SDX workshops to teach creatives the ‘art of business’

SDX founder Lynzi Leroy is aiming to give creative producers practical business knowledge. Picture: Mark K Jackson
SDX founder Lynzi Leroy is aiming to give creative producers practical business knowledge. Picture: Mark K Jackson
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Hundreds of artists and craftspeople are to be coached in business and marketing skills to help them make a living from their talents.

The Scottish Design Exchange (SDX), an Edinburgh-based social enterprise, will run a series of workshops at its Leith headquarters aimed at giving independent and creative producers “a commercial edge”.

The Art of Business series will be run by Mike Stevenson, chairman of SDX and MD of Leith-based Thinktastic, which offers strategic and management advice to organisations including RBS, Marks and Spencer, Axa and the Scottish Government.

Workshops are set to include guidance on finance, marketing, branding, product development, pricing, time management and wellbeing.

SDX plans to run the course in a newly converted space in the upper floor of its flagship Ocean Terminal store in Leith and intends to create an online learning experience to support artists based elsewhere.

The course is free for artists and designers who are part of SDX, while “a small charge” will be applied to non-members.

The group’s Leith store now has an annual £550,000 turnover and revenue at its second site, launched at Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries in September, is projected to hit £1.3 million for the year.

Founder Lynzi Leroy, a former manager for Shell in Kazakhstan, said: “Scotland has a wealth of artistic and creative talent but many of the people we work with are not particularly business-minded and it can be a real drawback.

“One of the things you don’t get at art school is business and marketing advice. It’s an area that is conspicuously missing from the curriculum.

“Students are so focused on their discipline and getting their degree they don’t give much thought to the fact that, after they graduate, they will, in all likelihood, be self-employed and will have to think about things like the cost of setting up in business and marketing their products.”

Stevenson added: “We feel that the current providers of business support can scare off many creative people.

“This is a gap we need to fill but it needs to be done with real constructive, concise, practical business skills.”