Civic House Studio Member Profile: Jade Sturrock, Glasgow Connected Arts Network (GCAN)

15 May 2023

Glasgow Connected Arts Network have been a valued member of Civic House Studio since we first opened in July 2022.

Can you tell us who you are and what you do?

Hello everyone! I’m Jade, the Membership and Communications Coordinator at Glasgow Connected Arts Network (GCAN). I lead on the membership strategy and programming which is designed to support our network of folks from all different creative backgrounds. I have been with GCAN since 2019, and have built the membership from 200 to just over 600 individuals and organisations (and growing!) I am also a participatory visual artist who has worked as a freelancer with lots of different community groups and my creative practice has led to partnerships with organisations such as The Fostering Network, Project Ability, The Women’s Support Project, MILK Cafe, Village Storytelling Centre, Queen’s Cross Housing Association and more. I am currently undertaking a part time MA in Applied Arts and Social Practice with Queen Margaret University.

Can you tell us about GCAN? How did it come about, what sort of work does the organisation do? Who do you work with?

GCAN was founded in 2014, on the belief that creative provision and the arts should be accessible to all, to support children, young people, families and communities facing barriers to participation. We work every day with creatives, community members and young people aged 16-25. Our aims are to support a strong, capable and confident participatory arts sector in Glasgow. Our organisation acts as a hub and mechanism for connection, listening and responding to the needs of arts workers and supporting them in their practice. We achieve this by facilitating skills and resource sharing, exchange of ideas, and access to training, partnership, and networking opportunities. Our focus is on helping people to embed socially aware practices into arts activities across the city, particularly targeting communities that are often overlooked and experience barriers to participation.

What are the best bits about your job?

I’m so lucky to meet and hear from people from all walks of life with inspiring stories to tell and really interesting creative practices. I also love that the relationship between us and members and between our community is symbiotic, we all learn from and support each other. I really value hearing lots of different perspectives and collectively working towards better support and opportunities for artists, it’s something I am deeply passionate about. For example, I was recently able to support someone through a 1-to-1 session to apply for funding to run a much needed project supporting new mums to explore their creativity. When I heard they got the grant I was truly delighted for them and really invested in how it all goes. I also love working with our young participants and witnessing the huge amounts of talent they all hold.

Biggest challenges?

We are such a small organisation with huge ambitions and I think sometimes we come across as much bigger than our wee team of 3 part time staff! We always have lots of exciting things on the go so we’ve become great at juggling, but we are taking a bit of a breather at the moment to focus on strategy so that we can continue to serve the creative community in the most sustainable way possible.

What attracted you to Civic House Studio Coworking space as a base for your work?

We really loved the peaceful environment and the focussed energy in the space. It’s such a brilliant hub for meeting other innovative thinkers and has such a friendly vibe. Parveens is honestly the best lunch place in town – it’s something I look forward to every week and I’ve been telling people to come, not that they need much convincing!

Can you tell us about what sorts of plans/projects are brewing for GCAN in 2023?

Yes! We are really excited to be working on the development of the organisation with support from Creative Scotland. So much of our focus has been on continuous hands-on delivery during Covid without much space to think about future plans and focus.This is an important opportunity for us to take a bit of a step back and re-evaluate our programme and activities. It’s a pivotal time for us as we’re standing on the threshold of greater things and we know that support for people working creatively is needed now more than ever. In consultation with the creative community we’ll be looking at what that support for Glasgow’s creative and cultural should be moving forward. Our Young Emerging Artists programme, for those aged 16-24 is also back in full swing, with loads of exciting workshops, events and our Participatory Arts Short Course running again this year.

Where can we find out more about GCAN?

You can find out more by heading to our website and reading our latest annual reports.
You can also keep an eye on what events we have coming up for creative folks by following us on Eventbrite or signing up to our monthly newsletters.

How can people get involved?

At the moment, it’s completely free to join as a member and you can do this by filling out a short form on our website. This will automatically sign you up for the newsletters which have loads of handy resources and arty happenings in Glasgow. We’d also love for you to join us on the 23rd and 24th of May at Civic House for our ‘What’s Next?’ development sessions, where you’re invited to bring a friend, grab some food with us, hang out and brainstorm about what kinds of support creative people want should be getting. No matter what your practice is – from arts coordinators to designers, muralists and musicians, your voice will be instrumental in helping us develop a new offering, and it’ll also be a great opportunity to learn more about GCAN and meet other inspiring creative people. You can find out more / sign up here.

Anything else you’d like to add?

If you’re aged 16-24, you can also get involved in the Young Emerging Artists Programme including the Bold Collective. They’re always welcoming people to join the committee and be part of Glasgow’s most dynamic Youth Arts collective. You can find out more about the programme here.