Alesya, Hub Manager from Izone in Ukraine went to Glasgow, the UK in July 2017, to meet Many Studios and its team, through the European Creative Hubs Network and our Peer-to-Peer Scheme (P2P).
I had a pleasure to participate in Peer-to-Peer Exchange program organised by European Creative Hubs Network. I have visited the Many Studios in Glasgow, Scotland.
There were two reasons for me choosing the Many Studio. From the long list of different host hubs which participated in the P2P exchange program I was trying to find the one which is similar to mine, has similar space and runs similar activities. The other reason was that I’ve been to many hubs and cultural centres all around Europe but not in the UK
and I had no idea how hubs work there, what are their business models, how the program is created and most importantly how they engage local community in their activities.
Besides, recently I started to manage a big team and I wanted to learn about the management techniques and strategies used in creative hubs in the UK from the example of the Many Studios. I was really surprised to find out that the whole hub is being managed by a single person, Natalia Palombo.
There were two more representatives of other hubs from Cardiff, the UK and Split, Croatia coming the same week as me to visit the Many Studios. That made my experience at Many Studios even more enriching.
Three visiting hubs were very different, with different focuses and questions, but Natalia made sure our stay would be interesting and meaningful for everyone, organising meetings with different spaces and institutions.
We had an exceptional tour around the city’s maker spaces, co-workings, galleries etc. and met people from different cultural sectors who shared their knowledge on running their projects with us. We have even attended a circus performance as Antonia, a co-vistor from Croatia, is interested in this topic and herself runs a contemporary circus hub in Split.
I am really interested in financial models of cultural institutions and organisations which iswhy I have bombarded my interlocutors with finance-related questions. Thanks to British manners and calmness people were patient enough to answer all of them.
I’d like to describe the highlights of the visit and the lessons I have drown from it which are applicable for my hub in Ukraine.
We’ve visited Glasgow Collective — a 9000 sq feet co-working space run by two brothers with 24 companies working there. There you can find a common space, several offices and a shared kitchen. The place also hosts a coffee roaster venture which offers barista trainings and attracts Glaswegian coffee enthusiasts. The core team occupies one room. The future plans include opening a pop-up restaurant and a bar, which without a doubt, reinforce the hub’s claim for being a hot spot on the map of Glasgow.
The main idea behind Glasgow Collective is to create a fully collaborative community where no changes are made without its members’ and visitors’ inputs and opinions being taken into consideration. The organisers have managed to built relationships with on trust and synergy which helps ideas and new initiatives thrive and develop.
For me it was an example of how to effectively engage clients and visitors of the hub to participate in decision-making process.
Centre for Contemporary Art Glasgow
The Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow represents a different example of a creative hub model. Being a city-funded public institution it offers its event space for everyone charging only for the engineers services which normally amounts to GBP 12/hr. The space itself is located close to an art school which attracts the artists and students who receive an opportunity to work and get together. The Centre hosts a free thematic library, has an exhibition space, a performance and concert venue, an art merchandise shop and a cafe.
To me particularly interesting was the fact that the Centre runs an artist-in-residency programme. My institutions also has similar programmes and I have not only exchanged the experience but also discussed possible cooperation in the future. I was also very eager to learn about the role that the public institutions play in promoting culture and creativity on a city level.
The main institution of my visit was of course the hosting hub. The Many Studios is located in an old market area The Barras. It is an open studio format co-working space with 30 studios, 6 freelance desks, event spaces, common kitchen and a gallery. The hub is a founding member of the East End Network, which brings together creative enterprises of the Glasgow’s East End.
Every first Saturday of the months the Many Studios organises the Ross Street market and invite young designers, makers and crafters to participate in this event. Thus, the project allows to emphasise the location’s history and rejuvenate the area with the influx of creativity.
The Many Studios works with artists, also has an artist-in-residency program and organises exhibitions. During my stay there was an exhibition opening and an artist talk. These are the activities we have in Kyiv and for me it was interesting to compare it. In Ukraine we are always trying to improve our outreach and put a lot of efforts towards increasing the number of our visitors. On the contrary, at the Many Studios they focus more on the level of engagement of the audience and 20 people is a great result if everyone is involved and truly interested.
The hub I represent was the biggest among participants allowing diverse activities and I was happy to share my knowledge and experience with my peers.
During my trip I have been able to visit very different and diverse institutions. This helped me to understand that though all of them have different approaches and different specific challenges, the main goal is to bring about a meaningful change for the local community through culture and creative entrepreneurship.