P2P Story: HALA 100 meets Many Studios

Antonia, Coordinator from HALA 100 in Croatia went to Glasgow in August 2017, to meet Many Studios and its team, through the European Creative Hubs Network and our Peer-to-Peer Scheme (P2P). This is her article about the experience of exchanging knowledge, creative hub to creative hub.

HALA 100 is creative hub for contemporary arts and culture set up in June 2015 in Split, Croatia. It is not a big space size wise (only 200 square meters) but it serves as a residency place for contemporary circus arts (only space like this in ex-Yugoslavia region) and a workshop for sculptors, musicians and film makers. Residency place has been granted with 3-year funding (until 2019) from Kultura Nova foundation, foundation for contemporary arts and culture set up by Croatian Government. HALA 100 has 1 full time employee who coordinates different activities and projects realized in the space such as residencies of international circus artists, presentations of their work for the public and masterclasses of their significant circus skills; daily classes of contortion and acrobatics; circus movies screenings, making of sculptures for exhibitions, making of short movies for film festivals, music composing…

Through P2P scheme, HALA 100’s coordinator Antonia Kuzmanić visited Many Studios in Glasgow, Scotland, with an aim of learning about different business models, usage of hubs’ spaces, coordination of different tenants etc. that are applicable in Croatian economic situation and in a rather small city as Split with significantly smaller cultural, entrepreneur and business sector then in Glasgow.

My host hub Many Studios and its coordinator Natalia Palombo really made an effort of hosting 3 very different hubs in the same time and making sure we visit and become familiar with places we are going to benefit the most.
So here is a short diary of hubs and people I visit/meet during my P2P scheme in Glasgow.

1st and 2nd day

After meeting Natalia and Ian Cooke-Tapia (originally from Panama but trying to set up a hub in Cardiff), we went to visit Edinburgh and 3 hubs there: Code Base, The Biscuit Factory and Custom Lane.

CodeBase (http://www.thisiscodebase.com/) is the UK’s largest startup incubator, home to more than 90 of the country’s best technology companies. CodeBase consists of hotdesking spaces, co-working spaces, office spaces, conference room etc. all with a great view of Edinburgh castle.

The Biscuit Factory (http://www.biscuitfactory.co.uk/) is an arts & fashion hub housed in the former Crawford’s biscuit factory with more than 7,500 square foot of venue/gallery space. This place is an exciting mixture of different creative businesses sharing a place: Edinburgh Gin, Edinburgh food social, Williams & Johnsons coffee in the same building as designer Araminta Campbell, Meraki concept studio, WEB 3D…
The same running The Biscuit Factory is running two additional spaces in the same area: a former church that is being used as a performance venue (for Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for example) and former school baths that are being rebuild into a bath with an exhibition place and restaurant.
The last place we visited was Custom Lane (http://customlane.co/) – ”Centre for design, making connect, collaborate and create” – where we met team behind Edinburgh Tool Library (http://edinburghtoollibrary.org.uk/). Edinburgh Tool Library is the UK’s first tool library, promoting sharing as a way of reducing our environmental impact, an a great social and environmental project. They lend their members tools for DIY, gardening, decorating and machine repair, so that they don’t need to own them. Not only does this collaborative approach make sense environmentally, it also helps their members financially. During our visit we met a group of elderly spending their time being creative and productive. Beside Edinburgh Tool Library, in Custom Lane there is an exhibition space and offices, design as open spaces but still with the sense of cubicles!

3rd day

On our third day, we were back in Glasgow to visit MAKLab and we visit our host hub Many Studios.
MAKLab (http://maklab.co.uk/) was founded in 2012 to allow people to access the latest disruptive technologies but since then they have grown and now deliver teaching workshops, community outreach programs, professional development and accredited learning for a wide demographic across Scotland. Whether you need access to specialized equipment, or need to experiment with new materials, there aren’t many processes that MAKLab can’t help you with.
My host during visiting Glasgow through P2P scheme is Many Studios (https://www.manystudios.co.uk/). Many Studios was established in 2014 to provide a wide range of flexible and bright spaces that meets the varied needs of the creative industries in Glasgow and is now playing a major part in the regeneration of The Barras in the immediate East End of Glasgow. Many Studios hosts 32 unique studio spaces, 6 freelance desks, 2 creative shop units, event and meeting space, and over 60 members. They also host and support The Telfer Gallery and the Many Graduate Residency Program. Design wise, some of the Many Studios spaces have closed door and opened ceiling policy so you can hear them working and spy on them from mezzanine floor. 🙂
After browsing through Many Studios spaces, we had a really interesting and conductive meeting, a get to know each other’s hub, with Many Studios team members. They have their own practices like http://pidginperfect.com/ and http://www.nataliapalombo.co.uk/.

4th day

On our 4th day Alesya Bolot from Kiev join our P2P scheme. She is working at privately funded hub IZONE that was set up in Donetsk but due to Russian invasion of Crimea they had to move to Kiev.

4th day in Glasgow started with visit to Centre for Contemporary Arts (http://www.cca-glasgow.com/.) Centre for Contemporary Arts or CCA is Glasgow’s hub for the arts. Their year-round program includes cutting-edge exhibitions, film, music, literature, spoken word, festivals, Gaelic and performance. At the heart of all activities is the desire to work with artists, commission new projects and present them to the widest possible audience. What I love the most about CCA is their Publication Studio Glasgow. It is a publishing suite where members of the public can make their own books! While at CCA we visit running exhibition “The House that Heals the Soul” that focuses on the political and social status of libraries. Programmed in collaboration with artist Nick Thurston, CCA’s exhibition spaces is opened up to house a selection of library and self-publishing resources alongside artworks that look at various histories of, and approaches towards, the protection and presentation of libraries’ collections, infrastructures and their users.

Afterwards, we went to see Many Studios’ neighbor Glasgow Collective (http://www.coworkglasgow.co.uk/). Glasgow Collective is Glasgow’s newest co-working destination. It is 8000 sqft consisting of 3 dedicated studios (750 – 1000 sqft), a print studio, 2500 sqft workshop, ideation/ media room, large event and co-working space with access to an enormous communal area consisting of storage facilities, a very large open plan kitchen and breakout space. There are 24 different companies at Glasgow collective. Glasgow Collective is run by two brothers who are buying the properties next to the hub to “control the environment” :).

5th day

We started the day with meeting Christopher Glasgow (nice surname :)), marketing manager of Sonica biennial festival (sonic-a.co.uk), Cryptic Nights (cryptic.org.uk.) and several other performing arts projects run in Glasgow. For them, they have more than 40 different fundings partners so they are able to bring, for example, AquaSonic performance by Denmark’s Between Music to Glasgow in October 2017. Working in the same field of performing arts, it was really a pleasure and inspiration to meet Christopher!

Afterwards we headed to Many Studios for opening night of Reading Between Lines by Palestinian Unum Babar and American Matt Kushan. Many Studios invited Unum Babar and Matt Kushan to take part in a 4-week residency at The Gallow Gate. The artists have spent their time in residence exploring Glasgow as a twin city to Lahore, the city in which they currently reside, to create an exhibition of new, collaborative work. The works shown within the gallery reflect upon Babar and Kushan’s reading of the city as outsiders and tells a particular story of nostalgia, consumerism and perceptions of social and physical order through architecture, color, material and photography. The artists formed their primary responses through a repetitive, daily commute from their accommodation in Maryhill to their studio in the Barras Market. By abstracting repeating colors and recreating existing surfaces, the artists have portrayed the uniformity and noiselessness of our city in direct contrast to the chaotic of Lahore, both the aesthetics of architecture and the frequency of daily life.

6th & 7th day

Two last days were spend on discovering city. I visited The Lighthouse – Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture. The Lighthouse is a visitor center, exhibition space and events venue situated in the heart of Glasgow, it acts as a beacon for the creative industries in Scotland and promotes design and architecture through a vibrant program of exhibitions and events. During my visit, there was a great exhibition “This Will Ruin Everything”. The exhibition features forty Scottish and international artists and designers exhibiting a broad range of creative practices, from architecture to digital art to painting. The show also features the Lighthouse’s first ever mural, a small Recoat Gallery retrospective installation and screenings of films about Recoat’s projects. Recoat is a Scottish, grass-roots arts organization that specializes in contemporary urban art. This year marks its 10th anniversary, celebrating a decade of exhibitions, mural projects, and education programs. As part of the anniversary celebrations Recoat has curated this exhibition.

And last thing I did during my P2P visit to Glasgow was circus performance at BAaD, which was pretty cool as contemporary circus is my basic occupation. We watched several short aerial numbers from Mezcla – Debonair, The Aerial Acrobatic Circus.

After coming back to HALA 100 and my hometown of Split, and after spending some time in Glasgow, I can surely say that my P2P visit was a great experience and an opportunity to learn many things that you cannot figure out by yourself by just browsing through webpages of hubs that interested me. I was truly surprised that all of this hubs’ leaders/coordinators openly talk with me about opportunities, challenges and threats they have while running a hub and talk about their business models and funding situations. Talking with all this different people and my colleagues from P2P scheme as well with Many Studios team taught me a lot and seeing all this different places gave me lots of ideas of what HALA 100 could become with proper program and funding. And last but not anyhow less important, P2P scheme re-charge my batteries so I came back to Croatia ready to fight with the economic, political and social situation in my city.

At the moment, we are re-searching grants to stay in touch with Many Studios –we would try to bring Scottish circus artists for residency in HALA 100. Those artists that are combining circus arts with visual arts as those are artistic fields Many Studios galleries and HALA 100 are working in.