We asked & people said …

Results of consultation and survey about Eigg Box…to date

So far, research into the Eigg Box idea has included an online survey and visits to see various folk who already run shared studio or residency facilities. Many individual and group meetings have taken place, with Eigg residents as well as artists and others who have shown an interest in Eigg Box from elsewhere in Scotland, and beyond.

More than 100 people replied to the survey, giving masses of really positive feedback about the idea (thank you) as well as lots of key info on what people want from Eigg Box and how they see it could help develop their business or creative career.

For info, the term ‘artist’ includes visual artist, applied artist, sculptor, craft worker, writer, theatre worker, dancer, musician, film maker, fashion, radio and television, photographer, arts or creative project manager, advertising, marketing & PR, online or digital media, graphic design, architect etc, but Eigg Box use could also be extended to those working in food, heritage and natural history etc.

Here’s a summary of what I’ve established so far! I’ll update with anything new I’ve found out in a blog post.

  • There is support and enthusiasm for the idea both on and off Eigg. Its format is acknowledged as innovative, attractive and different from what is being offered elsewhere.
  • Eigg Box should have between 150 – 200 square metres (or perhaps more) of working space, plus ancillary kitchen, toilet/shower and storage areas. Having somewhere to sit together to share a coffee was also important!
  • The building would be a new build rather than conversion of an existing building.
  • It should be situated on the south east Pier side of the island, but not at the Pier itself, somewhere within a triangle area from Eigg Primary School to the Community Hall to Kildonan.
  • The site should have open views and be able to accommodate a building aligned north/south for solar panels, solar gain and to provide north light, the best light for artists to work with.
  • While visiting artists are likely to make use of existing visitor accommodation, Eigg Box should also consider providing low-cost/simple overnight accommodation close to the main studio facility for visiting artists with limited resources to rent in addition to their studio space.
  • Eigg Box would complement rather than compete with other existing or planned culture related businesses – e.g. Damian Helliwell’s recording studio, Donna MacCulloch’s dance studio, Eigg Craft Shop, A’Nead, and local businesses like Earth Connections Centre who use the creative arts in their sustainability courses. Eigg Box could also contribute to the island’s arts events programme run by the Isle of Eigg Residents Association.
  • Eigg Box would be established on a not-for-profit / social enterprise basis.
  • The target is for the building to be 100% funded in order to keep rents low.
  • It is assumed there will be no grant or public subsidy to run Eigg Box.
  • Eigg Box would derive the bulk of its income from rents paid by both permanent and visiting artists and creative businesses using the space on a full-time, part-time or pay as you go basis. Additional income would come from small events, hire of space by other groups and from offering hot desk/internet access to non-arts visitors to Eigg needing somewhere to work for a few hours while on holiday. A small additional income might also be derived from grant funding for small training or public events, to include a management fee over and above direct costs.
  • Support has also been offered from other residency and arts organisations interested in hiring Eigg Box for their own events or residencies, to run training events and offer joint residencies funded by outside agencies.
  • The cost for artists to use Eigg Box will vary depending on whether the use is permanent or temporary and how much space is needed. I’m looking at a rental structure including permanent space for island residents, temporary studio use by visiting artists and a pay-as-you-go hot desk structure for both. Visiting artists may be able to get funding to come and spend time working on Eigg, and I’m currently looking at how this might work.
  • As well as working space, Eigg Box could offer training and advice sessions. To date the following has been suggested:
    • pricing – both of ‘made’ work like crafts, painting etc, but also creative services such as web and graphic design, copy writing etc
    • use of social media to sell and promote your work / yourself
    • photographing work
    • booking keeping, with the annual tax return as much as responsible money management and cash flow in mind
    • networking!
  • The next stage is to make a presentation to Eigg residents to report back on consultation and survey results, show how other similar projects work and the benefits they offer to creative workers and local communities and outline how Eigg Box might be developed on Eigg and invite feedback and input.

Consultation Survey responses

  • 100% of 91 respondents are interested in a space in Eigg Box, either as a visiting artist or someone already resident, 7 people (8%) of non-resident artists say Eigg Box would be a factor in making a decision to re-locate their business to the island.
  • The largest response to the survey came from visual artists, applied artists/craft workers, photographers and writers, but those working in theatre, music, dance, film, online or digital media, design and project management have also responded.
  • 16% of respondents only need a desk space, 44% need a space of 3x3m, and 40% need a space bigger than 5m x 3m.
  • The top needs in terms of facilities were internet access, natural light, a desk and water supply. Mobile phone signal was needed by more people than access to a landline.
  • While 40% of respondents (majority off-Eigg) said they had no opinion on where Eigg Box should be located, 33% said at the Pier and 27% said away from the Pier. Comments added in response to this question showed preference for being close to, rather than actually in the Pier area.
  • The key benefits people saw in the Eigg Box idea were:
    • Having somewhere to ‘go to work’ would make me more disciplined about work.
    • A dedicated workspace outwith the home, with fewer distractions, would help me be more productive.
    • Sharing a space would mean I felt less isolated
    • Sharing some costs is attractive
    • Visiting artists would provide new inspiration to me
    • Those working in the same space could collaborate and/or pitch for work jointly
    • Working in a island community is something I’d like to explore (visiting artists)
    • Taking time out, as an artist in residence, or working in a new space, is an important part of my CPD (visiting artists)
  • 92% of respondents thought there should be a gallery of some kind. The gallery could also be used as a temporary workspace, a space to have occasional meetings in and as a training or events space. A typical comment was “Think this is very important, creates a focus and stimulates interest. A presentation area for the work that is generated seems very important, even if it is small”
  • What people thought they could pay in rent varied from nothing (as barter for providing volunteer services for the island) to £400 per month. On the whole, most people thought that the rates set by WASPS of £100 – £150 for a 3x6m studio, or £50 for a 3x3m office occupied on a permanent basis, were fair.
  • For visiting artists, the price of living/sleeping accommodation on top of studio hire was a concern.
  • Residency rates for visiting artists in similar facilities elsewhere varied from £0 to £500+ per month) It’s likely that pricing for space will depend on how much time it will be used i.e. the longer an artist is using the space, the cheaper it will be, so permanent tenants would be charged less than temporary users or visiting artists.
  • 54% of people thought they’d use the space all the time, 46% from time to time. Visiting artists would like to come for a period ranging from a couple of weeks to three months.

A (small) selection of other comments include:

I think that this would be an absolutely wonderful opportunity for all of the self-employed or creative arts minded islanders or visiting artists on Eigg. Eigg is so inspirational from an artistic point of view, but it is, at times, difficult to put that inspiration into tangible work when working from home. A shared workspace would give people that boost and “mind switch” to know that they would be going into work and could separate home tasks from creative productivity. (Local response)

Great idea and just what I need! (Local response)

I’m not entirely sure what I’d use the space for as yet – and touring means I’m away from the island a lot. But having the option of using a room / office space from time to time (a week every month or so?) is attractive. (Local response)

Having a focal point for arts is a truly great thing – creating a stronger local scene, and developing a distinguishable identity for the island outwith its geographical one. (Local response)

Having a hub to work from and possibly provide services from is a fab idea. Anywhere that could support collaboration, sharing of services, a cooperative type approach to bundling and selling creative businesses, love it! (off-Eigg response)

A dedicated space always feels more professional and inspiring and people around to share ideas with will help everyone I’m sure. (off-Eigg response)

I would like to spend time in Eigg and after that who knows? If I love it I might move… (off-Eigg response)

It would bring a whole other level of vibrancy to Eigg and provide that missing facility that would attract more people to come and live, and work successfully on the island. (off-Eigg response)

I’m really excited about this idea. My work is really important to me and is the one major factor stopping me from moving up. I can’t see myself working from a house on Eigg as there would be no work/life separation and I feel it would be cramped and a bit stressful. A space where I could go to work everyday, with mobile and landline telephone access, and reliable internet, would suit me really well and allow me to keep in touch as if working from an office in Glasgow. The option for a creative space to create from is also very exciting and I would use this if it were there. (off-Eigg response)

Would very much like to live somewhere like Eigg and having some kind of facility/infrastructure would help. My background is painting (though business now) and my husband is in digital media and photography and having a hub to work from and possibly provide services from is a fab idea. Anywhere that could support collaboration, sharing of services, a cooperative type approach to bundling and selling creative businesses, love it! (off-Eigg response)

I would like to incorporate new places and their plant stories into my work, rather than just from a distance, and part of my project is to share the work I’ve already done, so a residency would give me the chance to add an ‘exchange’ element. I would love to see what life on an island, particularly Eigg was like and would love to have it benefit my work. (off-Eigg response)

Good luck I think it is a great project. Art in whatever form or medium brings people to an island. Some are curious, some want to buy, some are simply open-minded, but it is almost always a positive experience. (off-Eigg response)

It would be great to have a reciprocal group of artists to ‘swap’ a small exhibition (off-Eigg response)

Though I have been a professional writer for many years and have written extensively for theatre and television, my main concentration has been stories and novels. I have recently finished a new novel and have a collection of stories coming out next year, have always been interested in photography and the idea of working on a new book, undisturbed and away from the city is something most writers I know would love. (off-Eigg response)

I visited Eigg last year and thought it was a beautiful, awe inspiring place, and everyone was so welcoming and friendly. It would make an ideal place to house somewhere that could be used as a residency workspace and/or permanent studio space for artists. Good luck with the plans! (off-Eigg response)

Print designer – use silk screen print facilities in London whilst designing on the Island. (off-Eigg response)

I certainly would be interested in spending an extended period of time on Eigg as an artist/producer and I am interested in living in Scotland later in life and possibly on the West Coast of Scotland / the islands. (off-Eigg response)

Good luck with this. If it happens I will seriously think about moving my film production company to Eigg!!! (off-Eigg response)

The notion that a small community will thrive when it engages with its own and others’ creativity is very appealing. (off-Eigg response)

I think it is a great idea especially as it will be a modern sustainable workspace which will probably end up attracting people to come and live there and set up studio/office. (off-Eigg response)

Great idea. It would be great to cluster creatives together. (off-Eigg response)

I would be drawn to a residency in another island community. This would be much more attractive than an urban residency. (off-Eigg response)

I think the proposal for studios and an artist residency programme on Eigg is exciting, timely and challenging. It would provide opportunities for artists to spend time on Eigg; this is both an incredibly rare and valuable opportunity for immersion in an ecologically and culturally rich context, and also a vital means of real research into the possibilities of living on Eigg. This may indeed lead individuals to make a commitment to the island and move there permanently; it may lead to the expansion of a network of artists across the country with strong cultural connections to Eigg. Both outcomes seem to me to be immensely valuable. (off-Eigg response)

If you see a comment you’ve made and would rather I took it out of this summary, please just let me know – thanks

If you want to add your own comments, you can do below.

Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment

Leave a Reply