Scottish Parliament hosts Artlink Central to mark the charity's 25th Anniversary

With the support of Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford, local participatory arts agency Artlink Central, visited the Scottish Parliament last week to mount an exhibit for MSPs and staff.

Located in the Garden Foyer of the Scottish Parliament, Artlink Central’s photographic exhibit showcased their project work across the key areas of Arts and Young People, Arts and Health, Arts and Disability and Arts in Prisons.

Artlink Central is well-known for its work across the Forth Valley with people in prison, hospitals, schools and communities who face barriers to expressing themselves, to their health and wellbeing or to their learning. With the support of MSP for Stirling, Bruce Crawford, Artlink Central were able to take their message to the Scottish Parliament in a week when the Cross Party Group on Culture were aptly meeting to discuss a topic central to Artlink’s work- ‘Intrinsic right or expendable luxury?: the challenges and opportunities in securing cultural funding’ – and whether local authorities properly recognise the value of culture not just to the economy but to welfare reform and the health of the people of Scotland.

The finale to the three-day exhibition was an event hosted by Bruce Crawford MSP on Thursday evening, in the Members Restaurant, to celebrate the last 25 years of Artlink Central. Attended by MSPs from a range of constituencies, NHS Forth Valley Chairman Mr Alex Linkston, BBC Performing Arts Trust representative Ms Jacqueline MacKay and a host of artists, participants and local supporters the evening was a fitting tribute to the fine work that Artlink Central has delivered for the communities of Stirling Falkirk and Clackmannan over the past 25 years.

Celebrations included a fascinating and moving performance by Abrupt Encounters, Artlink Central’s group for adults with learning disabilities, which was conceived and choreographed by the group with renowned performance artist Alex Rigg. This site specific work was created in response to the Parliament by the company with support from the BBC Performing Arts Fund. The group is supported through The Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust and NHS Forth Valley.

Speakers included Bruce Crawford MSP, Dr Philip Gaskell (Artlink Board Member and local GP) and artist Rosas Mitchell who spoke eloquently on the role the arts can play in assisting people with Dementia.

Kevin Harrison, Director of Artlink Central said:

“The opportunity to celebrate the work of the organisation with our public and third sector partners, artists and collaborators as well as the people who benefit most from our work at the heart of Scottish government  was unmissable and we are delighted that so many MSPs and from near and far have engaged with the idea that participatory arts work can enhance and transform public services and spaces. Thanks so much to MSP Bruce Crawford for sponsoring our exhibition and to our funders for giving our Abrupt Encounters company  of artists with learning disabilities the chance to evolve their own artistic response to Scottish Parliament through live site specific work.”