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Arts / Gaada’s Scalloway plans aim to make ‘art more accessible and inclusive for all Shetlanders’

Creativity in full flow at GAADA's first risograph printmaking workshop earlier this month.
Creativity in full flow at a Gaada risograph printmaking workshop in 2018.

ARTS organisation Gaada is seeking help in finding a site for new premises in Scalloway as it looks to expand.

It currently operates out of the former Methodist kirk at Bridge End in Burra but it has limited capacity and lacks disabled access.

Gaada is teaming up with Turner Prize winning architecture and design collective Assemble to develop Future Site – “an ambitious proposal for a community-focused visual arts workshop + project space in Scalloway”.

The organisation – which looks to open up art to all – said it has hit a number of “dead ends with landowners” in Scalloway over the last 18 months.

But it is now looking for suggestions and help in securing a suitable site.

“We are excited to share our proposal with the public after over two years of private discussion with local stakeholders,” Gaada director Daniel Clark said.

“We truly believe Gaada can contribute massively to Shetland both in economic and cultural terms, and our partnership with Assemble will develop a permanent space that will enable Gaada to continue making art more accessible and inclusive for all Shetlanders long into the future.”

The Future Site project aims to attract locals and visitors all year round, and it supports the wider delivery of the recently established Scalloway Local Place Plan.

The idea is to create a fit for purpose building housing state of the art printmaking and ceramics facilities alongside flexible studio spaces that will meet a wide range of artist needs.

It would also provide a base for Gaada’s library of artist-made zines and publications, and project space and a gallery as well as a shop.

There is also a plan to include a Changing Places toilet in the building, which provides extra accessibility.

Gaada says this new building would enable it to deliver more learning and development opportunities to people in Shetland, as well as creating more jobs in the arts and attracting more skilled creatives to the isles.

The project also has the support of care organisation Self-Directed Support Scotland.

Development executive Mark Hans-Johnson said: “Gaada have pioneered opportunities for artistic development with people often marginalised or unable to access mainstream opportunities. They have done so in a way that creates a safe and supportive environment, whilst enabling people to explore and realise their hidden potential.

“In addition Gaada has supported local partners to develop their systems to enable disabled people to exercise real choice and control over the resources available to them.”

Scalloway Community Council and the village’s community development company are also in support.

“We want to put Shetland culture at the centre of Scotland’s art landscape, by supporting the development of local skills and ideas with inclusive and accessible making spaces,” Clark added.

“Artists possess a wide variety of practical and problem-solving skills, and we’ve found that widening access to this through a supportive workshop environment, builds resilience and independence in people whilst also putting out new and exciting ideas and skills back into the local community.

“Not only that, whilst also increasing the position of Shetland as a place to visit and work for young people.”

People with ideas for how to take the project forward can get in touch with Gaada here.