Summerhall Arts is a new charitable arts organisation in Scotland that will deliver vital support and opportunities to local and national creative arts practitioners and inspire, challenge and engage artists, audiences, and the community, whilst making a lasting contribution to the cultural fabric of Edinburgh and beyond.
The experienced team behind the charity believe this action, whilst it has been planned for a long time, is now urgent and necessary at a time of drastic cuts in the arts and culture sector. They aim to provide a platform for companies and individuals to come together to make work and consolidate a splintering sector in the current economic climate.
The new arts organisation has independent governance from a diverse team and board of trustees but activity will be based within the popular Summerhall arts venue.
Summerhall Arts will champion the voices of emerging and early career artists and creatives and provide a nurturing safe space for artistic experimentation and new writing. It will empower and cultivate a vibrant and inclusive arts community through offering resources, mentorship, and platforms for showcasing work and foster collaborations across artistic disciplines and practitioners, engage with the local community and contribute to the growth of the arts sector in Edinburgh.
Sam Gough, CEO of Summerhall Arts said: “There is a moment just before its too late, that if nothing is done at that point, all you can then do is stand by and watch what is treasured become lost. I think that pivotal moment is now.
I am so excited to be working with this talented group of people, we have ambitious plans to unveil a programme of support and development opportunities across the performance and visual arts sector, along with year round new writing commissions and performances. To be there at the start of a new arts organisation that will put creating work and supporting the artists first is inspiring and we can’t wait to get going. We are lucky to be able to house this charity and the work we will be doing in this fantastic Arts Village – the work Summerhall has done over the years is phenomenal, but as invariably everyone is cutting back and being more cautious about how many and whom they support Summerhall Arts is looking to enable so much more, bring it all under one roof and give the incredibly talented artists in Scotland more opportunities to be able to compete on the world stage.”
Trustee Harry Mould said: “It’s vital, now more than ever, that we provide meaningful and affordable opportunities for those who want to make and participate in art, and that those opportunities actively dismantle barriers to access and authentic, long-term inclusion. I’m really delighted to be one of the team of trustees for Summerhall Arts, and to have the chance to play a part in building an arts organisation from its inception with the mission of providing a properly community-engaged platform that nurtures and celebrates a real variety of exciting voices. I hope to contribute to establishing best practice, so that underrepresented artists and underserved communities in particular can be a part of all that we do whilst feeling safe, centred, seen and supported. “
Chair of the Summerhall Arts board Marcus Pickering said: “I am so thrilled that we are launching Summerhall Arts as we recognise the importance of sustaining and supporting the arts here in Scotland. It has been a delight watching the arts develop over twelve years at Summerhall and it would be a shame if it is lost. We are here to ensure the survival of it and galvanise the arts community by bringing it together in one place and to witness the wonderful output of so much creativity is magnificent. It is a joy to work with such an amazingly talented mix of arts professionals in the core team and a wealth of industry experience across our board. We hope that the arts community and arts fans engage with and support this essential new organisation.”
The vision of Summerhall Arts is to be Edinburgh’s leading arts organisation. One that cultivates creativity, fosters cultural exchange, and enriches lives through a vibrant and inclusive programme of multi-disciplinary arts adding to the cultural fabric of the country.
Their mission is to provide a dynamic and community-focused platform for emerging artists, nurturing expression and engaging audiences through a diverse programme of new writing and enabling opportunities through the visual and performative arts as well as live music and theatre. The goal is to promote cultural understanding, spark dialogue, and contribute to the thriving arts scene in Edinburgh and Scotland.
Summerhall Arts will work to its core values of Creativity and Innovation; Community Engagement;
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion; Accessibility; Collaboration and Partnerships; Excellence and Professionalism and Sustainability and Environmental Responsibility.
The Artistic Strategy of Summerhall Arts comprises of a Performance, Scottish Touring Circuit & Receiving House for New Writing; Professional Artist Development including Artist Residencies and Artist Showcases; Mentoring and Professional Development; Visual Arts Exhibitions, Installations and a Cinema programme; Local Live Music Programming and Inter-disciplinary Arts & Community Engagement.
Professional Development will include development spaces, Lab weeks, artist residencies and surgeries, industry networking sessions, talks, workshops and writing spaces.
Initially, the Performance programme will host visiting companies throughout the year, outwith Fringe time, New writing commissions, Progression to stage 2 for a project and offer up to 40 weeks of paid and free development space available for individuals and companies across the year.
The Visual Arts programme will see Summerhall Arts curated as well as associate exhibition seasons, artists residencies and commission opportunities, animated through workshops, talks and community events. The in-house curated Cinema programme will offer regular screenings of independent and art house cinema from around the globe, a home for film festivals and screening opportunities for independent filmmakers.
Summerhall Arts plans to work with other complementary organisations and individuals to provide the much-needed opportunities and facilities to make the culture sector thrive.
The key team that will deliver the Summerhall Arts programme are Sam Gough, CEO; Samantha Chapman, Visual Arts and Cinema Curator; Arusa Qureshi, Music Programmer; Tom Forster, Performance Programmer and Imogen Stirling, Development and Producing Lead.
The independent board of trustees responsible for the governance of the organisation are Harry Mould– Policy and Public Affairs Lead, Federation of Scottish Theatre; Debbie Christie– TV Executive, documentary maker and Chair of SDI; Nancy Riach– Development, Arts Culture Health & Wellbeing Scotland; Jonathan Seddon – Partner, Morton Fraser MacRoberts Lawyers; Colin Ferrier – Bass Rock Financial Management Ltd and Marcus Pickering (Chair) Founder and Managing Director of Pickerings Gin.