This blog post has been written by Liam Templeton, alumni of the Blueprint100 Curatorial Team.
A few months ago Blueprint100 were invited to participate in an event organised by the National Youth Art Advisory Group (NYAAG) following the publication of their Culture & Connection document on the role of young people within the cultural landscape of Scotland.
This seemed like an ideal opportunity to present the work of Blueprint100 in the context of the themes outlined in the document. During this process of writing the presentation it became clear that Blueprint100 offers such a variety of activity that it eludes definition. Any such attempt to define Blueprint100’s core activities are therefore subject to interpretation.
What follows can therefore be thought of as my own personal interpretation of Blueprint100. This is based on my experience as both a member of the curatorial team and a regular participant of Blueprint100 events, as well as my aspirations and best intentions for what Blueprint100 might become.
Since recruiting a new curatorial team this interpretation might no longer be valid, though there are central tenets that I hope will be embodied in all Blueprint100 activity moving forward.
Fundamentally, Blueprint100 is a member led organisation, and therefore it is for the active members to define the purpose of Blueprint100 as they see fit.
In short, the aim of Blueprint100 is to provide a diverse program of events and opportunities to facilitate artistic growth and professional development for individuals under the age of 30 who are interested in pursuing a career in creative industry.
Most notably among the core activities of Blueprint100 are the weekly drop-in workshops, during which professional artists, makers and creative practitioners are invited to impart practical knowledge and insight based on their own experience for the benefit of the broader membership.
These act as taster sessions for participants, allowing them to familiarise themselves with a new skill or artistic medium and attain practical, hands-on experience and access to professional guidance on how they might continue to develop their newfound skill, if they so choose.
Members are also offered support in gaining proficiency in the more administrative side of the cultural sector, such as project planning, fundraising, book keeping and report writing, giving them the opportunity to equip themselves with the necessary skills and attributes to generate a steady income as a freelance creative practitioner.
In a similar vein, Blueprint100 regularly offer paid opportunities to its members, either in the form of commissions or a project lead fee in exchange for delivering a project of their own design. This provides opportunity for members to further develop and demonstrate their abilities while still benefiting from the structural support of Blueprint100.
Members are also often give the opportunity to showcase their work; either in the form of a static exhibition or a live performance. This provides opportunity for members to promote their creative output to a larger audience, often providing unique networking experiences and rewarding them with a sense of personal accomplishment.
Blueprint100 offer the opportunity for young people, who otherwise might not have the resources or personal mobility to do so themselves, to visit cultural institutions of national significance such as the V&A (Dundee) and National Galleries of Scotland (Edinburgh). This grants our members access to profound and inspiring experiences that are otherwise difficult to come by when living in a remote/rural location.
Another perk of Blueprint100 membership is the potential partnership opportunities with other, like-minded, organisations. Owing to the reputation of Blueprint100, members are granted immediate access to a professional network of cultural organisations and are afforded creative opportunities that might otherwise be difficult to negotiate when operating at an individual level.
All of these activities are intended to supplement, or even substitute a traditional/mainstream arts education and are generally accessible to anyone with even a vague interest in the cultural sector; no demonstrable artistic ability or preexisting creative practice is necessary.
Further, the vast majority of Blueprint100 activity is free to access for people under the age of 30, with very few exceptions, in which case the cost is still heavily subsidized thanks to the generous support of the funders.
Blueprint100 is a peer led organization, meaning that the program is largely influenced by member feedback. In this regard, the role as curator is less prescriptive and more administrative. Curatorship is therefore better defined as facilitation of the cultural activity the membership would like to see occurring in their own communities.
Further, the structure of Blueprint100 has changed such that curatorial team members will be restricted to a maximum term of one year. This ensures a greater degree of regularity in the availability of fixed-term contracts and represents a step towards greater equality of opportunity and the full democratisation of its organisational structure.