Image: co-designed posters of creative enterprises in South West England from Value of Creative Growth project

Creative workers, enterprises, venues and organisations across Argyll and Bute are to receive bespoke business development support through a new initiative from Culture, Heritage & Arts Assembly Argyll & Isles (CHARTS), in partnership with the Innovation School at The Glasgow School of Art.

Backed by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Create:Networks fund, six interconnected creative business communities will be developed throughout the region to encourage knowledge sharing, facilitate peer-to-peer networking, and provide business and market development support.

These local creative communities are being identified and supported in their development as part of Dr Michael Pierre Johnson’s AHRC-funded Innovation Leadership Fellowship, The Value of Creative Growth. This research project focuses on developing design approaches to better understand, support and evaluate creative enterprises at the sole trader and microenterprise (1-5 people) level, based on the geographic networks of people, organisations, resources and assets they work with.

Dr Johnson has partnered with network-based organisations, such as CHARTS, to explore how visual mapping and creative engagement can build an understanding of the communities and networks it aims to support and engage with those communities to identify key challenges and opportunities. Such a process is supporting CHARTS to then develop ways to respond to those challenges and opportunities, which has included being awarded the Create:Networks fund from Creative Scotland.

Kathleen O’Neill, Development Manager at CHARTS, said: “Our ambition is to build relationships, encourage more joined-up working across Argyll and Bute and support the CHARTS membership over the coming months. We’re especially pleased to be receiving support at this time, which will help us introduce new partnership resources to creative businesses and individuals during lockdown.”

The Value of Creative Growth has also partnered with the Network for Creative Enterprise, a collaboration of cultural hubs and UWE Bristol in South West England, in 2019 to help evaluate their creative enterprise support programme and deliver one-to-one support to ten creative enterprises. While this year the Fellowship has also partnered with North East of North (NEoN) digital arts festival to support their outreach programme in making digital skills, arts and creative careers accessible to everyone.

More information from Creative Scotland

This initiative is one of several creative business support networks being developed across the country as a result of the Create:Networks initiative.

Jessica Bonehill, Creative Industries Officer at Creative Scotland, said: “In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever that support for creative businesses is tailored according to the needs of local sectors. These newly strengthened local networks will allow creative enterprises and practitioners to access specialist advice and support, and we hope this will prove valuable for creative businesses through the difficult months to come.”  

This announcement follows the launch of three new funding programmes designed to provide dedicated support to help sustain Scotland’s creative community during the COVID-19 outbreak.

One-off bursaries are being made available to freelance creative professionals and film and tv sector workers who have lost earnings due to the cancellation of work as a result of Covid-19; and Open Funding: Sustaining Creative Development  is providing support for individuals and organisations to develop and create work in the coming months.

A list of other helpful resources and sector specific support groups and organisations is also available on the Creative Scotland website.

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