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Workshops Week: Bringing artists together across Scotland

(Image: Beth Bate, Director of DCA, by Alberto Bernasconi)

Scotland’s Workshops is a network of visual arts production facilities all across the country. The spaces give both artists and newcomers access to an amazing array of equipment, studio spaces and unique technical expertise to create and learn about art. This year, the first ever Workshops Week took place from 16 – 23 November 2019.

We spoke to Beth Bate, Director of DCA, to find out more.

Tell us about Workshops Week – what’s the premise and where did the idea come from?

Workshops Week is a nationwide initiative that profiles the work of Scotland’s Workshops, eleven organisations with incredible production facilities that support the work of artists at all stages of their careers. We want to encourage people to find out more about what we do and how they can get involved, making and sharing and learning about art. We’ve also created a new website -  www.scotlandsworkshops.com - that celebrates the wealth of activity that takes place at all our facilities and Workshops Week was a great opportunity to launch this.

One of Scotland’s Workshops’ aims is to increase the profile for what we do and coming together for a special week where we can highlight the incredible range of what’s on offer and encourage people, particularly newcomers, to see what we do seemed like a great start.

Activities took place all across Scotland – how did you find the challenge of coordinating a nationwide project?

There is always huge amount going on at all of our organisations, from workshops to classes to drop in sessions, as well as the making and creating that our members and users do, day in day out.

There’s lots of additional activity too, particularly with guided tours, to encourage people who are perhaps less familiar with what we do to come and get involved. Although we are mostly very geographically spread, everyone has been very keen to get involved and showcase what we all do.

What are the learning objectives for this week?

This has been an opportunity for us to work together and communicate widely about what we do. We’re keen to see new people some through the door and generate press interest and social media conversations about our work.

We were pleased to have a motion tabled in the Scottish parliament at the end of last week in support of Scotland’s’ Workshops and Workshops Week, highlighting the important work we do.

What role do you think workshops play in the wider arts sector?

Scotland’s Workshops are a unique resource supporting hundreds of artists and members of the public to make work every day, every week, every year. The production facilities support the development of world-class work in sculpture, print and photography with expert staff, specialist tools and equipment and an open and accessible welcome for everyone.

Much of the production of contemporary art in Scotland is underpinned by the vital resources the network provides. Individually and collectively, Scotland’s Workshops make a significant contribution to the country’s reputation as an international centre for artistic and creative excellence.

What’s next?

As well as continuing to raise the profile of Scotland’s Workshops, we will be advocating for our work and the impact we have across local, national and international communities. We will also be planning more work together as a network that supports each other, our staff and our users to ensure we can continue to create impact for years to come.

This article was published on 26 Nov 2019