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Insight story: Impact Arts - Inspiring Scotland

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Insight story: Impact Arts

Setting the scene  

Impact Arts is part of the CashBack for Communities portfolio of charities and works to tackle inequalities through creative engagement in 30 local authorities across Scotland. It uses art to improve the lives of communities – for example combatting loneliness in older populations or increasing confidence and employability opportunities for young people. 

Since taking over a new space named ‘The Boardwalk’ in Glasgow’s Merchant City in March 2023, the charity has been looking at ways to engage more people and increase revenue streams. However, the foyer entrance into the building was dated and not the warm, welcome, creative space to represent the vibrant work of the charity.   

That’s where our ever-resourceful Specialist Volunteer Network (SVN) team came into play! Fiona Doring, the chief executive officer from Impact Arts got in touch, looking for support and advice on how to best use the space available and for that all-important design keen eye.   

Spaces with impact  

The Boardwalk had been largely closed throughout the Covid lockdowns and the foyer felt cold, and a bit worn. Overall, it did not reflect the arts organisation that values all things creative, inclusive and fun… 

Fiona Doring, CEO at Impact Arts said, “We knew that we wanted to fill the space with the art created in our projects so that visitors could see what work they were supporting by hosting their events at The Boardwalk. Given the space is so large though, it was a little intimidating knowing where to begin.” 

After an initial consultation, our Specialist Volunteer Network team matched Impact Arts with Simah Aslam, Workplace Design Manager at abrdn. Her wealth of experience with architectural and interior design meant she was able to take a holistic approach for what would work best in the space, which was high impact but low cost  

Simah had a clear vision which gave the area structure and purpose. Firstly, this involved painting the full, double height atrium, and removing black cabling that ran round the middle of the space that was not only unsightly but a tripping hazard.  

The space is now so much brighter, the walls are covered in a changing exhibition of artwork created by Impact Arts participants of all ages and the colour scheme hangs together in a coherent way.  

Thanks to a connection made by Simah, Impact Arts has a new partnership with Spacestor, who provided furnishings and now the space is fully kitted out with beautiful, dedicated meeting nooks for people to have private conversations, take Teams calls or use as quiet spaces for anyone experiencing feelings of sensory overload. It is also filled with plants which is known to improve wellbeing.  

In return Spacestor can use the Boardwalk to showcase the meeting pods to prospective clients.  

Results  

Fast forward to August 2023, the space has now been transformed into an open communal working space with creative flair.   

Fiona from Impact Arts said, “Simah has been incredibly helpful. I’m not sure we’d have had the confidence to invest so much in this had she not been supporting us. Having completed it though, it is clear that this has made a huge difference to the space.” 

The Boardwalk has a wide range of visitors from dance artists and performers to third sector and corporate organisations, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The foyer is a space for people to come together and to exchange ideas and collaborate.  

Fiona continues, “Organisations who book our meeting and conference spaces love the fact that The Boardwalk is a vibrant and different environment for their events and that they are giving back to those people who need the greatest support every time they hold their event there.” 

“You never know what is going on behind the closed studio doors but when you are in the foyer you hear the occasional music and performance floating through which is a lovely reminder of the purpose of the venue. Young and older participants on Impact Arts projects have also loved seeing their artwork hung in our foyer gallery, knowing that it has had an audience of over 10,000 visitors through our doors in the last six months.” 

Working with Simah has also brought new audiences to the work of Impact Arts. Suppliers can bring clients to the space and showcase their products in a live working environment and Impact Arts also lease out the space to other companies who want to host events therefore bringing an extra revenue stream. 

A full circle moment  

Impact Arts has been an Inspiring Scotland partner for many years. For the kick-off meeting of the latest phase of the CashBack for Communities programme, Minister for Victims and Community Safety, Siobhian Brown visited the space to learn more about the projects funded by the programme.  

We even took a moment for a group picture in the foyer! 

 

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