Developing a space

CEO Business Expert, Chris Biddlecombe, highlights things to consider when developing a space for your creative business in Scotland

Fitting-out your space

When you have located and secured access to an appropriate building to adapt into a new creative space, the next initial steps that you need to consider are:

When your lease is agreed and you have finance in place, work can begin on the upgrade of your space. Before commencing work ensure that you have written agreement with the landlord for any structural or layout changes. Also ensure that any change of use or planning permission is granted and signed off with the local authority. The organising and scheduling of this work should be carefully planned, and aligned with the start date of occupation – carefully organise the order in which work should be most effectively carried out and be realistic about timescales – create a complete scheduled programme. Decide at an early stage whether you can phase the works program to allow early access to tenants or to accommodate a limited initial budget – prioritise essential and non-essential work. Consider how you are going to carry out different elements of the work – architect, paid contractors, staff/partner support and volunteers – and organise well in advance. Ensure that all volunteers and discounted aid is clearly defined and that there are genuine incentives, training or in-kind support for these workers. Ensure you receive the appropriate certification for all electrical, gas and structural work at the completion of the project development.

Who will financially assist

Consider all forms of support for the project – financial, materials, grants, sponsorship, professional advice, in-kind services, volunteers – you may need to allocate a pre-development time period to fundraise for specific upgrades. Also consider the potential for exchanges of service with your landlord – in some instances you may be able to negotiate a rent free period in exchange for carrying out an upgrade to the property. Using your business plans aims and objectives will assist in identifying potential financial supporters of the project – identifying the most appropriate creative and local supporters will also assist connectivity and integration of your project into the wider community.

Developing a programme

In alignment with your business plan a programme of activities should now begin to be considered in anticipation of the space opening. You will have your own specific creative focus and you should relate these activities (both in the short and long term) to directly support the long term sustainability of the project, the promotion of the presence of the space and its cultural users and the engagement with the wider community.

Formal support structures and insurance

To ensure that your building and creative programme functions efficiently, safely and within standard legislation, you will have to consider a basic code of practice with associated management procedures. Types and complexity of procedures will vary depending on the size of project, but as standard practice you should begin to organise:

  • An operational structure of how the facility will operate on a day to day basis
  • An organisational structure that puts into place staffing and the management of specific operational responsibilities – including governance issues if you have a formal board of directors
  • An equal opportunities policy
  • A health and safety plan that will include the safe use of materials and equipment, accident/emergency procedures, fire safety, first aid and training
  • A security plan to identify risks regarding materials, tenants and public access.

You will also need to understand overall liability for all aspects of the building operation through appropriate insurance – therefore you need to understand what is your responsibility and what is your landlord’s responsibility. Beyond a standard contents insurance policy, you will also need to consider public liability insurance, indemnity insurance, buildings insurance and employers liability insurance.

Who will use the space

Your business plan will have identified and initiated potential artist tenants for the building and other users/audience that will use the facilities. You should now be making contact with those individuals who have indicated interest to initiate agreements and understand if you need to carry out further investigations to maximise your tenant and activities list when the space opens.

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