Forming a consortium co-operative with help from Co+operative Development Scotland (CDS) has allowed the artists behind Such and Such to increase their visibility and earning potential by sharing premises, equipment and marketing opportunities.
Such and Such is a consortium of four Edinburgh-based artists specialising in jewellery design, animation and illustration. The members launched the co-operative in 2010 to collaborate and share costs and resources.
Joining forces has allowed them to open a studio-gallery where they can make, exhibit and sell their own and other artists’ work. “None of us could have afforded individually to rent a space like the one we’ve got now because the overheads would have been too much,” explained Such and Such member Charlotte Hannett.
“This way it’s more manageable and is paying for itself.” Caroline Cloughley added: “There is more opportunity to collaborate with other artists and we can share costs if we want to order materials.
Making thecommitment to be a formal co-operative means we’re not just thinking of ourselves any more. Having other people involved is pushing us to be more business-minded and professional.”
The members of Such and Such are all professionally-trained art school graduates:
Alexandra Fiddes – jewellery designer, working in silver, felt and mixed materials.
Charlotte Hannett – jewellery designer specialising in silver.
David Lemm – illustrator and filmmaker working in print and video.
Caroline Cloughley – jewellery designer combining precious metals with acetate, laminate and other material.
The members knew they wanted to start a co-operative but needed guidance. They heard about CDS through a contact in Glasgow and met with one of its specialist advisers. The adviser explained the different business models and recommended a consortium co-operative, which would allow the members to reduce costs, share risks and access new opportunities while retaining their individual brands, independence and control.
The adviser provided a customised set of Memorandum and Articles for the company registration process and sample Member’s Agreements, which set out the aims of the co-operative and how the members work together.
FUNDING THE BUSINESS
Each member invested around £500 to cover start-up costs such as studio refurbishment and marketing. Studio rental, exhibition hosting and other running costs are shared.
Juggling time – the members all have other jobs but have worked out a rota to keep the studio open at key times. There are fortnightly meetings on a Monday evening to discuss ideas, opportunities and work in hand. The members keep in touch regularly by phone and email when they are not in the studio together. Business tasks are shared equally between members, who know their strengths and will volunteer to undertake whichever jobs need to be done for the benefit of the consortium.
Increased exposure – a new brand, studio and blog help promote joint exhibitions and collaborations with other artists.
Sharing costs and risk – rent and other costs are shared. “We’re hoping to buy some more equipment, which we may not have been able to afford on our own,” Charlotte explained. “It’s much easier with four of us, because we can all chip in.”
Mutual support – “It’s about being in an environment where there’s a support network,” said David. “You feel as if you’re part of something that’s got a bit of momentum.”
Motivation – Caroline said: “As I work part time, it used to be quite difficult to motivate myself to go to my workshop in my free time on my own, so it was an attractive concept to work with people in the same situation.”
Increased professionalism – “Being set up as a co-operative gives you that little bit of extra security and forces us to treat it more like a business,” said Charlotte.
For more information or advice on starting your own co-operative in Scotland, please visit www.cdscotland.co.uk or call 0141 951 3055.