The comments contained are my own views and not necessarily those of Craft Town Scotland/the West Kilbride Community Initiative Limited.
Spurred into action, I've put pen to paper...well, put my keyboard 'skills' into action, and created my first Director's blog post. I dare say I could be accused of being a 'poacher turned gamekeeper' having spent several years after graduating from the Glasgow School of Art creating ceramic works for exhibitions and galleries from our converted garage. Several career detours followed, although always in the creative sector. At a time when I was faced with the dilema of whether or not to respond to increasing demand for my interior decor and decorative artwork services by setting up premises and employing freelance staff, the post of Craft Development Officer was advertised by the West Kilbride Community Initiative. Part-time, I saw it as an opportunity to get back into my studio practice whilst working within both a craft and community development project. 12 years later, and as the project has grown, my role as Executive Director has sidelined my plans to return to full-time making (for now) but I still remember most keenly why I love making things, what the challenges are and what the rewards can be - that's why I remain a happy gamekeeper who is known to err on the side of the poacher!
Commission and the Barony Centre
Whilst the capital development of the Barony Centre was funded by grants, the day-to-day running costs of the facility are not publicly funded and have to rely on earned income alone. The venue is a sizeable and stunning resource, with great care and attention having been given to the creation of a space which enabled large scale exhibitions to be shown. Over and above all other running costs, there is a cost to staging exhibitions. For example, bringing national and international touring exhibitions requires payment of a fee by our organisation - which will include payment to the exhibitors for the creation of new work, exhibition design, graphic design and the cost of transporting the work to and from our venue. We remain extremely proud to have been open for over 4 years during which time we have maintained our policy of free entry for all to every exhibition.
During the project development phase of the Barony Centre, we carried out consultations with makers, gallerists and curators - our 40% commission rate reflects the views expressed at that time. 20% VAT, which is paid directly to HMRC, is then added to the commission only. The maker/artist determines the price onto which the gallery commission is added; in fact we encourage makers to cost their work appropriately to their time and level of skill and professionalism. This includes those makers who do not class themselves as full-time practitioners reliant on their craft for income. Under pricing work undermines the value of craft and those makers/artists who do aim to make a living as professional makers/artists.
Having exhibited across the UK in public and privately funded galleries, I understand the mutually beneficial relationship between makers/artists and galleries. I know that larger scale venues similar to the Barony Centre (which are not publicly funded) and other private galleries levy similar commission rates. Exhibition opportunities, a diverse range of selling opportunities and the chance for audiences to see work ‘up close and personal’ require physical venues. These also rely on the skills and professionalism of all involved in the sector being appropriately valued, whether they be professional or 'amateur' practitioners, gallerists, curators, students, writers and academics.
Craft Town Scotland consists of The Barony Centre and 9 Craft studios; the studio accommodation provides support to 10 makers by offering similar supportive conditions to those of other studio providers. As a project of West Kilbride Community Initiative Limited, a locally led registered charity managed by a volunteer board of trustees, if any profit is made this will be directly re-invested in sustaining and improving our services. Our goal is to cover our costs and continue to be part of West Kilbride’s drive to improve its town centre whilst continuing to provide access to creative and cultural activities, exhibitions and events.
Maggie M. Broadley
Executive Director, Craft Town Scotland