In the heart of Wester Hailes, a once-empty shopping unit is the brand-new space transformed by Starcatchers to deliver creative experiences for babies and their grown-ups in the community.
Starcatchers’ Baby Studio is the first of its kind; a local venue designed for and with babies and young children from birth to five years old, and their grown-ups. Sessions of artist-facilitated creative play are on offer every Saturday in the Baby Studio, and local families can access the activities by dropping in, free-of-charge with their little ones.
On Tuesday the 21st of November, the Minister for Children and Young People, Natalie Don MSP, will visit the Baby Studio along with two local Early Years settings, to see the space in action and hear from Starcatchers and the local Early Years practitioners about what this new space means for the area.
The launch of the Baby Studio comes almost a year after Starcatchers moved into the centre and follows community consultation to explore what local families need from the Arts and Early Years organisation. It comes at a time when the need for this kind of provision is strong. Starcatchers has placed itself at the heart of this community in an effort to deepen engagement with families and continue offering an early intervention provision in an artistic and creative setting.
Securing a unit in the local shopping centre, allows Starcatchers to reach the community in a targeted way, creating an equitable, accessible artistic experience. The opportunity was made possible by Outer Spaces, a national charity that takes on vacant commercial properties on a temporary basis to offer artists space to explore their practice.
Starcatchers’ work in Wester Hailes is led by two Early Years Artists, Kerry Cleland and Katy Wilson, who have been engaging Wester Hailes families for several years through the organisation’s flagship project, Expecting Something, delivered from the garden at WHALE Arts Agency.
Starcatchers’ work in Wester Hailes has resulted in close working relationships with healthcare services such as local GP practices, Health Visitors and Social Work departments. Through these professional links, families are referred to Starcatchers to access the creative experiences on offer. Starcatchers Saturdays is one such free provision, designed in response to families sharing feedback on the kind of activity they wish to see in their local area.
Chief Executive, Rhona Matheson says:
Starcatchers Saturdays is a weekly session that we have been delivering for around one year. We know the impact that access to the arts has on young lives, and the lives of their whole family. We see the evidence of this through the work we do across communities in Scotland. The Baby Studio is Starcatchers’ first dedicated venue. It places us in the heart of a community that is very important to us, in the position of being able to reach as many of the families and the babies in the community as possible. We want them to come to the Baby Studio and explore what our artists are creating for them there.
Lead Artist in Wester Hailes, Kerry Cleland, says:
Our approach at Starcatchers is to provide a truly baby and family led artistic experience. Families will get to know the artists who are creating new worlds in the Baby Studio for them to explore, and in turn, the artists can develop new ideas from learning about the interests of the children who visit the space. This is what makes Starcatchers special and our work so important. Where else can families access this kind of creative experience, with their baby at the centre of its design, in a non-judgemental and supportive environment? A ‘yes’ space, where the answer is never no, it’s always ‘yes’.
There will be a public Open Day to celebrate the Baby Studio launch on Thursday 23rd November from 1pm to 4pm. This is a drop-in experience, free of charge for the Wester Hailes community. To find out more visit: www.starcatchers.org.uk.