The South of Scotland Creative Enterprise Initiative Partnership has been awarded £100,000 from Creative Scotland's Rural Innovation Fund. The project will support creative individuals and micro enterprises in rural areas to develop their business skills and networks and test new ways of reaching new markets.
The award has helped the partnership to secure additional funding of £51,375 from Dumfries and Galloway LEADER fund and £49,999 from the Scottish Borders LEADER fund.
The partnership includes representatives from Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council, Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association, Creative Scotland and the South of Scotland Alliance (the Alliance is a partnership between the Councils together with Scottish Enterprise).
The 18 month project supported by the Rural Innovation Fund will implement the first stages of a longer term plan which will provide an integrated framework of support for creative enterprises across the region. It has been aligned with other business support initiatives in the area, such as the Creative Clusters project.
It will focus on practitioners (makers and producers) involved in the visual arts, crafts, film, performing arts and publishing. It will provide over 400 instances of customised business and marketing skills training to creative individuals, through one to one sessions and training courses. It will recruit a network of established practitioners to lead creative peer mentoring initiatives which will assist around 120 businesses.
Collaborations between creative and commercial businesses will be encouraged and supported through networking, shared learning opportunities, action research residencies and special commissions, which will lead to new products being developed and new markets accessed. It will support initiatives to develop new creative spaces and will also develop web based knowledge exchanges.
In Dumfries and Galloway the project will be led by a Creative Arts Business Development Officer, a post which replaces the currently vacant post of Craft Development Officer within the Council's Arts and Museums Service. This post will work with a team of art form development officers from within the Council and DGAA including the Visual Arts Development Officer (who will now support both visual art and craft businesses); Screen Commissioner and DGAA's Literature Development Officer. We hope that other partners will include schools and further/higher education providers.
A team of Creative Business Advocates will also be recruited from among local creative businesses to assist the team in reaching businesses within sectors of the creative industries where there are few communications channels in place. These advocates will also provide mentoring and peer-support to a small number of established and new entrant businesses and will help deliver a number of projects aimed at encouraging creative businesses to work collaboratively together.