In Summer 2019 Laura and Katie, Production Coordinators, hosted a ‘This Is Who We Are’ event talking about some of the ways that events, exhibitions and projects proposed by partners can become part of the Glasgow Women’s Library programme. Below you’ll find information on GWL’s work, especially in relation to events and exhibitions, and how to get involved. We hope this is helpful.
Who are GWL’s Production Coordinators?
Laura’s been at GWL since 2007, and in the role of Production Coordinator since our move to Bridgeton. Katie’s been at GWL since 2015 and they now share the Production Coordinator role. You can find out more about the whole team here. As Production Coordinators, they support the planning, development and production of events and exhibitions, so get to work directly with the whole team at GWL, as well as creatives (for example artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians) and partners (for example arts organisations, education institutions, museums, charities, publishers etc.) .
GWL’s Mission and Values
GWL’s work is rooted in our vision, mission and values to celebrate the lives and achievements of women, champion their historical, cultural and political contributions and act as a catalyst to eradicate the gender gap that contributes to widespread inequalities in Scotland. Our values are at the heart of everything that we do including our lending library, museum and archive collections, our events and exhibitions programmes, volunteering programme, and Adult Literacy & Numeracy support. These values are also embedded in how we plan for our future work through our Strategic Plan and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plans, and these plans and policies play a central role in how and when we work with partners.
GWL developed from a broad-based arts organisation called Women in Profile, which was set up in 1987. You can find out all about the history of GWL in this interactive timeline.
GWL’s Events Programmes
The difference 10 years makes! In 2009 our spring programme was 1 A4 page, double sided and in 2019 our programmes are 30+ page booklets.
You can download and view previous events programmes from our website, and from 2018 we include those programmes in large print format, and as audio downloads. Or you can search our events calendar to find out more about What’s On.
GWL’s programme includes ‘homegrown’ events and projects that GWL have created and nurtured (where we may approach partner organisations, or individual creatives). It also includes events and projects that began with the proposals based route for those outside GWL who have an idea or plan they would like to realise with us. This blog will look mostly at the proposals based route.
Have an idea for an event, project or exhibition?
We typically request that proposals come to us through our ‘Working With GWL’ process. Our ‘Working With GWL’ forms ask partners or individual creatives the practical questions about the proposal as well as how it chimes with our organisational aims, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion objectives, environmental policy, and collections.
Proposals come to us for everything from one-off events to large scale exhibitions or 3-year+ partnership projects. Depending upon the scale and complexity of the proposed partnership, the ‘Working With GWL’ proposal form can be completed in a detailed or a more light-touch way.
We typically include around 10 projects/events that come to us this way per season. We work on developing these in partnership at the same time as we work on all the other ‘homegrown’ events, exhibitions and projects created by GWL. The quantity of these formal (as well as more informal) proposals is continually increasing, meaning that we are having to make even more difficult decisions about what we can take forwards.
Some recent events or projects that began as a ‘Working With GWL’ proposal include: Home Where Home is Not exhibition and events programme, when we worked with the artists and another partner organisation Platform; Disruption is Fertile – How Ecofeminism is Rooting for Change working with Take One Action film festival; Into ‘The Dark Fantastic’ book event focusing on activism in children’s literature; and Legacies of the First World War 2-day conference.
The ‘Working With GWL’ form is a really useful starting point for us to begin discussing the ways that GWL can collaborate on an event or project. We are always pulling diverse perspectives from outside when working in partnerships and it is a pleasure to read the numerous proposals we receive.
The programming and production team read and consider all the proposals each season, and then bring questions and suggestions to the wider team at our Programme Planning meetings. Thereafter feedback is given to all who sent us their proposals and if taken forwards the planning often begins straight away!
We programme three seasons a year and generally plan around 6-8 months ahead for events or around a 18 months ahead for exhibitions. You can see the dates and deadlines on our Working With GWL proposal form page.
When it comes to deciding what we can take forward (and this is often a very difficult decision!) we have to take the following into consideration:
- GWL’s capacity and resourcing
- Themes and areas of continuing interest (i.e. Ecofeminism, LGBTQI+)
- How proposals fit with our EDI plan, environmental plan, our collections and values.
- What has been discussed in recent reflections meetings that we are beginning to implement or test.
It’s worth noting that exhibitions are one of the most pressured areas of programming for us at GWL as we tend to work on 6-8 exhibitions per year and only 4-6 of these come from partnership work. We receive many more exhibition proposals than we can take forward, and often our exhibitions spaces are already committed up to a year, or more, ahead.
Having an archive at the centre of our work means that we are tuned in to looking back to look forward – our reflection process is built in to our planning cycle. Our programming meetings involve the whole team here at GWL including staff and volunteers who would like to attend.
We find that proposals generally fall into one of the following:
- A funded project, where the partner leads on activities with GWL’s support and the partner can contribute towards some of the costs incurred by GWL, i.e. paying for room hire for the event.
- An unfunded event or project where the work is gifted and in turn GWL waive costs of room hire.
- A partnership where GWL is given funding to work closely on particular elements of the work, such as the recent First Waves project with Scarlett Crawford, Parliamentary Arts where GWL was given funding to employ a sessional worker to spend focused time engaging with women’s groups.
It is really helpful if when completing the Working With GWL proposal form you can spend time considering what resources and input you would like GWL to contribute to the project or event. When working in partnership we are always determined to work together to make things happen and to meet expectations.
What we can offer, and our limitations
GWL’s in kind support of all projects includes development and planning support, marketing support, administration and bookings support, as well as hands-on staffing support at the event from setting up to testing tech and welcoming visitors. Depending upon the nature of the project GWL’s in kind support can also include selecting relevant items from the collections, curatorial or programming input on the event, support with making connections with external organisations, research, expertise with developing access materials, etc.
We have an incredible team of 21, many of whom are part-time, working across administration, our collections, project work, work with learners, IT & Digital, venue hire and facilities, finance and management. Volunteers provide invaluable support and input in so many ways across the organisation. Sometimes sessional or freelance staff are required in addition to the team here, if that’s the case the project would need funding to support those costs.
Many large institutions have sound technicians, events staff, front of house staff, exhibitions technicians, invigilation teams, etc. while here GWL’s staff team support in these areas often alongside their core role (though we very rarely invigilate exhibitions). The ways in which each team member is involved across the work of the library is really valuable in supporting us all to have a holistic understanding of ongoing projects and our audiences, and also means visitors may get to meet anyone from the many amazing volunteers, to our Finance Worker, our Digital & Marketing Officer, or one of our Development Workers, for example, when they pop in or while they get set up for an event.
We don’t currently have a café or means to do catering although we do work with some great local or women-led caterers to provide food for events and we recommend veggie/vegan food in line with our environmental commitments.
We love our building and moving here is a huge part of why our programmes have expanded and we receive so many more proposals. There are still certain challenges that impact on our programming, such as light! We generally programme film events in evenings from October to February as our wonderful huge windows mean light levels are sunlight/weather dependent through much of the year.
We’re proud to be in a Grade B listed building, and this can impact how we use or change things within the space, for instance, protecting the wooden panelling and being thoughtful around how exhibitions are installed so as not to damage any of the protected fixtures and fittings.
All our spaces are multipurpose, and are also used for venue hires which is an essential part of our income generation enabling us to fund day to day running costs of the library. The multipurpose nature of spaces means that we try our best to be thoughtful around what happens when and where so that we can all work together and be sensitive and respectful of different activities happening at the same time.
We are firm believers in GWL’s values – including of course that we are all learners. We’re always learning from our work and partnerships that help us to think through alternative ways of doing things and to test out new ideas together.
If you would like to submit a ‘Working With GWL’ proposal for an event or project you imagine GWL as a partner for please go to the Work With GWL page – timelines and downloadable guidelines for how to complete the form are also available there. We really look forward to hearing from you and learning more about your ideas and plans!