Studio Open Days: Coburg House Art Studios

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Art, Networking, Promotion

Artists need space.

 

Whether we find ourselves requiring more so set up a studio, the need for a professional business address, a little extra storage to free up some space in the house or just the need for a bit of company, we often seek out studio, office or rehearsal space to work in.

 

And I don’t know about you but despite the fact I ‘work from home’ most of the time I actually find it immensely difficult to work at home. Whether I move to a coffee shop, a coworking space, a mate’s house or even a train (which I am currently on) I tend to get a lot more done! I think this is down to the naturally collaborative nature of creative work.

 

There are loads of these spaces all over the country for every different field of work and every price bracket. Usually located alongside the artistic suburbs of towns and cities not only do they make excellent workspaces but they can also make for great communities!

 

One of my favourites of these is Coburg House Art Studio situated in Leith, Edinburgh and home to over 80 designers, artists and makers.

 

It has been running for over 20 years and across that time has built up quite the reputation as an exciting, unique creative hub.  To get a studio space at this former granary there is a wait list and (I’m told) it costs a pretty penny, but for good reasons! Very good reasons indeed.

 

First and foremost, much of the ground floor of the Coburg House Art Studio forms a shop and gallery where studio users can display and sell their work. It is open every Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm.  A really nice touch with this shop is the counter which consists mainly of a display of artistic business cards, presumably from every designer, so that if you should find something you like you can find that artists card and contact them directly or take them as a keepsake from your visit.

 

Another great idea is that twice a year they run weekend open days. One during the spring/summer and one just in time for Christmas. Not only can you learn more about how their artists work, you can talk to them about, well, anything you have ever wanted to know! It’s like a living museum where you can learn about any craft you could imagine.

 

Coburg offer their artists in residence the opportunity to display their work in exhibitions both independently and collaboratively.  They have quite a unique range of arts and crafts including: painting, print work, ceramics, glass, jewellery and illustration so I can only imagine the diverse and imaginative installs hosted.

 

A few of the artists in residence offer courses which you can take in the studios to and in case that wasn’t enough they also have a combined social media following of around 6500.  It is a hugely positive and inspiring environment which is clearly adored by its artists in residence!

 

So how can your Arts Business take inspiration from the Coburg House Art Studios? How can you get the public involved and improve awareness and income for the artists and you company?

  • Think about having open days for the public where they have the opportunity to get a special behind the scenes look at how you run your arts business.  Do you run a theatre company? Think about running an open rehearsal or script read throughs.  Do you have a dance school? Try having an open workshop.  What about a museum? Have an access the curators or scientists day or run specialist educational tours.  Think outside the box to develop unique community events.
  • Run specialist workshops encourage the local community to learn new skills or try something new.  You could offer these for free to raise awareness or charge a ticket fee as a way of bringing in additional income
  • Think about introducing a shop or gallery.  This works great in galleries and studios as it gives artists an immediate connection to sell their work and the commission you earn can be used to put money back into your venue and make it even better for clients.  Think outside the box here, the RSC runs
  • If you have the space available, you may consider launching a coffee shop or bar.  Make your work place a cool place to hang out!

 

Coburg House Art Studios have created a community beyond their community and become creative hub for the people of Edinburgh as well as the artists.

How could you do the same?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Last night Some Am-Dram Saved My Life

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Creative Industries, Mental Health, Theatre

I know that this blog is primarily about how to apply business skills to your Arts Business, but I will from time to time bring mental health to the forefront of discussion because I think it should be openly discussed and it’s an important conversation.

The Arts Industry is rife with people who struggle with their mental health and (although I will admit that I have no scientific research behind this) I would argue that there are more individuals battling with invisible illnesses like anxiety and depression in this industry than in any other.

Sometimes working in the arts feels like a constant uphill climb.  We are encouraged to go out there and live our dreams, but we are never told how hard it is going to be.  The hours are long and the pay is often low.  Environments can be stressful, and experiences can bend you to complete breaking point.

 

Now please don’t get me wrong:

 

I love the arts!

 

And however much there are times I want to pack it all in and runaway forever Lady Theatre keeps dragging me back!  There is nothing like the creative industry.  The rush, the excitement and the passion!

 

A few years ago (without going into too much detail) both my personal and professional life began to crumble and I started to fall apart.  I went on long term sick leave with the diagnosis of depression and anxiety and vowed never to work in the arts industry again.

After a year of struggling I couldn’t even bring myself to open my laptop and the idea of searching for a new career made me feel physically sick but I knew I needed to do something, if only to appease my friends and family to show them that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

A neighbour had told me about a charity panto that would be taking place in February called: ‘Goldilocks and the Three Martians’.  

“They always need volunteers to help with props and set” I was told.  She passed on my details and found out the rehearsal times for me.

So one Friday, when I was having a good day, I decided to push myself to attend a rehearsal.  I was instantly introduced to the Head of Props who immediately gave me a copy of the script, talked me through all the things which needed making and invited me for a meal to meet the rest of the crew.

I went, I chatted. I was instantly enveloped into a family of different personalities who had one key thing in common: they LOVE theatre.

Now, a year later, I am the official stage manager of this year’s panto: ‘Sinbad goes Down Under’ and I have been involved in crewing, building and propping the entire amateur dramatics programme in the Solihull Area. 

More importantly, I have learnt how to manage my depression and I have remembered why I fell in love with the arts industry.

I used to be quite the cynic about amateur dramatics.  Basically, I was a bit of a snob.  I felt like there was a strong divide between “professional theatre” and “amateur theatre”.  To a point it is instilled in you at arts school that you are somehow better than that, above it.

But there is something beautiful about amateur dramatics though.  It is pure and innocent.  There is none of the economic politics.  Everyone is there because they love what there doing, whether that is onstage or off.  They have become an immediate community of likeminded friends. 

 

And they have reignited my desire for this industry and helped me find my way in this beautiful life. 

 

If ever you’re feeling lost in what is often an overwhelming world, I implore you to seek out the hobbyists in your industry!  They may not be the most professional, the most innovative or have the highest production values but none of that matters!  They are the most positive and passionate groups and they just might relight your fire.

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