ON THE BLOG: Across Borders - When the Croatia Desk Visited Scotland
Find out what happened when Anera Stopfer from Creative Europe Desk Croatia visited the UK Desk's Kate Deans in Scotland for a week, and what she learnt from this cross-border cultural exchange.
Kate Deans, CED UK - Scotland:
The UK is one of 41 countries participating in the Creative Europe Culture sub-programme, ranging from Iceland to Ukraine, and Tunisia to Georgia. In each of the participating countries, there is a Desk which serves as the contact point for the cultural and creative professionals to find out more information about Creative Europe and get advice on how to develop projects, partnerships and apply.
In this job, we talk a lot about the value of connecting on a European level and working together. This network of Desks is our own source of European collaboration and inspiration, where we at Creative Europe Desk UK often share learnings, insights and information from each other’s countries so that we can better advise our applicants and stakeholders. We meet twice a year officially, with the European Commission and the EACEA (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency), but we also often work together on events, projects and initiatives outwith these large meetings. We’re all based in different ‘host organisations’. I’m based in Creative Scotland, Scotland’s arts, screen and creative industries funding and development body, but other Desks are based in Ministries for Culture, cultural agencies, and other models in between.
In December, Anera Stopfer from Creative Europe Desk Croatia came over to Scotland to job shadow me, although of course there was plenty to learn from both sides! For 3 full days, Anera took part in some of Creative Scotland’s training on service design for delivery; was introduced to some Scottish organisations in Glasgow and Edinburgh; and attended some shows and exhibitions too. Anera and I also had an unusual luxury of time to discuss how we both operate, what works well and challenges we face. We also took a look at how to get a better insight of each other’s countries, as while there are a few UK (and Scottish)–Croatian collaborations there is definitely plenty of room for forging more!
It was a jam-packed few days together, and I learnt a lot about the Croatian landscape and Anera’s events and ideas. We also discussed the automatic match-funding that is available to Croatian cultural and creative organisations for participating in Creative Europe projects and networks, which is an excellent incentive. I also hope to share these insights with Scottish and other UK organisations who chat to me in the future!
Anera Stopfer, CED Croatia:
For Creative Europe Desk Croatia, the year 2019 has been very intense and rich in the number of events held. Could anyone imagine a better way to close it than with a study visit to Scotland? It was a great closure of the year, but also a very turbulent time, since parliamentary elections were taking place in the UK just at that particular moment and Brexit was screaming in any case of selection results!
My experience of Scotland is reflected in a Scott monument photo [above] that I took while exploring the streets of Edinburgh. It is a photo that brings together rich heritage and playful present, exactly how I would describe my impression of Scotland after visiting its cultural institutions and events. During three days, I visited quite a lot of institutions and had a pretty tight schedule thanks to my dear colleague Kate Deans to whom I want to thank for incredible organisation of this study visit. Creative Europe Desk UK-Scotland is based in Creative Scotland - the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits Scotland. Creative Scotland distributes funding from the Scottish Government and The National Lottery encouraging people and organizations in creative industries to work and develop and bring their ideas to life. I was introduced to several members of Creative Scotland services and have visited their premises in Edinburgh as well as in Glasgow. I was pretty impressed by the level of openness and the well-structured system that Creative Scotland as an institution offers.
Speaking about openness, I had that impression not only because of open spaces they are working in, but also after a two-days Service Design for Delivery Training organized for employees of Creative Scotland, that I had a chance to assist. The idea of the training was to tackle different issues, such as: How might the creative sector create a stronger sense of community and belonging? How might leadership be more open, transparent and collective at all levels? How might the creative sector transform its systems and processes to serve its users better, improve internal efficiency and become more data driven? It was a very interactive and dynamic process, with a lot of colours, post-its, stickers and engagements. All participants were actively engaged in developing a culture of change and innovation within Creative Scotland. It was a genuine proof of openness for new approaches and ways of work. Coming from a public body myself, for me it was a real surprise and a rather enthusiastic moment seeing my Scottish colleagues applying design methods and mindsets such as Sprint or Visualizations to explore problems and challenges that we are both facing in our daily work.
Kate also organized meetings with several cultural operators in order to give me as broad as possible overview of Scottish cultural context in a short space of time and we visited some very respective cultural venues. I can’t tell which impressed me more: Many Studios in Glasgow as a unique creative hub in Europe that facilitates more than 60 artists to express their art in the ultimate freedom, or Creative Edinburgh as an organization that offers professional growth to the creative community through events, career support and advocacy, or Creative Europe beneficiary Imaginate, an organization with incredible energy tuned passionately in promoting and celebrating theatre and dance for young audiences, or the biggest print studio that I have ever visited, as part of the coworking space Edinburgh Printmakers.
Besides day visits and intense schedule, we invested what remained of our energy into the most inspiring events: concert Diversions in the Queen’s Hall played by Drake Music Scotland and Hebrides Ensemble introduced us with the world of inclusive art and power of music that brings us all closer and more vulnerable. The concert by Candlelight performed by Creative Europe beneficiary Scottish Ensemble reminded us that we are in the Advent period and turned as from the election tension, at least for the moment, into the magic of Christmas.
As stated before, the overall impression on how the creative sector in Scotland works can be described as having rich heritage and a playful present. Heritage and history are woven deeply in Scottish culture, openness is stated in each encounter with the present Scottish cultural field, while unavoidably the very immediate future seems to be coloured with a Brexit flavour.
Images: Anera Stopfer
25 Feb 2020