Spotlight on The Gallery on the Corner and GCIL Equality Academy
In the spotlight for two weeks (22 Sep – 5 Oct) is Susie Anderson, Paul Penrice and The Gallery on the Corner (Autism Initiatives), a social enterprise based in Edinburgh that’s a commercial art gallery and studio, providing a platform to exhibit and sell artwork produced by artists who have a physical or mental health condition or those from a disadvantaged background. Get in touch with Susie on 0131 557 8969 or firstname.lastname@example.org and check out: www.thegalleryonthecorner.org.uk
What’s your social and/or environmental mission? Our aim is to support the professional and personal development and progression of individuals with autism spectrum conditions and other support needs in a commercial gallery and studio setting.
How do you do it? We offer training and work experience to individuals on the autistic spectrum in art, design and retail. trainees are supported to develop key work skills such as communication, time management and organisation within a commercial gallery setting, as well as skills specific to the creative industries. We work with trainees in a way that is personal to them and can vary depending on the way they wish to develop. Previous trainees have been supported into mainstream employment in retail as well as self-employment as artists. In addition we represent and support artists who have a physical or mental health condition, or are from a disadvantaged background to exhibit and sell their work in a high profile location in the heart of Edinburgh’s gallery district. Artists are given different levels of support and mentoring depending on their needs. This includes advice such as professional presentation of work, approaching other galleries, help with administration tasks, creating a portfolio etc.
What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur? To work with individuals to give them the confidence and skills to realise their full potential, and support them in a way that is personal to them and how they wish to live their lives.
What are your current projects? Our current traineeship programme has just come to an end with participants working towards a group exhibition that finished on 20 September. The exhibition focussed on printmaking and has been, commercially, very popular with customers. Staff will continue to work with trainees during this transitional time. All trainees are exploring the possibility of becoming self-employed artists. We have a regular programme of exhibitions, with our collection changing monthly.
What exciting things do you have coming up? October sees us taking part in the annual Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival for the 5th year. We’re hosting two exhibitions. The first, Postcards from… is an open exhibition that invited 200 artists to submit postcard pieces of work. All proceeds go to support the work the Gallery does. Forces of Nature invited some of the Gallery’s regular artists to explore the Festival’s national theme of ‘power’ in a way that is personal to them. The Gallery is also taking part in Out of Sight, Out of Mind, a joint exhibition at Summerhall as part of the Festival. November welcomes back Scottish landscape artist Newton Ross for his second solo show. His first solo show with us in 2013 was a sell out and he has sold consistently well since then. In December the Gallery will be hosting exhibitions by Mull-based artist Sally Bruce Richards as well as a collection of work by participants in Crisis UK’s workshop programme.
Who do you want to work with more? We’d like City of Edinburgh Council and The Scottish Government to be more accessible and easier to work with, to allow us to further develop our training programme.
What’s your biggest challenge? Never having enough time or bodies!
What top tip would you give to other social enterprises? Have a plan. At the very beginning ask yourself what your core purpose is. Then plan how you’re going to make it happen and what you need to make it happen. Stick to it. Ensure that all parties involved in the running of your enterprise buy into the same vision.
In the spotlight for two weeks (6 – 19 Oct) is John Speirs and GCIL Equality Academy, a social enterprise based in Glasgow that empowers disabled people to increase their employment opportunities and access long term employment. Get in touch with John on 0141 375 0464 or email@example.com and check out: www.gcil.org.uk/employment/gcil-equality-academy.aspx.
Each fortnight we focus on a randomly selected social enterprise member for intense marketing support and promotion. GCIL Equality Academy will feature in all e-bulletins, on our website homepage and on all our social media, alongside other support, reaching thousands of people across Scotland and beyond.
What’s your social and/or environmental mission? GCIL Equality Academy aims to build and expand on the successful and innovative employment programmes and services developed by GCIL since 2001; services to empower disabled people to increase their employment opportunities and access long term employment. We also work with employers to review and continually improve their policies and practices in relation to equality matters.
How do you do it? GCIL Equality Academy works with employers to offer work placements from 3 to 24 months. We carry out the recruitment and offer in-work support to the successful candidates and the host placement. We deliver a comprehensive package of innovative services with equality at its core. These include a range of bespoke organisational development services tailored to our clients’ specific requirements, including access audits, equality policy development, equality training, and so on.
What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur? GCIL is a user-led organisation of disabled people. We have promoted independent living across all areas, including employment, since 1995. We support and inspire equality by providing guidance on developing comprehensive employment policies and procedures that embed equality matters.
What are your current projects? We’re providing 15 traineeships of 24 months and 45 internships of 13 weeks across three years. We’re delivering our equality service in partnership with organisations to review and continually improve their organisational development and policies in all aspects of equality matters. Services which help employers meet their legal duties and comply with good practice guidance.
What exciting things do you have coming up? We’re expanding our equality services across Scotland from public and voluntary sectors to include the private sector. We’re working with large organisations that have recognised their commitment to increasing the number of disabled people within their work place or the need to assess their organisational practices in terms of equality.
Who do you want to work with more? Our main client base has been within the public sector, but we have a lot to offer private organisations and to support them in seeing the benefits of promoting equality.
What’s your biggest challenge? As a new service trying to establish ourselves, being financially sustainable in the long term.
What top tip would you give to other social enterprises? Set small goals initially and achieve these, while reacting to what people and organisations needs and being flexible in your approach.