Our Survey Results

Dark purple brick background with pink line and bar graph overlay. Vivid Roots Collective logo in foreground (purple circle with a line cutting across horizontally. Above the purple 'earth' line is a green sapling shape, below the purple 'earth' line are green roots shapes).

Read the full report here (this will direct you to the VRC Survey 1 on our website)

VRC Survey 1 was the first market research survey that we shared as Vivid Roots Collective. It allowed us to reach out to our new target market and assess the needs of local emerging artists. This was a very limited survey – reaching only 20 respondents – but it did: make us reflect on our business plan; reinforce the need for VRC to operate; and reflected the findings from Framework Theatre Company’s Building a Framework Survey. (Click here to be directed to the Our Publications page on the Framework website where you can access the report). In this short blog post, I would like to share some of the key insights we gleaned from this report with a focus on how VRC will respond to them.

About Our Respondents:

We reached a broad age range: from 21 to 70. All of the young people (under 25s) who answered the survey identified as emerging artists but we also had a respondent in their 40s who identifies as emerging, and some respondents over 50 who were unsure.

We had a good geographical spread of the Highland areas though 55% of respondents were based in Inverness. We even reached those outwith the Highlands.

The ratio of gender identity between male and female was mostly even across the board with one respondent who identifies and non-binary.

Due to an oversight by us, we failed to ask about ethnic/national identity which is a failure that we will correct in future, especially due to the stark underrepresentation of POC in the Highlands (see full report for reference).

Key Points:

On ’emerging artist’: there was a good variety of responses describing ’emerging artist’. These are outlined in the full survey, but no response was the same. We grouped these into themes but some defined emergence as coming out of education, others as skills development, others as still looking for paid work.

On the Highlands: The most common response when asked if they would like to remain in / move to the Highlands was ‘yes’ though almost all respondents cited reasons why remaining in the Highlands to practice art is challenging.

On opportunities: By far, the most common response when we asked what opportunities they could identify in the Highlands was ‘none’. Eden Court, residencies, and the University of the Highlands and Islands drama degree were other more common responses.

On future opportunities: Funding and paid work, opportunities to create new work, opportunities to collaborate, and more local theatre companies were the top responses when asked what opportunities they would like to see in the Highlands.

On the scope of the survey: Analysing the data from the survey and collating this into a report was a fairly large task and, upon reflection, we decided that analysing the responses to Highland Arts and Culture generally was beyond the scope of our resources. The issues with Highland Arts and Culture were generally reflected in previous answers about barriers and opportunities though there were also comments about central belt bias and a Highlands monoculture which focuses on the romanticised tourist-friendly version of Highland life. We have still included the responses in our full survey report but they have been left out of the conclusion and recommendations. Perhaps this is something to which we will return in the future.

Our Recommendations:
  • Focus groups: We will begin to set up focus groups to gather more targeted and nuanced responses to our business plan.
  • Protected characteristics: We will be more careful about recognising, celebrating, and striving to improve the diversity of Highland Arts. This starts by identifying our demographic reach. 
  • ‘emergence’ as a matter of identity: We will decidedly leave the interpretation of emergence down to the individual to decide and will assess conflicts on a case-by-case basis. 
  • A network: We will continue to develop plans for a local and national network of organisations and artists. 
  • Travel: We will create a plan to reach rural areas without an expectation that they will travel to Inverness for work. We will offer travel reimbursements, work online, and travel to these areas where possible.
  • Paid work: We will maintain our ethos of fair pay for artists and do our best to remain current on national and international trends. 
  • Facilitating new work: We will bring our plans to facilitate the development of work by local artists to the fore and begin work on this strand of the company now. 

Thank you for reading, and we look forward to sharing more news and reflections with you soon!

Published by Laura Walker

MRes postgrad at UHI; freelance director/practitioner; member of the NYAAG; co-founder and-director of Vivid Roots Collective. Here to make my mark on the creative industry in the Scottish Highlands.

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