Social Enterprise Week - Erskine Arts
Social Enterprise Week - Erskine Arts
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Social Enterprise Week - Erskine Arts

17/11/2021 (Staff Post - Iain Cunningham )

Social Enterprise Day is an occassion to raise awareness and celebrate Social Enterprises, but who wants just a day? We continue our WEEK of social enterprise spotlights with the brilliant Erskine Arts.

"I initially got asked to volunteer a few hours per week through a friend. The Local Youth Council had some money to buy music equipment to allow young people to come in and practice for a few hours per week. I had spent the previous 8 years playing in an indie band full time and when that came to an end I was excited to get involved in a community project. Eventually all the music, live sound, design and film work that I had done with my band evolved into the creation of EMMS. I actually spent a couple of years doing primary school education at Strathclyde Uni and although music overtook that - I always had an idea that I would do something youth based. We are now becoming a larger Charity ‘Erskine Arts’ and we have a great staff team working on all sorts of community and cultural engagement from music tuition to LGBTQ+ groups. The young people that come through our doors get hands on practical experience as we carry out live events and media work and many of them use the skills to get into college, Uni or even the workplace. It’s very rewarding to see their own personal developments.

It was all very natural. The project evolved over the years and started as an unincorporated group developing up to become a a social enterprise so I suppose the biggest challenge was going through a legal process of being incorporated and encouraging trustees to commit the time and energy required. We have been very lucky to have had some amazing trustees in the past and our current board of directors are particularly skilled and very supportive. The most difficult part I suppose has been keeping the project sustainable. Grant funding is only a third of our annual turnover so there is lots of pressure to compete in the creative marketplace whilst offering a high quality service.

Ensure you surround yourself with likeminded people. My better half has always said to me “Your vibe attracts your tribe”. I’m still learning, even after 12 years, to adopt this moto but it really is true. Sometimes setting up a social enterprise - you feel like you are the only one doing all the work. Don’t be afraid to bring other people to share your love and passion. Building a good team around you takes time and you can’t do everything on your own. Working in the community isn’t for sole traders! Even if you can’t afford a staff team - if people love what you do, invite them in to volunteer.

There have been so many individual highlights over the years including winning the Youth Link and Young Scot Awards but for me the main highlight has been spending time with the young volunteers who come through the project. When we go out to do live events, setting up stage and PA etc we always have such a blast doing it. A massive part of what we do is social engagement. We work together as a team and it’s great for volunteers to build new relationships sharing similar interests in the creative industry."

To contact Erskine music and media, email us on emm.studio@hotmail.co.uk

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