Mutual Affinities: Learning Lab pilot programme

Applications closed

Creative Scotland and Counterpoints Arts are working together to deliver the Mutual Affinities Learning Lab pilot programme for artists.

Led by Counterpoints Arts, the primary goal of the Mutual Affinities Learning Lab is to listen to artists in Scotland who have first-hand experience of displacement and enable them to sustain and develop their practice in dialogue with invited arts and community organisations located and working across Scotland.

Artists and organisations will be expected to participate in the Mutual Affinities Learning Lab programme over the course of 4.5 days between May and June 2022. The programme will be delivered in a hybrid format both online and in-person.

An installation of a destroyed car in the middle of a leafy street

Rubble Theatre, Manaf Halbouni, St Enoch Square, Glasgow, Scottish Refugee Festival, Counterpoints Arts Production (Photo by Basharat Khan, 2019). Commissioned by Creative Scotland.


Key dates

  • 27 May – Online (half day)
  • 3 June – Online (full day, divided into two blocks)
  • 10 June – Online (full day, divided into two blocks)
  • 16 - 18 June – In-person (taking place at Deveron Projects, arriving in the afternoon/evening of 16th, leaving on morning of 18th)

Artists will be supported to participate in the programme with a bursary of £1,250.


The Mutual Affinities Learning Lab will implement a ‘think and do’ collaborative approach. It will include creative workshops and group challenges, live case studies and mentoring. The aim is to deepen understanding of how to support artists with lived experience of displacement, enabling cultural organisations and artists to work together to mutual benefit.

The initiative is designed so that participants can learn and unlearn together, to imagine what progressive support structures for artists with lived experience of displacement might look like in practice and into the future.  It will include contributions from international practitioners – artists, curators, activists and researchers - to stimulate ideas about local to global practices and new models of collaborative working. Please see below for more details about the programme and the range of visiting artists and facilitators.

Application Process

The structure of the programme is outlined below:

  1. Application by artists by 26 April 2022
  2. Selection process by panel
  3. Mutual Affinities Learning Lab Programme commences over 2.5 days online
  4. Final 2-day session to take place in person at Deveron Projects, Huntly, Scotland

Selection Process

The selection panel will comprise representatives from Counterpoints Arts, Deveron Projects, Creative Scotland plus artists with experience of displacement based in Scotland.

The selection criteria will consider:

  • The applicant’s work and track record
  • The potential benefit to the applicant through taking part
  • The perspective the applicant can bring to the programme

The panel will select candidates against a balance of art forms, different stages in career, geographic spread and the potential benefit to the applicant.

Applicants who are not selected will be able to have a follow up conversation with an EDI team member at Creative Scotland.

Time Commitment

Artists and organisations will be expected to participate in this Learning Lab programme on the dates noted above, with a commitment to do some small pieces of reflective work between sessions.

How to Apply

Applications closed on 26 April.

Invited candidates will be notified on Tuesday 3 May.

Important to note

We can accept applications in video or audio format (including applications in BSL) for those with access needs.

We can also accept applications in a physical format for those without internet access.

If you have any questions regarding the programme and wish to discuss this further, please contact

The Mutual Affinities Learning Lab is directed by Áine O’Brien, Curator of Learning and Research and Co-Founder, Counterpoints Arts, London, UK

Visiting facilitators and artists include:

  • Natalia Palombo, Director, Deveron Projects, Huntly, Scotland;
  • Dominik Czechowski, International Curator, Researcher and Writer, UK/Poland;
  • Abdullah al Kafri, Director, Ettijahat – Independent Culture, Beirut, Lebanon;
  • Sally Watkins, Co-Artistic Director, B-Side, Isle of Portland, UK;
  • Isabel Lima, Gresham Horse Project, Newcastle, UK;
  • Kit Braybrooke, Digital Anthropologist, Habitat Unit at Technische Universität, Berlin;
  • Nike Jonah, Executive Director of PACE (Pan-African Creative Exchange);
  • Elham Khattab, Director, Out of the Circle, Cairo and a member of the Tasawar Collective;
  • Stuart Cameron, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Creative Scotland.

The participating organisations in the project include:

  • Alchemy Film and Arts
  • Art27
  • Deveron Projects
  • Govanhill Baths
  • Highland Print Studio

The aim is to explore a range of interconnected areas related to challenges and opportunities emerging through the creative practice of artists who have experienced displacement and the work that organisations might do to support artists’ interests and ambitions.

Some of these areas might include:

  • Local to global practices through forms of cooperative commissioning - what might that mean in practice?
  • The art and scope of ‘collectives’ – how do they grow and what is their value?
  • Cross-sector mentoring – why is it relevant and what does it enable?
  • Digital imaginaries, storytelling and mutual aid  - post-pandemic, what is the scope for digital work and why?
  • Neighbourhoods and diversity of place – why is place-based work increasingly important and what ‘place’ might mean to artists who have experienced displacement?
  • New modes of networking and infrastructures – is it time to think of new ways of working across and with communities to build local/global solidarities?

How Mutual Affinities came about:

The Mutual Affinities Learning Lab provides a unique opportunity for artists and organisations to collaborate in a dedicated learning programme – for artists to take this learning into their creative practice and for organisations to apply this learning to their everyday programming strategies/ways of working; and for artists and organisations to imagine together new projects and ways of working. The programme has been developed through a partnership between Creative Scotland and Counterpoints Arts, when in 2019 Counterpoints Arts led a discussion with representatives in the Scottish culture sector. The general consensus in 2019 was the need for a better understanding of how different cultural contexts, languages and employment patterns impact on an artist’s ability to sustain a career path; and on an organisation’s delivery frameworks and ability to engage with the richness and range of creative practices that are shaped by intergenerational histories of displacement and migration.

Image information

Rubble Theatre, Manaf Halbouni, St Enoch Square, Glasgow, Scottish Refugee Festival, Counterpoints Arts Production (Photo by Basharat Khan, 2019). Commissioned by Creative Scotland.

Halbouni’s work was commissioned to sit on the square in Glasgow in public view, with the artist and installation engaging in conversations with passersby. Halbouni’s cars (which have travelled across several cities in Europe) appear overloaded with personal possessions, resembling mobile living rooms, like ‘impossible houses’ offering moving tributes and testaments to loss, resilience and hope for displaced communities around the world.