Creative community invests in emerging visual art graduates

Applicants have until the Saturday 6 March to apply to be part of a new graduate development programme, developed by the University of the Highlands and Islands and artist-run Circus Artspace.

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Circus Artspace professional practice workshop in 2019 with BA (Hons) Contemporary Art and Practice students from Inverness College UHI and Perth College UHI, and BA (Hons) Fine Art students from Moray College UHI at Inverness Creative Academy.

The initiative is open to all visual art graduates based in the Highlands and Islands as well as University of the Highlands and Islands alumni in Moray and Perthshire.  

The ten month programme, called ‘Circus Graduates Associates’ and starting in March, plans to use a blend of online teaching and face-to-face sessions, supported by practitioners working in the creative sector to teach its first cohort of thirty students. The delivery strategy draws on the university’s strength and experience of using a blended learning approach to engage and support students, to develop their independence and equip them with the skills needed to thrive.

The initiative is supported by XpoNorthCreative Scotland and the University of the Highlands and Islands Knowledge Exchange challenge fund. This industry backing has helped to make the programme financially accessible, with those selected to join being asked to pay a one-off fee of £30 to secure and confirm their place. 

Speaking about this exciting collaborative programme, Circus Artspace Co-Founder, Kirsten Body said:

“We established Circus Artspace as an artist-run initiative in 2019 with graduate support at its core. Through this new programme we want to mentor the next generation of artists based in our region by bridging the gap for recent graduates between their visual art training and a freelance career within the sector.

“We are delighted to continue our relationship with university partnership and hope to broaden the programme's reach thanks to support from our industry partners. Our aim for this first cohort is to build a supportive community of practice in the face of COVID-19 and increased isolation as well as open up new opportunities for recent graduates across the region."

Rachel Fermi, Programme Leader (joint) of the BA (Hons) art and contemporary practice at the University of the Highlands and Islands added:

“This is a forward-thinking partnership with Circus Artspace which will allow us to continue to support our visual art graduates and help them navigate their career pathways during these uncertain times. We wanted to be part of creating a space that enables our graduates to grow their connections both in the Highlands and beyond, collaborate with others and tap into real-life experience to further develop and come out of the current COVID-19 environment with a sustainable future”.

Iain Hamilton, Head of Creative Industries of Highlands and Islands Enterprise said:

“We are fortunate to have so many talented artists in the region, and this is a fantastic opportunity for them to make sure that they have the skills they need to make a career out of their talents.  It is really important to the region as this is where culture and business meet, and so is going to be hugely important in how the Highlands and Islands is going to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To apply or find out more information please visit or contact