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February 26, 2014

Creative economy

The islanders of Eigg have become synonymous with green energy and community ownership and have rightly earned international acclaim for their achievements in these fields. Although both the energy and ownership model have been catalysts in the island’s renaissance, they aren’t sufficient in themselves to drive forward the island’s economic development.  Creativity and the arts are often viewed by governments as being in the ‘nice to have’ category or the ‘low hanging fruit’ when looking for cuts in spending. Perhaps Eigg can once again turn conventional thinking on its head.


Investing in Creativity: how art is the new way to enhance Eigg’s economy.

Eigg Box will be a new space for artists to make and do creative work.  The newly built eco workspace on the Isle of Eigg will bring together local island creative businesses with artists from around the world.

Established as a self-sustaining social enterprise, Eigg Box will be a powerhouse of creative activity, entrepreneurship, inspiration and collaboration. However, unlike its urban counterparts, Eigg Box’s eco-built studios and creative workspace will be on the Isle of Eigg; a community-owned, renewably-powered island, off the north-west coast of Scotland with a population of less than 100.

Eigg Box turns on its head the notion that a centre of entrepreneurship and creativity needs to be at the centre of population.

Eigg Box makes the remote central.

The Why?

Other similar (mainland) projects have shown providing high quality, custom built working space increases productivity, reduces isolation, and offers tenants the opportunity to share costs, collaborate and pitch for work jointly. Time spent as a visiting artist-in-residence can motivate, transform and inspire creative practice, and bring new skills and perspective to a local community.

For island-based artists and creative businesses, Eigg Box means somewhere better to work, companionship and creative collaboration and a working environment with fewer distractions and more focus than the kitchen table! Eigg Box also offers the chance to share everything from skills and ideas, to the electricity bill, marketing and training.

For Eigg it means new and more diverse island businesses, providing much needed local employment, helping retain and grow our population and providing community benefit.

For visiting artists, Eigg Box means coming to join a vibrant and supportive group of like-minded creative souls and experience Eigg community life. It offers artists the chance not just to work in a different (and very beautiful) place, but also engage with the Eigg community, with ideas, issues and concepts that are out of their norm and challenge perspectives on what living on an island is all about. At the end of the day, we all live on an island, Eigg is just a bit smaller!

Eigg Box will provide:

Work space for creative businesses in self contained studios, open plan studio spaces or hot desks

You can work in Eigg Box:

•             On a part or full-time basis (Eigg islanders)

•             As visiting artist or creative professional; from a few days up to three months

•             As a day visitor

As well as work space Eigg Box will have:

•             An event or temporary exhibition space

•             An area to relax in, share a coffee and ideas

•             A kitchen

•             An online shop

•             Storage space

•             Wireless broadband access (currently 6Mb, aiming for 50Mb)

•             Regular training and professional development opportunities

•             A meeting room which will include skype & video conferencing facilities

Eigg Box will also run events and training for tenants and in conjunction with local and visiting creative organisations.

Benefits to tenants include:

•             Having appropriate space to work in

•             Less isolation

•             Opportunity to collaborate

•             Opportunity to develop and pitch for work jointly

•             Sharing of costs and resources

•             Promotion and marketing of work

•             Support from Eigg Box manager & fellow tenants

•             Business advice, mentoring and other support

As a visiting artist, the chance to spend time living & working on Eigg, being part of our community with time and space to develop ideas, skills and practice.

Eigg Box aims to contribute to the local economy directly and indirectly by working with and supporting other island businesses:

•             Accommodation providers (hostel, guest houses/B&B & self-catering)

•             Catering & transport providers

•             Other creative service businesses – dance studio & recording studio

•             Community spaces – community hall, primary school, museums

Creativity is now becoming firmly established as an innovative way to sustain our islands’ economy. Let’s have more of it!

This month will see the completion of Sweeney’s Bothy on Eigg,. It is the latest building in the Scotland-wide Bothy Project initiated in 2009 by artists Bobby Niven and Will Foster.

Sweeney’s Bothy is the third in the planned network of small-scale, off-grid art residency spaces in distinct and diverse locations around Scotland.

You can find out more about the processes that led to the whole vision being developed by looking at Sweeney’s Bothy and the blog posts associated with it.

The Bothy warming party on Saturday 15 February will be followed by constant occupation of the space by visiting artists for the next few months as it is fully booked until June! The focus for the residencies will be wilderness ecology, and we are looking forward to some stimulating interaction between the visiting artists, the Green Team and the Earth Connections Centre on Eigg.