Wasps Studios was formed in late 1977 and is known as one of the UK’s largest social enterprise studio providers. The organisation holds residency spaces for around 900 visual artists, craft makers, creative industries and cultural organisations in affordable work spaces all over and around Scotland. The company creates studios by taking old buildings and renovating them into a safe studio space for the artists and by keeping costs low to charge affordable rents. The company has invested around 10 million pounds around Glasgow in the last 6 years and this has helped regenerate creative businesses around the city. The company aims to support their tenants by offering exposure to exhibitions, providing support on how to sell their work as well as educating the tenants on more efficient ways to market themselves. Overall, Wasps Studios provides a safe, affordable working space for the artists and seeks to create as many opportunities as possible for them through workshops and exhibitions.
Wasps studios is Scotland's only national studio provider that provides affordable studios to support artists and arts organisations.
Glasgow Caledonian University
In 2014 , Wasps became self-sufficient by providing larger studios developments including creative industries projects to Glasgow and now to Scotland’s smaller cities. The innovation is to charge a slightly higher rent to creative industries in order to subsidise artists and make studio space thereby making Wasps financially sustainable as an organisation. The work of Wasps Studios has opened more doors for the wider community and opened up to more than just artists, it has opened up to other creative artists who were involved in music, dance, or stage performance through tailoring the service of Wasps to the wider community and provide a more focused service in the new locations in order to work with what people need within that specific area. Project partners include companies such as Surge, Dance House Glasgow, Aerial Edge and Independent Dance.
Transformation of The Briggait complex in Glasgow is planned with the delivery of a creation centre for many different people with the help of organisations such as Creative Scotland and Heritage Lottery Fund. Once the project is complete, this will completely change the scale of performance art in Scotland and provide access for those in the performance industry to improve skills and further their careers. Future renovations include projects in other areas in Scotland such as, Inverness, Perth and Skye where Wasps Studios have identified the potential for old buildings to be transformed into not only studios but accommodation such as bedrooms and communal space that can appeal to the creative individuals such as writers, artists, makers and designers for residencies.
Wasps began when a group of artists purchased an inhabited building in Dundee, Scotland, which was going to be demolished, for a very low price. These artists believed that by purchasing this building at a low price, they could then rent out the space in this building to other artists who were waiting for their chance to make a breakthrough with regards to their artwork. Therefore, the inspired idea behind Wasps was that artists who are trying to balance their art work along with a part-time job, could benefit from the opportunity of paying low rent fees in order to work within an environment which is affordable and helps them to try and improve and complete their artwork.
Wasps has now been supporting the creative community for 40 years through offering affordable studio space and support to artists and arts organisations. This has now found them considered to be the UKs largest studio provider changing the life of a variety of artists around the UK by allowing them to experiment with artistic ideas, create artwork and engage with the wider public throughout Scotland. Wasps now have 19 buildings around Scotland that open the doors to the artistic community around these areas in places where perhaps aspiring artists may not have otherwise have been able to gain access and help. Examples of this include the Shetland islands, Orkney and Skye where populations are low and this then opens the door for artists in these areas and allows them a chance to use their creative skills which has a great impact on the lives of these individuals.
Wasps has also introduced and regenerated many buildings throughout many deprived areas across Glasgow and Aberdeen which not only has held positive effect on the artists themselves but also the surrounding community through provided the chance for the younger community to become involved in activities such as parkour and circus arts, drama and creative arts whilst The Briggait offers physical performance studio space purpose built for disabled dancers. Another area in which Wasps have impacted societies is that in the north of Scotland, in places like Nairn and Orkney, the organisation has helped renovate older properties and again, improved the standards of the buildings in order to rent out the space to artists. This has a huge impact on these smaller communities as it can help to provide jobs as well as a unique opportunity for creative artists and makers in these communities.
Furthermore, Wasps have also carried out research for proposed work within the smaller cities of Scotland as they believe that there is plenty of talent in these areas which go to waste after the students leave with their creative/art degrees but pursue jobs in different sectors. As a result of this, Wasps are starting to purchase and renovate more buildings in these areas in order to provide opportunities and jobs to those who have the artistic talent. In addition, Wasps have also now began working with local schools in order to promote the project ‘creative careers’ within Scotland, in order to help school children to understand the large variety of different career sectors there are within the creative industry. Wasps have also begun to provide projects for university graduates in order to further increase the impact in which they have on their local communities , such as the Fashion Foundry.
WASPS aspiration is to play a part in facilitating dynamic and sustainable creative communities in Scotland’s cities. The business is achieving this vision through creating partnerships with many supporters such as Creative Scotland, Social Investment Scotland, the Scottish Government and many councils across the country.
Wasps hold many events including exhibitions for artists, events such as exhibitions, arts festivals and vintage fares which not only allow for artists to showcase their work at an affordable price and gain some publicity but also brings attention and funds into the surrounding areas and other local business. In 2015, thousands more people have attended events and exhibitions that Wasps have provided and has increased from the previous year’s figures of 22,000. This offers a great stage for artists to gain publicity through networking and again potential custom to surrounding business within these areas. An example of this is that £10.3 million has been put into the Merchant city area of Glasgow regeneration which has in turn created 400+ jobs around this area. Furthermore, 152 artists have been supported through the Wasps arts programme and a further 788 artists and makers have been supported through the space provided by Wasps in the years 2015-2016 alone. By not only providing a platform for creative industries, Wasps also impacts the local communities by bringing old buildings back to life that could have perhaps been left not occupied or demolished, which encourages regeneration of local areas.
A survey taken through artists that have been involved with Wasps within Inverness suggested that the creative hubs proposed will encourages 76% of respondents to collaborate with other creative professionals which in turn has raised awareness for a further 65% within their field and therefore 47% agreed that it has provided an opportunity to grow their business. 58% had said that through using studio space provided by wasps it has in-turn inspired them and helps to improve the outcome for their work, whilst 44% said that it in fact allowed for them to gain a space to work which they would otherwise not been able to access if it was not for Wasps.
Wasps have many programmes in place to try and boost the creative community in terms of sustainability. The business works closely with the local council to get younger people in the surrounding deprived communities to get engaged in physical activity. Getting the kids involved in dynamic types of physical activity such as parkour and circus performing brings something exciting and different to the community. Wasps has also partnered up with the
City of Glasgow College to create apprenticeships in construction for young people with a focus on females in particular. The programme is there to support woman with issues such as child care and any other barriers obstructing their entry into this field of work. The social benefits of WASPS work can be seen in the smaller projects they invest in. Renovation of the buildings in Kirkcudbright and Orkney have seen improvements in these small communities through attracting artists to the location and the buildings not being left empty. Projects like these are for social yield to create a collaborative creative community and bring revenue to the location, not the business.
WASPS have sustainability policies in place to make improvements to lessen the impact the business is having on the environment. The artists/tenants are encouraged to be more environmentally conscious through recycling and turning off lights and managing their heating to reduce energy usage. Wasps recognise that there are still improvements to be made in becoming the environmentally sustainable business they want to be and are working on policies and programmes to achieve this.
Audrey Carlin, Miss
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Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Business Website: http://www.waspsstudios.org.uk
Year Founded: 1977
Number of Employees: 51 to 200