Creative Strathaven was originally founded as a Facebook group in March 2017 by one of our directors, Mhairi Anderson. Mhairi had moved back to Strathaven in August 2016 after living and studying in Dundee for 5 years. It wasn't long before Mhairi realised she didn't really know anyone living in the town any more, was struggling to meet like-minded people, and was finding it difficult to get to events in Glasgow and Edinburgh. It turned out that there were several people in a similar situation.
The Facebook Group gave people the chance to start connecting with others, but it also gave Mhairi the chance to see what people were looking for from a community arts organisation. Shortly after the Facebook Group was founded, it became clear that there was potential for Creative Strathaven to become a fully fledged arts organisation.
We started small by holding some sketch crawls throughout the town (they'll be making a come back in 2022) before hosting our first Christmas Makers Market in November 2017 which is now a regular feature in the town's events calendar.
Since 2017, we've run lots of other events.
We run monthly meet-ups - Cake and Makes and Creative Socials - which are all about getting people together to meet other creatives, establish connections and have the potential to lead to collaborations. Our Cake and Makes are a bit like a knit and natter as we craft whilst having a good chat over a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Whereas the Creative Socials are all about the chat and meeting new people over a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic).
Various workshops have become a staple feature of our events calendar. We've done ring-making to embroidery and macrame to painting planters, and have enjoyed all of them. Everyone who comes along has a great time learning a new skill or fine tuning an old one. And, there's always plenty of tea and cake.
To showcase the artists living in the area, we held our first art exhibition in April 2018. With over 18 exhibitors, it gave local artists the chance to exhibit their work to a local audience. We had so many visitors to the exhibition and the feedback was amazing. It was a great opportunity to see just how talented local creatives are.
But, the most exciting thing so far is the launch of our space at 2 Barn Street Mews. Our space will become a creative community hub but Covid-19 has meant we've had to take things very slowly. The space has mainly been operating as a shop that gives local and Scottish makers the opportunity to sell their products to a new market. We're already enjoying running events from the space (now that we can) but are now looking ahead to 2022 when we will be able to properly do what we set out to do from the beginning: to bring like-minded people together and support the members of our creative community.