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Build Hollywood

Build Hollywood

Build Hollywood


Through collaboration and conversation, The Edinburgh Collective have built a network for the capital’s creative community to thrive

Our latest partnership is with The Edinburgh Collective – an ‘open network of active creatives in Edinburgh setting new standards for the creative scene and industry’. It’s a buzzing network that was founded on a strong friendship between Nathaniel Cartier and Fraser MacDonald when they met in university halls. The idea sprouted through hearing constant mumurs of disbelief in Scotland’s capital having a decent creative and music scene. As the pair were in the creative community themself, creating the network came from a strong belief that Edinburgh could and should step out of the shadows to stand side by side with Glasgow. We spoke to one of the Creative Directors behind The Edinburgh Collective, Nathaniel Cartier.

“We’ve always said that we just want to help bring new momentum to the Edinburgh creatives. All we’re trying to do is make some fun things happen and bring in the local community with different artists to have a good time. That’s what life’s all about really”, he explains. Collaboration and support is at the heart of this creative network. “When I introduce people to The Edinburgh Collective, I just say ‘Yo, The Edinburgh Collective, all we do is just make cool shit happen.’ And very often, that gets the message across quite quickly.” 

For the partnership the collective have made their mark on a mural in the poster space led by their Art Director, Lauren Browne, presenting what they do best – creative collaboration. The mural will promote their summer Garden Party at the Pavillion Cafe, involving an artists’ market and live music. Over the course of the week, five local artists will each work on a panel on the mural, showcasing not only their annual Garden Party event, but exactly what the network is about. “It’s definitely something that Fraser has taken the lead in here. But I think setting new standards on all fronts of professionalism is important. Asking ourselves how can we help artists as an organisation and encouraging them to do what they love, providing them with opportunities to be the best artists they could possibly be.”


Words by Maeve Hannigan

Nathaniel Cartier, Fraser Macdonald, at the Scottish Arts Club, by Aidan Kennedy @aidantookthis

From sax battles in Cabaret Voltaire’s basement to Garden Parties on the meadows, the collective use local spaces to engage with local talent. In asking Nathaniel about the future of The Edinburgh Collective, it might not be known, but whether it’s a Collective Hub or a dedicated cafe space, one thing is certain – the sky’s the limit. “We haven’t got any type of space for artists’ residencies, but maybe in 10 years, we could have international Edinburgh Collective flats around the world and could send Edinburgh artists to Brazil for six months for an Edinburgh Collective residency abroad.”

As an idea between two best friends that has grown into a creative network in the capital, The Edinburgh Collective will be showcasing what the scene is all about. Through live performances, art installations and projections, and a chance to connect with fellow Edinburgh creatives, the partnership promotes which has long already been there – a creative community. One that Nathaniel insures is about, “helping artists through each step of the way so that they can flourish into the best artists they can be, and be their favourite version of themselves.”

Please could you both tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in creative industries? 

I am originally a musician, but I kind of just see myself as an artist. My background is in music, jazz, playing saxophone, playing the piano and singing. I moved to Edinburgh as an international student from Switzerland with a whole bag of music experience and onstage experience. My personal dream is to be an international Swiss performing artist. 

I’d actually say throughout my time in Edinburgh, The Edinburgh Collective has really inspired me and allowed me to grow like in no other place. I feel so incredibly lucky that I’ve been able to do that and that Fraser and I have met. It’s such a random universe thing where we just met in the first year of university. We both felt as if we’d repeatedly heard from loads of different people that the Edinburgh scene was dead. We knew loads of artists already in their first year and in our circles, doing music or other stuff. 

There seems to be some reality mismatch where the general public opinion is that the Edinburgh scene is somewhat lacking compared to Glasgow. How I like to describe it is that Glasgow’s creative scene is seen as like an almighty mothership of a creative scene around Scotland and England, and that’s super cool. All the people in Glasgow doing what they’re doing like that’s epic. The dynamic with that is that Edinburgh, especially in terms of a local music scene, very much lives in the shadow of Glasgow. Fraser and I just believe that there’s no reason why Edinburgh shouldn’t clearly stand side by side with Glasgow as these two incredibly creative cities. There are so many creatives in Edinburgh too.

What are your roles within The Edinburgh Collective? 

Fraser and I are both the creative directors, we founded the company, and I guess we planted the seeds of the mission and the vision of The Edinburgh Collective. There has always been momentum in the Edinburgh creative scene but you know, we wanted to bring a new splash of energy. From the start of our journey, that’s probably three years ago now, we’ve been very much chasing our inner child thinking ‘what if we do this?’; so let’s throw an event and get some of the cool artists we know together. The first event we ever did was in Bar 50 and since then, it has completely grown into new exciting proportions. 

Can you tell me about what the Edinburgh Collective does and how it came to be?

How it all started was that Fraser and I moved in together over the first year of university as we were in halls. I think we were discovering what was maybe needed and what we could do, or how we could bring value to the community. Then in our second year, we came up with the idea of becoming a collective. I’ll never forget it, we were in the first month of moving into a new flat, just us two, and we were like man, this is the Edinburgh Collective, right here. That was the Edinburgh Collective then and now it’s just grown so far beyond that. It’s really, really exciting. We just want to help artists basically.

What do you aim to achieve? Like, through your work? And where do you want it to go? 

I mean, if I’m gonna be completely honest, we don’t know where this is going to lead; what The Edinburgh Collective will look like, in 10 years or 20 years. I think what the mission of The Edinburgh Collective is to support local artists and help them with whatever they need, and that might be in the next two, three years, or it might be completely different in the next 10 years. We’ve been organising a lot of events and providing a lot of spaces to showcase artists. 

We really want to have an Edinburgh Collective Hub and a cafe space, which would also function as a venue location. It’s something I very much dream of making happen, but we do work best when artists come to us say, ‘I need this or I am lacking in this’. Then our immediate reaction is a mind explosion boom, at 1000 miles an hour. Asking ourselves: what are the random inner child ideas we can think of to help out an artist and provide opportunities to help them with whatever they need?

You mention on your Instagram that your mission is to ‘set new standards for creative communities’ – what do those standards involve?

I think something that’s standard at the moment for creative work, especially more on a grassroots level, is that it’s quite undervalued. That is a complete Nathaniel personal opinion. It might not be a widespread opinion, and I think it is coming from Switzerland actually. In Switzerland, if I am playing somewhere as a performer, I’m getting paid. There is that recognition of value, whereas here in Edinburgh and the UK, as an upcoming artist, it’s very hard to breach through the initial threshold getting paid gigs. 

There’s collaboration in terms of a new standard of creative communities at our events. We try and have Edinburgh performers on stage, have Edinburgh visual artists projecting something or painting something live, or displaying something in the space and getting a local videographer to film it. It’s like encouraging a mindset, and a mindset shift amongst artists to really not think about competition. If they actually just connected with each other,  it creates smiles and fun times for everyone.

And have you seen a cultural shift since you have started the collective? 

Definitely amongst our wider community of artists who have just started out. Even personally, when I started in Edinburgh, I had not released one song. Now four years later, I’ve gone on tour all around Scotland, and artists that we have at our events are growing in terms of their stage performance, and growing in terms of the projects they’re doing. 

I definitely feel a shift and I feel there’s a little buzz around new creative ideas with not just us but social enterprises. We’re reaching the stage as a company, where we are getting a lot of emails from people that have maybe heard about us or our we’ve heard about them. I think the creative industry is changing.

I would say inside the creative industries, a lot of the things are more purpose-led, especially on a grassroots level. We’ve have a huge wave of dedication, enthusiasm and positivity out the love for the arts in general. We’re pursuing that and just riding that wave and seeing it through every step of the way. 

You both have been involved in grassroots commitments and used your work to shine a light on aspiring creatives, what would be your advice for young creatives wanting to get involved with the collective? And what can they expect from it?

So there are two different types of creatives that we’ve started talking about. The first are artists who know they want to be an artist, and what they should do is come to our events and come and chat with us in person. I think that’s a big thing for Frazer and I. If people want to come and work as part of the dream team; managing events, helping with the vision and the continuation and growth of The Edinburgh Collective, then come to our events and say hello in person. Come and shake our hands and say what you like or what you don’t like about the events. 

My biggest takeaway in the past four years being in Edinburgh and on this journey is that no one is going to do anything for you ever. You have to take the initiative you have to start planning, you have to get the ideas going, you have to make your own momentum. Come to the events and make the effort to leave the house instead of watching Netflix.

What do you hope people take away from seeing the mural on the street? 

My personal wish is that I want people to look at the mural and think that it’s a really nice vibe. I think it should awaken the inner artists and awaken this little buzz around the Edinburgh Collective that something cool is happening. That something is being created here with this new flair around the collective and this new buzz that we’ve created will hopefully be carried onwards in a statement as part of the mural.

What inspires you to keep going with this project and keep building on the collective?

Love – it’s all about love. I think the community events are the most rewarding as a performer and as an attendee; being an audience member or being part of the dream team that helped make it happen. What really fuels it is getting a new email from someone saying we’re looking for some fringe opportunities or a new collaboration opportunity. This Build Hollywood partnership is so crazy. All of the credit has to go to Fraser, because it’s Fraser who has established this new partnership.

Just having a good time and chasing our inner child and thinking about what random, fun idea can we make happen next. We did a sax battle at Cabaret Voltaire. No one has ever heard of a live sax battle in Edinburgh before. I feel quite confident in saying that but maybe I’m wrong. But it’s creating moments like those that give us meaning in our lives – that’s what keeps us going. It’s the fun and connection with people and the community, and the process of creating a community. It’s not just about one person. It’s how can you create purpose around your art. Bringing people together helps us connect so that we all feel we’ve got meaning in our lives by doing some cool shit.

What does community mean to you and why is it important to connect and collaborate with local creatives? 

Community to me means bringing people together and standing together. I think it’s about people working together for a vision or for a dream, and giving each other appreciation. It’s being able to have meaningful connections with people. 

For me, it’s really an in-person community and in-person interaction – there’s nothing like it. We’re not coming as together as a community to be aggressive. We’re coming together as a community to appreciate each other and appreciate each other’s art and show each other love – to be here for one another. 

What is next for you both within the collective, do you have any upcoming projects or plans? 

So our upcoming projects include creating a dedicated Edinburgh Collective Hub and cafe space. We are currently working with LocalMotive Markets and that’s been an ongoing collaboration because they do a lot of markets. We also want to have cafe sessions and restart a new series of live videos showcasing Edinburgh artists or rekindle that. The Fringe is obviously such an international place and in a couple of conversations, I find myself saying that the Fringe is kind of a key to everything, even with The Edinburgh Collective. We really want to make The Fringe a strong employee over the next coming years. We want to increase our presence.

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