Perth Creative Exchange Doors Open

January 20, 2020 by Perthshire Creates

The long awaited Perth Creative Exchange is up and running.  This exciting new £4.5 million creative hub officially launched last week, and is managed by Wasps (Workshop and Artists Studio Provision (Scotland) Limited), their 20th site in Scotland.

The Perth Creative Exchange development has involved the transformation of the 1930s St John’s Primary School building in Stormont Street to provide 26 studio spaces, 13 creative industry spaces plus many other support facilities.

The facility, a partnership with Perth and Kinross Council, will support the area’s economy – enabling artists and makers to build up their businesses in a sector where earning a living can be tough.

Jon Hoad, whose illustrations are used the world over to show the public what fossilised plants and animals were like when alive, is delighted to have a high quality, affordable studio in the Perth facility rather than working from home.

He said: It’s a brilliant opportunity for me. My pictures have been commissioned for use in museums, books, magazines and on TV, but now I want to expand my business to start producing things like T-shirts and posters of my own.

Pictured is international dinosaur illustrator Jon Hoad, whose work has appeared in books, magazines, posters, exhibitions, museum displays and on TV all over the world, thanks to his detailed understanding of ancient plants and animals.

For jewellery-makers Jenna McDonald, from Crieff, and Roberta Pederlozi, from Dunblane, having studios in Perth offers the chance to increase sales, run classes and build their businesses in other ways.

Jenna said: I’d heard about this project about three years ago and thought ‘yes, that’s for me’.

Roberta added: Perth is such a lovely city – not too big and very friendly. I think that this building will really help it to become a creative hub. It is also superbly located, within easy reach of everywhere from Aberdeen and Dundee to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Pictured is fine jewellery maker Jenna McDonald, from Crieff, Perthshire – one of the artists now based at The Creative Exchange.

Another artist who has a studio at The Creative Exhange is Ceri White, a ceramicist from near Dunning specialising in colourful planters, had previously been working in a small wooden shed.

She said: I kitted it out when I moved to the area, but in the winter it’s barely usable it’s so tiny, cold and damp. These days I need to work more efficiently and to have more space, so this studio is perfect for me.

Pictured is ceramicist Ceri White, from Dunning, Perthshire – one of the artists now based at The Creative Exchange – who specialises in brightly coloured planters and other interior ceramics.

In addition to studios, Perth Creative Exchange will provide 13 workspaces for creative businesses, a teaching space, hot-desking area and meeting rooms plus a public café, gallery and project space. It is also home to The Famous Grouse Ideas Centre which is dedicated to incubating creative businesses.

It is hoped Perth Creative Exchange will provide the right infrastructure and support to keep creative people in the area – including University of the Highlands and Islands graduates who often leave the area after completing their course in Perth because of the lack of suitable facilities and employment opportunities.

Perth & Kinross Council, Leader, Councillor Murray Lyle commented: Perth and Kinross has one of Scotland’s strongest creative sectors and feedback from artist and makers across the region, was that a game changer would be the provision of workspace and studios.  The idea of the Creative Exchange is to provide a space where entrepreneurs, students and the community can meet, talk and spark collaboration and we’re delighted to have achieved this.  The Famous Grouse Ideas Centre is at the heart of the building and will also provide a fabulous space for workshops and training as well as exhibitions, and the café will hopefully attract locals and visitors alike.

Wasps, a national charity and social enterprise which expects to be providing high quality affordable studios and workspaces for over 1,000 tenants across Scotland by the end of 2020, specialises in regenerating redundant historic buildings and turning them into centres of creativity. Perth Creative Exchange marks a key moment in the expansion of Wasps, Audrey Carlin, Wasps Chief Executive Officer, said: This really is a landmark moment for us – with the opening of our 20th building in 2020, the Creative Exchange facility could make a real difference to Perth, and the surrounding area, providing a much-needed boost to the artistic community while developing the creative economy.

Audrey Carlin, CEO of Wasps Studios is pictured at the organisation’s Creative Exchange, Perth.

Perth Creative Exchange has been funded by a number of different organisations; Perth and Kinross Council, Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, The Gannochy Trust, The SSE Sustainable Development Fund, The Forteviot Charitable Trust, The Thomson Charitable Trust and The Alexander Moncur Trust.

Photography by Colin Hattersley Photography

Top Image: Kate Bell, who works with film and puppetry to illustrate the challenges of modern society.