We caught up with Creative Project Programmer, Kathryn Spence, to tell us about upcoming artist opportunities here at Shetland Arts.

Autumn is normally a good time to hunker down, and I write this with a gale blowing outside. It feels like a perfect time to come together to discuss what it really is like to be an artist working here, and explore opportunities of funding applications, where we can really put energy into future creative ambitions.


First to mention is our Visual Arts and Crafts Makers Awards, the next deadline for this is 24th October (first round). These are developmental awards, with a real focus on monetary support to allow an artist opportunity to really develop or explore a new idea without the need for commercial focus. This development could take the form of mentoring, training, new materials or travel for something you can’t do locally. See Julie Willmore’s post here about her most recent award. This is a national award, with 26 schemes currently happening around Scotland.

The panel for this award is made up of Shetland Arts employees, Creative Scotland and a local freelance artist, usually a previous VACMA recipient. Feedback will be offered to applicants that have not been successful.

If you’re interested in applying for VACMA we have a workshop on Tuesday to help you apply. In this workshop, we will learn how to write about and photograph your work for applications. We will also go over the guidelines for VACMA. This workshop will be useful for funding applications in general – there's a few open right now on Creative Scotland’s Opportunities page, so even if VACMA isn’t right for you, this session could still be useful. Booking is essential – email me on [email protected]

‘Centre of Everywhere, Middle of Nowhere’

Coming up in early November we have our Artist Lab ‘Centre of Everywhere, Middle of Nowhere’. This idea was conceived with the intention to really place rural artists and the excellent work they do at the centre of discussions, using cross island working to reflect on our similarities and differences and how we can share resources to develop our work. Three artists were selected from an open call across the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland to reflect upon rural artistry, the Culture Collective project and set themes that each outlined in their applications. This is a funded opportunity and artists were selected from a panel made up of a representative of each of the island groups. Some of the themes highlighted in the successful artists’ applications are:

  • Common ground, celebrate differences, raising each other up.

  • How do artists maintain themselves and their practice – is a second job necessary or can income be found to maintain an art career?

  • Culture change and loss of distinctiveness such as erosion of local language; limits the diversity of artists, their outputs, and their audiences.

  • Island versus city living

Together, the artists will work together to create a publication that can be shared and distributed online and by paper copy, and we are looking forward to creating this new resource. The artists work across different art forms, and there will be a mix of in-person artist collaboration and online meetings to maximise inclusion.

We’re inviting local artists to come and contribute to this publication at an open session from 11:30-12:30 on Wednesday 1 November. This is a free event in Mareel with no set agenda, other than opportunity to meet one another and learn about some of the themes the artists are discussing. Come along and meet us, as well as the invited artists, myself and Carol Dunbar for Pier Arts Centre will also be there. Booking is essential, drop me an email [email protected]

Young Writers Mentorship

For the authors there is a new mentorship opportunity through a collaboration between Shetland Arts and Shetland Library. We’re looking for two published author mentors to inspire and support the Young Writers Award winners 2023 (13-19yrs category) to inspire young writers to tell the stories they want to tell. We are looking for writers who can encourage and enable young people in developing their work or exploring a new way of working, to try a different format or to just share their interest. The deadline for this is Sunday 12 November. For more information see Shetland Library Young Writer 2023 | Shetland Arts

Keep an eye out for more opportunities....in the meantime you can also access our free Upskilling courses Upskilling Courses for Creative Practitioners | Shetland Arts and did you know we also have a page of useful online resources Online Development Resources | Shetland Arts?

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