About Artlink Central
Artlink Central is an established small charity and social enterprise to produce initiatives involving professional artists that uses inclusive creative practices to positively shift systemic barriers to engagement in the arts and civic life for the communities we serve, generally focusing on mental health and disability, but increasingly looking to work more inclusively and to be more intersectional in our approach.
Our work has evolved to be more place focussed and we also have a specific interest in commissioning participatory and inclusive work in public spaces. We run:
- creative social prescription services, particularly for people experiencing mental health issues or dementia, such as our ‘dial an artist’ scheme
- member led arts initiatives such as Artreach, our collaborative and cross-art form programme for people with learning disabilities
- self-directed support services for people who want to put their creativity at the heart of their social care services, for instance Lauren who is a young artist with an acquired brain injury who we support with access to her own studio and support artists, who help her with her visual arts practice and career path
- healthcare arts projects, from big public art commissions supporting organ donation or oncology to intimate patient centred music sessions for people living with dementia
We also co-ordinate two place based cultural programmes, Scene Stirling and Camelon Arts which are committed to developing and supporting arts and cultural activity.
Artlink Central has tended to work in a very regional way in the Forth Valley area of Scotland, with some national projects, but increasingly, we have begun to reach beyond Scotland in particular working on joint projects with a Canadian social care partnership and with Japanese academics on a research project regarding the impact of arts of disabled children.
We are also part of Justice and Arts Scotland, a member led arts organisation which looks to develop and share Scotland’s practice of arts and social justice and increasingly through developing collaborative practice across Stirling which is both a city and large rural area, during Covid-19 we have realised the scope to work much more collaboratively beyond our area through digital and see opportunities to connect Stirling artists to other networks of creatives.
Collaboration Ideas with China
The connection to China has been through a direct approach from the British Council to contribute towards an arts and inclusion exchange. Following on from this we are keen to discover more about the cultural landscape in China and to connect with other arts agencies and artists whose work resonates with our own. We recognise the value of building conversations where we can exchange ideas, not only as a company, but also by connecting our artist networks, our participants to Chinese participants as we embrace digital, and also seek new ways to create and present inclusive art.
Artlink Central has necessarily begun to work in new ways through Covid-19 many of which have encouraged people we support to make work in new ways using digital. We are also keen to take this as a starting point to opening our practices and networks wider and potentially trialling some shared creative workshops and exchanges with creatives and creative groups in China, for example twinning our mental health arts prescription with Chinese mental health arts group, by connecting Stirling based artists supported through our collaborative work with eight Stirling based cultural partners to a Chinese network of artists for some joint cultural exchanges about inclusion, place and culture, to perhaps exploring some professional experience about the arts and social inclusion in relation to criminal justice through our Justice and Arts Scotland artist talks project delivered in with arts professionals who work across justice settings in Scotland.
As an organisation we are in a place where we are open to new ideas, but also keen to focus on making our practice more visible and to explore ways we can widen our partnerships beyond our small geographic area of work. We are really open to the kind of partner we work with, but are particularly interested in smaller organisations looking to make systemic change and potentially for organisations who are led by disabled people or whose participants have a strong say in how their work is developed.
We are interested in partners who collaborate with socially engaged artists and we are keen to build partnerships with organisations who share interests in social justice, disability, art in healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. We have a strong practice in supporting creative projects supporting and led by people living with dementia and are keen to work with others who are interested in this too. We are keen to try and involve staff, both producers and artists, as well as the people we support as participants to be involved in any collaboration or exchange so would be keen to find a partner open to this.