Centre for Contemporary Arts (Common Ground)

Image for Centre for Contemporary Arts (Common Ground)
Lead Organisation:
Centre for Contemporary Arts
Award Amount:

We applied for this grant to enable us to improve refugees’ access, engagement and enjoyment of the arts.

Our project’s approach was to provide participants with the immediate need of computers and then through conversations, build trust, introduce them to CCA and tailor activities around their interests. We understand it is a learning process for us as an organisation, and we are interested in how we can learn to work with different communities and might change as a result.

New Scots reached

Key Information

Our project aimed to:

  • Increase awareness of participants new environments, increase their social interactions & improve connections.
  • Decrease social isolation and loneliness and improve mental wellbeing through these connections.
  • Increase access to arts/culture and allow for a better understanding of opportunities to be involved in the arts.
  • Increase participation in arts/culture. Increase opportunities for creative expression.

Key Information


Beats Without Borders, Africa in Motion

Geographical reach



01/09/2021 – 01/10/2022

Target Groups

Refugees and asylum claimants

Project Type

Supporting innovation


We have had discussions with the Refugee Network and Refuweegee and we know the first stage of our work addresses some of the most urgent issues for that community: a safe, relaxed space and wifi and computer access with facilitation for basic computer skills in multiple languages. It is a simpler project than our previous public engagement programme but one that quickly addresses an urgent need and allows us to develop these relationships in the longer term.

CCA has previously worked with Govan Community Project on public engagement projects, and their service users provided feedback that they felt their understanding and engagement of the arts in Glasgow was extremely limited and identified it as a learning need. It is our experience that asylum seekers and refugees are some of the least engaged and underrepresented demographics within the arts. As a key arts organisation within Glasgow, we have the opportunity, with additional funding to deepen this relationship, to introduce participants to CCA and in turn, reduce barriers that limit access to the arts.

Involvement of New Scots in project

Refugee participants were central to the shaping of the project. The community consultation and collective discussion sessions were designed to offer opportunities for New Scots to share their insights, ideas and feedback. We were aware of who was attending these sessions and ensuring a diverse group of people were participating to widen perspectives as well as offering other modes of feedback such as informal discussions, interviews, feedback forms etc. In terms of delivery of activities, refugees were at the forefront of all activities, sessions and events, taking a leading role in the organisation and implementation of activities with support from Common Ground team.

We have also formed a steering group from active participants, who played key roles in developing the project as well as facilitating conversations with and between New Scots. The group worked alongside the Project Manager to review the progress of the project and offer insight into the most effective ways to engage more people and the kinds of activities relevant to New Scots. This work with the steering group was incredibly valuable and we have set plans to continue this.


The project has brought about the changes we expected, particularly the facilitation of a space where trust could be established, where we could listen to refugee communities and refugee-led groups and shape our activities based on this mutual dialogue. We have created a well-known and popular social space in a long-standing arts organisation, bringing different people and groups together. Common Ground is now building on this foundation of connectivity and developing a more sustained impact for refugee communities within the arts.

It has also spotlighted our longer-term goal of establishing a space for exploration and experimentation of creative potential and collaborative practices for individuals and groups. Crucially, it has also brought about wider changes to CCA, particularly widening knowledge on ways to work with New Scots in the arts and specific considerations of accessibility, engagement, communication and approach.

The project has also contributed to developing partners understanding of the specific barriers to integration New Scots experience.

Challenges encountered

The challenges faced during the project are related to the wider challenges of asylum and refugee issues, such as financial, social isolation and insecure accommodation for our target groups. Working with people resident in temporary accommodation has meant we are working with a shifting population who have a variety of complex needs and support. These challenges have not led to a deviation from the original plan but has required an ongoing navigation of issues which necessitate an up-to-date, well informed awareness of surrounding issues and the capability to respond adequately.


This project has been invaluable for CCA in gaining a greater understanding of barriers to New Scots integration in the arts, not only of access but wider engagement and participation. It has spotlighted the value of community consultations and the importance of increasing decision making and participant autonomy for refugee integration. Through this project, we have seen the necessity of situating New Scots and those with lived experience at the core of the shaping Common Ground and its activities. We have also seen the potential of autonomous approach in terms of the creative direction the project has taken and also the diverse groups who have attended and continue to attend the space.

One of the most prominent learnings we hope to share from this project is the importance of peer to peer led activities and the regular, ongoing consultation with refugee communities. The most knowledgeable people to provide insight on working with New Scots, is New Scots themselves. This approach has ensured Common Ground as an open and welcoming space and it is also reflected in the maintained high levels of participation throughout the project cycle and the heightened interest on what comes next.

Project Partners