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ESW aims to be at the forefront of a productive and exciting Scottish visual arts industry; providing key elements of the visual arts infrastructure through the range of facilities and professional development opportunities on offer and raising the profile of Scotland’s artistic output through the national and international reputation of our facilities, artists, exhibitions and the creative projects we support.
In tandem with our support for artists, we want to ensure the unique learning opportunities and benefits of engaging with sculpture and contemporary visual art are available to all through affordable and fully accessible facilities and opportunities and ensure ESW provides a valuable resource which contributes to the development of the local environment.
ESW’s mission is to
- Provide facilities, promote opportunities and organise events that will attract emerging and established artists and meet the demands of sculpture and contemporary artistic practice
- Continue to support a climate that responds to changing contemporary theory and encourages debate, research and collaboration and supports artistic activity which is redefining contemporary practice.
- Involve a broad audience in a high quality programme of activities, projects and talks
- Support emerging and established artists in their professional development
Over the past 25 years ESW has been at the forefront of a revolution in Scottish and international visual art and has developed a programme rooted in education, community and contribution.
During this time ESW has supported more than 3,000 artists by providing access to affordable studio space, specialist equipment, and a range of professional opportunities including exhibitions, employment, training and residencies.
More than 48,000 public visitors and participants have benefited from ESW’s high quality range of courses, workshops, talks, open days, exhibitions and through local community projects co-ordinated by ESW.
Key Development Dates
ESW founded by a dedicated group of artists within the Federation of Scottish Sculptors, and the organisation constituted in November 1986. With £398 funding from Edinburgh District Council and the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) the group began consultation activity to identify the needs of artists and arts organisations and set about to search for a building to work from.
ESW leased 78 Albion Road in Edinburgh from WASPS where it could offer professional workshop and studios for artists and pursue its aim of becoming a centre of excellence for sculptural activities within central Scotland.
From the start the group also wanted to ensure that people of all ages and abilities had opportunities to be informed, inspired and challenged by contemporary visual art through high quality courses, workshops and events.
ESW secured revenue funding from the Scottish Arts Council and Edinburgh District Council, and a £5,000 grant from the Henry Moore Foundation.
ESW became a limited company managed by a Committee and Board of Directors and charitable status was awarded.
In late 1989 three part-time staff members were appointed - an administrator and two technicians - although payment was minimal and at least half of their time still voluntary. A part-time freelance PR Officer employed with Scottish Arts Council Incentive Grant.
Revenue Funding from the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) increased to £15,000 and Edinburgh City Council to £8,500. An equipment grant award of £7,000 was made by SAC and £1,500 awarded by the Carnegie UK Trust.
Searches began for a new site due to an imminent rent increase.
Revenue grants went up to £25,000 from SAC and £9,500 from Edinburgh City Council.
ESW secured funding from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, TSB Equipment Grant, Scottish Arts Council and the Henry Moore Foundation to move to new premises.
ESW moved into our current site in Newhaven close to the waterfront, and converted the building to include 12 (later 16) artist studios, a workshop with specialist machinery and tools, a shared working space which is used on a drop-in basis by artists or for courses and workshops, a meeting room and office space.
Revenue Funding at £30,000 from Scottish Arts Council and £11,500 from the City of Edinburgh Council.
ESW raising money for feasibility study into the potential of new premises.
Membership grown from initial eight to 110 artists and ESW has active members as far away as Norway and Japan.
Feasibility Study re future premises carried out by Scott Wilson Consultants
Consultation with artists and arts organisation and public users began around future development plans.
Director & Assistant Director appointed.
ESW current Director, Irene Kernan, appointed to develop ESW and manage the capital project. Sculptor Gordon Munro, one of the original founders, appointed as Assistant Director, responsible for coordinating the Artistic Programme whilst supporting the organisation’s core value of ensuring artists are central to decision making and to organisational and creative development.
These appointments marked the beginning of a major expansion of the organisation and of the artistic and public programmes.
Design Brief for new sculpture centre completed and Sutherland Hussey Architects appointed. Planning Committee appointed for Capital Project.
City of Edinburgh Council confirm major land gift of a 125 year lease of the site for the new sculpture centre at a peppercorn rate.
Development Officer joins the team to help bring in private funding for the new sculpture centre.
ESW secured major backing (£2.3m) for the new sculpture centre from the Scottish Arts Council National Lottery Awards.
Planning Permission for new sculpture centre granted.
Professional Development Coordinator appointed.
ESW shortlisted for £3million Arts Funding Prize for Edinburgh to fund the Creative Laboratories project to sit alongside the new Sculpture Centre.
Designs for Sculpture Centre reach RIBA Stage D.
Sculpture Centre project out to tender with building contractors.
ESW awarded the Arts Funding Prize for Edinburgh.
Construction of Sculpture Centre begins.
Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop is located in Newhaven.
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