gabi is well known in North East Scotland for her clothing, homeware and public art based on playful illustrations and storytelling.

Gabi’s business, Small Stories, is now set for further expansion after receiving specialist business mentoring in 2018 through Look Again’s Cultivate pilot programme supported by Creative Scotland.

Gabi said that receiving specialist mentoring support has made a real difference to the development of her creative business.

She explained: “The business mentoring support was invaluable in helping me identify a clear direction for my business, focus my energy and see the potential growth.

"We developed an activity plan which highlighted the investment I needed to make in my website, brand and collections. I feel so much more in control of my business and excited for the future – especially as sales have been growing steadily!”

Kirsty Scott of Weave Consult, a specialist business consultant who has worked with Gabi, highlighted the importance of taking a longer term view.

She said: “Running a small creative business is hard work and it’s important to look at how to make the business work most effectively. This can take time, many businesses have seasonal sales so it can take a year or longer to see the results.”

“Small Stories is a great example of how investing in the business has then allowed Gabi to grow retail and trade sales, and ultimately focus more on the creative process that drives her business forward."

Creative Scotland is continuing to support the development of creative businesses in Aberdeen and the North East through the Look Again Cultivate/ Activate project, running to the end of 2020.

This article was published on 10 Apr 2019