Artists Make a Better World: a month of member meet-ups

Our Membership Lead Helen Moore reflects on a month of meeting artists and arts organisations across the country, spreading the word about our Artists Make a Better World campaign.

Artists’ voices were central to our 2023 summer campaign Artists Make A Better world, which aimed to raise awareness of the amazing contribution that artists across the country make to our wellbeing. To help share campaign messages, we brought members together through the power of print and held a number of meet ups across Scotland, where we discussed local networks, rural working, the power of communities and the need for peer support.
For our Dumfries meet up, we partnered with SCAN member Upland, a fellow membership organisation who offer a year round programme delivering a range of projects, events and exhibitions working with young people, emerging and established artists and makers. As the visual arts and craft development organisation for Dumfries & Galloway, Upland aims to provide a network for learning and sharing, offering advice and support to creative practitioners whilst aiming to inspire and educate a wide range of audiences to participate in and be supportive of visual arts and crafts. Artist members were invited to join us at Gracefield Arts Centre and artist Sarah Keast provided us with excellent printmaking support in the workshop (above).

What was really striking about this meeting was recurring themes around perseverance. Although D&G has a strong identity as a creative region, members were keen to share experiences around how long it takes to establish a regular project or event, when perhaps attendance is low but engagement within that small audience is incredibly high. It’s really important to keep rolling and build that momentum. Lots of artists want to work in diverse ways and would love to be involved in developing the learning.

The next stop was Orkney where we had a long overdue catch up with SCAN members and friends. A productive meeting with Creative Orkney allowed us to learn more about the distinctive art and craft community, the ebb and flow of the tourist season and challenges that many face sustaining a creative practice whilst having caring responsibilities. Creative Orkney brings together traditional and contemporary professional craft makers in the region to promote, support and develop high quality design-led creative work.

A visit to the Pier Arts Centre was enlightening and restorative. SCAN member Louise Barrington was showing sculptural works at the Centre, and it was brilliant to spend more time with her hearing about her work and her recent Culture Collective project.

Speaking of Culture Collective, we were delighted that Alchemy Film and Arts were in Orkney at the same time and were able to attend our Better World member meet up too, which took place in new SCAN member venue Soulisquoy Printmakers in Stromness. Soulisquoy Printmakers is an artist-led workshop and studio that welcomes printmakers of all abilities and ages: the perfect place to meet with members and screenprint more campaign messages for offices, homes and studios. Liam McArthur MSP (above) joined us and learned more about all of the advocacy activities that SCAN have been carrying out in Parliament and in across Scotland.

A trip to Edinburgh during festival time is always good but we were especially pleased to be asked by SCAN member Sierra Metro to partner with them on an early morning festival meet up as part of Soapbox, an early morning meet up for those practising, working or freelancing in visual arts, creative industries, digital and /or tech. This welcoming and friendly event kickstarted the day with inspiration, networking and more printmaking – and we were in good company, with the exhibition PAIN 2 POWER by Australian artist Haein Kim.

Finally, member organisation Generator Projects incorporated a meet-up into Art Thing, an event by their creative community network (top image). Fellow member organisation Dundee Contemporary Arts leant a hand with printmaking, resulting in a lot of prints and totes, alongside freshly made campaign badges.