There has been significant growth in the provision of studios, design offices and creative workspaces in Scotland.

These communities can have a wider economic and social value, helping to regenerate areas by stimulating local business growth and attracting inward investment as artistic communities occupy previously under-invested areas.

However, this kind of development still often leaves creative workspace communities vulnerable – on short term leases, competing with large scale commercial property developers and unable to access specific financial support. This continues to make the setting-up of sustainable workspaces a real challenge for individuals in the creative sector.

Therefore, anyone considering developing creative workspace needs to understand a variety of emergent creative business, funding and income structures to create their own hybrid model – each project should share a common mission to provide space that remains affordable to artists, that encourages and supports innovative working methods and creates an identifiable personal ‘brand’. This outline guide seeks to clarify some of the issues you will experience when first considering the set-up of your studio/workspace. This may be a building with multiple work areas, a single workshop or office, a gallery, or a temporary work/exhibition space.

Different issues will apply if you are starting a project for the first time (with a need for signposting and accessing skills, new partnerships guidance and initial funding to help maximise opportunities), or if you are an existing group (with a need to strengthen business and financial models, develop a new company structure or expand your current space). You may also wish to connect your project to associated ‘pop-up’ short-term opportunities, mixed creative profiles, studio collaborations and exchange programmes, ownership forms and other business partnerships. With a mix of possibilities to consider you will need to build a clearly defined path for the project to successfully develop.

The guide is divided into four clear areas of an investigation depending on what stage you are at with your project:

  1. Planning a Space
  2. Finding a Space
  3. Developing a Space
  4. Managing a Space

One of the key issues is the ability to act rapidly on property opportunities in the face of difficult competition from commercial developers and other uses. Also, at some point, you may find you are working on several stages at one time and activities may overlap. This outline guide is set out to prepare and enable you to make decisions quickly and to provide a basic check-list to consider so that you can organise future assistance with advisors at the Cultural Enterprise Office, or for you to carry out further research effectively on your own – however, this is not a definitive list. Each project will have its own challenges and specific areas of focus depending on what you specifically want to do – so you will need to organise your own individual approach to ensure you create a plan that fits your creative practice.

N.B. This is a non-legal guide. It relates to finding, renting and buying property in Scotland. Be aware that Scotland is a separate jurisdiction from England and Wales, and has a separate legal system.