The Rural Arts Network Scotland began as a pilot study with Queen Margaret University and was designed to be an emerging network that aims to support rural cultural organisations (of any size and shape) aiming to provide a space to share learning, aid in development, as well as advocating for those operating in those ‘rural’ and ‘remote’ areas of Scotland.
We recognise that the terms ‘rural’ and ‘remote’ are contested, but also recognise that those operating in such settings have similar experiences which are difficult to share due to geographical, cultural, and economic distances between each other. As such, the network provides space to come together to support each other.
Do you represent a rural arts organisation?
We want to support rural cultural organisations (of any size and shape), aiming to provide a space to share learning, aid in development, as well as advocating for those operating in those ‘rural’ and ‘remote’ areas of Scotland.
Are you an artist who works in rural settings?
Rural Arts Network Scotland values the voices and experiences of individuals and artists living or working in rural settings, and welcomes them to join our events and discussions.
In March 2020, a feasibility study for a Rural Art Network in Scotland brought together QMU and UHI researchers and 10 Rural Arts Organisations for an initial 1-day scoping event to explore the following three questions:
1) What learnings can rural arts organisations offer each other about how they engage with communities and other participants?
2) How can this learning about public engagement with the arts be continually shared in an accessible manner to other rural arts organisations?
3) How can this research nurture an on-going Rural Arts Network (Scotland) that can continue productive exchanges about public engagement in the arts while also advocating for the needs of Rural Arts Organisations engaging with their communities?
The pilot group explored a number of shared challenges they faced when working in the rural. In dealing with these issues, the group identified a need for Partnership and Support (both professional and social), but that this Partnership and Support was difficult to consistently maintain because of the very conditions of living rurally. It was felt that in order to be able to work more effectively with/ alongside their (SIMD) communities, those working in rural contexts needed to develop a deeper understanding about the practice of others working in similar contexts.
Another need identified was “Advocacy” – in that there are no central bodies of Rural Arts Organisations that can advocate to policy makers or funders. Instead, policy and funding is largely developed centrally within urban contexts without insight into the specificities of working rurally. It was felt a Network could therefore advocate to these policy makers/funders.
Rural Arts Network Scotland would like to support and foster a Community of Practice in order to address rural engagement challenges and encourage collaboration and advocacy for the sector. We want to test how this ‘coming together’ can reflect on and enhance what their audiences want in terms of cultural participation and engagement.