Circular Arts Network

Photo of Kate V Robertson in her studio with art materials
Kate V Robertson, Co Director at SPG, in her studio

Circular Arts Network: A circular economy tool for the arts

Circular Arts Network (CAN) is a brand new online platform for redistributing spare, used or surplus materials, exchanging skills and labour, and coordinating transport.

This circular economy tool is designed it to be a ‘go-to’ location to help people working in the arts to reuse and recycle easily, while also supporting other sectors to recycle their excess materials in a different way.

As CAN will help share transport, equipment, time and other necessities, it is hoped that this will help users make the most of their time and resources and work more sustainably for the benefit of both their pockets and the planet.

CAN reduces waste and offers pathways for individuals, companies and organisations to support their local arts community, by providing an opportunity for those working in the arts and creative industries a chance to reclaim materials or find resources for their latest projects or productions.

The tool has been developed by Sculpture Placement Group (SPG) along with SCAN (Scottish Contemporary Art Network), to encourage sustainable practices within the arts, and to address the economic and practical challenges of making sculpture.

CAN's success depends on there being sufficient supply and demand, so do please consider taking the time to use it. Read on to find out how!

How to use CAN

CAN is very easy to use. For any surplus materials you have, or any resources you think could be listed, all you need to do is:

  1. Create an account
  2. Add your listing including a title, description and type of material
  3. Upload an image
  4. Specify when and where items are to be collected

Remember, artists will find a use for anything and everything – one organisation's rubbish is an artist’s raw materials!

Talking to the CAN

Photo of David Batchelor in his studio, photo by Lucy Dawkins
David Batchelor in his studio, photo by Lucy Dawkins

SPG place the experience of the artist at the centre of their projects. So they are speaking to a series of artists about their work, illustrating the types of reuse and repurposing that CAN will be able to facilitate.

Their first chat was with Scottish sculptor and writer David Batchelor who uses materials found in his searches around the streets of London in a commitment to examining colour and the latent histories of an object.

Creating CAN

Kate V Robertson is Co Director at SPG and has been central to the development of CAN.

Kate said: “We are really excited about the launch of CAN - there's been a huge amount of enthusiasm for the project from all those who have fed into the development and design process, both from within the arts community and beyond.

"I know personally this is a resource that I have longed for, for sourcing unusual or waste materials to use within my own practice and for sharing resources or knowledge, and we also recognise how keen people across the board are for using their resources in a more sustainable way.

"Our aspiration is that CAN will be a common framework and the ‘go-to’ site for many different art forms, practitioners and organisations, to strengthen and support sustainable working. It's also a great opportunity to get input from other sectors such as construction and manufacturing, who may also have plenty to offer the arts community by way of surplus materials.”

Photo of Kate Robertson
Photo of Kate V Robertson, by Ruth Clark

CAN is administered by Sculpture Placement Group (SPG), a Community Interest Company based in Scotland. SPG finds ways to make cultural resources last longer, benefit more people and be more sustainable.

CAN was developed by SPG and SCAN (Scottish Contemporary Art Network) in 2019/20. SCAN is a member led network committed to championing and supporting the contemporary art sector in Scotland. Their vision is that the role, impact and benefits of contemporary visual arts are widely recognised as central to society and that sector professionals based in Scotland are informed, innovative and supported to achieve their ambitions.

CAN was developed during a research period funded by Creative Scotland, and received support from SCAN, Santander, the Awesome Glasgow Fund and through SPG's Friends’ Scheme. Visit the website for details on how to support CAN.

This article was published on 31 Aug 2020