Nicola Euston: resilience

Transformers case study
During 2015 and the start of 2016 I was lucky enough to take part in the MA’s Transformers programme.

My project idea was to transform an underused part of The Atkinson in Southport into a commercial art gallery space.

The area in mind was our first floor corridor space that provides access to our exhibition galleries, theatre and studio.

Small exhibitions using objects and artwork from the collections had previously been displayed in this space but it was felt that it was not really working as a collections space and could be better utilised and could generate income.

The Atkinson had recently been through yet another restructure following council budget cuts and sadly more staff had been made redundant so the need to generate our own income was becoming painfully clear.

I was initially reluctant to apply for a place on the programme as I have a little girl who was only a toddler at the time and I didn’t like the thought of leaving her for a couple of nights as part of the residential aspect of the programme.

My line manager really encouraged me to apply for it though and I can honestly say that I am so glad that I did as the whole experience was amazing and so beneficial not just to me but to The Atkinson.

Through Transformers I felt that I grew in confidence and it enabled me to step outside of my comfort zone and try new ideas as I knew that I had the support of my peers and also Jess Turtle and Hilary Carty who ran the programme.

Transformers helped me to think about the ways I work and how I handle situations and how I could employ different tactics to greater effect.

The new commercial gallery at The Atkinson, The Landing, launched on 5 February 2016 with an exhibition by local artist Derek Culley.

Since this opening exhibition we have had two more exhibitions by local artists and this year we will be displaying artwork for sale by four individual artists from the region as well as two art groups who represent regional artists in a variety of mediums.

We have recently been accepted onto the Own Art Scheme and are hoping that this will help generate more sales and further raise the profile of The Landing.

Unfortunately we know that we are not immune to further budget cuts but having The Landing helps us to become more self-sufficient while also raising the profile of local and regional artists, which was an important aim for us.

None of this would have been possible without Transformers and the micro-funding that I was able to apply for and the impact of this programme cannot be stressed enough.

I would encourage anyone who is currently thinking about applying for the programme to go for it as it is truly is transformational.

Nicola Euston is museum manager at The Atkinson in Southport