An exploration into artistic, organisational and educational practices at edinburgh Sculpture Workshop

  • Gilmore, Charlotte (Principal Investigator)

Project Details


This interdisciplinary study’s overall objective is to enhance understanding of how organizational and creative practices influence arts performance. ‘Performance’ is seen as including artistic quality and other organizational aims such as financial return, expanding audiences and participation in the arts. This interdisciplinary approach includes management theory and practice. This research project will focus on a study of the creative, educational and organizational practices of artists at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, a leading independent UK arts organization based in Edinburgh. Structured around an organic network of independent artists, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop rents out space to individual artists as well as running particular educational programmes, exhibitions and offering residencies. Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop also initiates and collaborates on projects which involve people directly in arts activities within their own environment or which relate to an issue of local concern. The organization has established many creative partnerships with arts organizations and education institutions to support development of their own and their partners’ programmes and to identify opportunities for sharing resources, information and skills. The Workshop aims to move beyond conventional organizational structures and art traditions in order to create an environment that is a catalyst for “the creative act” in its many forms, for example sculpture (in its many material forms) and screen printing. This study will explore these different practices with an innovative study of the artists, current educational audiences and stakeholders at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.
The research will explore the realities of managing in the creative industries from different stakeholder perspectives, for example artists, board members, gallery owners, affiliated academics, teachers and school pupils. Managing is conceived as a series of activities with the aim of producing a performance in organizational and artistic terms. In the creative industries this often entails working across organizational boundaries, incorporating the efforts of diverse professionals and facilitating creative practice.
Although creative industries have been identified as economically important (Sapsed, et. al., 2008), there is a view that management and creativity are oppositional and Amabile (2001) argues that “creativity gets killed much more often than it gets supported” (p. 4). Indeed, a considerable volume of subsequent research has gone into seeking to identify best/good/promising managerial practices that impact on performance including employee involvement in decision-making, the development of the organisational skill-base, teambuilding, clear communications and reward policies (e.g. Beugelsdijk, 2008). However, a recent review (Siebers et. al., 2008) indicates that much of the evidence of a linkage between practice and performance relies on survey data provided only by senior managers. Whilst this research is valuable in providing a view of what practices are undertaken and the correlation of these practices to firm-level performance, questions about multiple stakeholders’ experience and perspectives have received little attention. Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop has been chosen as the site for this research because it typifies the complex and fluid setting referred to above, and it represents an increasingly important (and growing) mode of organizing in the creative industries.
This study has the following broad research objectives:
• To explore the work practices of artists at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop
• To investigate the organizational practices at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop
• To explore attitudes towards and the nature of relationships with Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop amongst artists, primary school teachers, peers and stakeholders, identifying both shared and differentiating issues.
• To investigate attitudes towards Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop’s education programme
Effective start/end date1/07/141/04/15


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