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11 December 2015

In Focus: CCA

The CCA is Glasgow's haven for radical, experimental and exceptional ideas. We spoke to Assistant Curator Ainslie Roddick about filling the space with art and life, and the joys of 'open source' programming...

© do-architecture

Like its home, the bustling, sleepless Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow’s Center for the Contemporary Arts (CCA) is what you make of it. Outside, the city’s most famous thoroughfare offers a myriad paths thought its day and nightlife - food outlets from across globe, music from r’n’b to noise. Inside the CCA their activity covers international and local contemporary art, naturally, but also a sprawling public programme of workshops, events and entertainment. By inviting the smaller organisation and the citizens of Glasgow shape the CCA a truly diverse range ideas and communities call 350 Sauchiehall Street home.

Whilst the CCA was set up in the 1993, the locale has been a landmark for Glasgow’s artistic activity for over 40 years, with ‘shrine to the avant garde’, The Third Eye Centre, being the preceding occupant. On Sauchiehall we see the beautiful, unassuming façade built by Alexander “Greek” Thompson, but the CCA actually knits together a 19th century villa, now on stilts in the middle of the café and a pool hall of the same era. Collectively the complex houses exhibition spaces, theatre spaces, a cinema, workshop spaces, the Saramago Café Bar and two independent bookshops.

Speaking to Assistant Curator Ainslee Roddick, it’s clear how committed the CCA is to running counter to the top-down methodologies other arts institutions may have taken to filling these invaluable venues.


“When it comes to programming ‘open source’ is our guiding philosophy, trying to use the building to its fullest, keeping it as busy as it possible can be. About 80% of what we do here is open source, probably more. People propose their events to us and we offer the space for free.”

For Ainslee the rewards of an open door are clear; “it means our audiences are really diverse. We are working with people who already have ideas and their own audiences along with them.” An average week in a colder than average December sees the CCA alive with accessible movement workshops from Indepen-dance; scran and stand-up from the Woodlands Community Garden’s Pop-Up-Café; readings organised by the Scottish Writers' Centre, to name just a few events out of roughly 800 a year.

In Ainslee’s words, the yearly curation of six exhibitions and twelve residencies the only part of the structure that “we kind of keep to ourselves.” Alongside head curator, Remco de Blaaji, Ainslee tries to make sure “were supporting local artists, whilst also following our outernational interests. As curators we’re very interested in Central and South America and the Caribbean. And Remco is in Indonesia now. Currently we’re also exploring places in the further north, Norway and Canada, focusing our research on the far north and far south, seeing what kind of works begin made there and what kind of dialogues we can create.”

With Glasgow art schools continuing to produce a steady stream of world-class talent, an intrepid approach to seeking out international artists, and an open source public programme, curatorial practice at the CCA places huge faith in the ability of creativity to foster connections and communities, be they global, intercultural or hyper-local. Arts institutions are continually wrangling with ‘diversity’ and the CCA seems less troubled. Perhaps open doors, open minds and a little wanderlust could do us all some good.

We asked Ainslie for a run through of the most interesting Glaswegian artists, those working with digital technology or exploring our digitally mediated world (hashtags by @UK_CE).

Christopher MacInnes

 #art #video #transhumanism #thenetwork #thebody 

Kathryn Elkin

#art #video #performance #translation #transcription 

Joe Howe #sounddesign #synth #audiovisual #skwee #MaxMSP


Charlotte Prodger #art #video #thenetwork #youtube #remix