Microclusters Participants (1)



Hello, my name is Kirsten Millar, an artist living and working on the West Coast who has recently graduated, completed a postgraduate in Contemporary Art Practice from Edinburgh College of Art and started a role as a Modern Apprentice for CHARTS.  I will be working with Dr Michael Pierre Johnson over the following months to share and engage members with the final outcomes of CHARTS Microcluster Networks project and will be undertaking this work for CHARTS as an extension of my Digital Marketing Modern Apprenticeship in conjunction with Museum and Galleries Scotland.

What are Place Makers: Microcluster Networks?

Since March 2020 CHARTS has been working closely with Dr Michael Pierre Johnson from The Innovation School at Glasgow School of Art to research the impacts of creative collaborations in Argyll and Bute. The research project, Microcluster Networks Argyll and Isles, focused on providing bespoke development support through one-to-one sessions, webinars and workshops for organisations and individuals across the region. Microcluster Networks was guided and supported by the members of CHARTS regional Steering Group and offered our members paid opportunities, expert inputs and facilitated creative conversations. The project also provided recommendations of how CHARTS can implement these practices in the future to continue benefiting members.  

While the research partnership between CHARTS and GSA has now concluded, a final event showcasing the three creative placemaking projects and groups, Take Flight SO:AR (Jura), Dunoon Goes Pop (Dunoon) and Creative Eco Clusters (Oban) is now live along with a full report. Coinciding with the final event, CHARTS has also been building an archive of resources accessible through our resource page, showing the wider process of Microcluster Networks.

What did we learn about Enterprise and Enquiry driven members - and what does this mean?

One of the key learnings from the report came from the 32 one-to-one mapping sessions Michael delivered for members, lasting on average 2.5 hours each. This asked participants to frame what future development meant for them (based on Michael’s creative growth model), which revealed a distinction between Enquiry-driven members and Enterprise-driven members. 

Image showing the creative growth model used in the mapping sessions

Enterprise-driven members seek to sustain and grow an economic entity, such as building brand profiles or finding new customers for arts, crafts and cultural products, services or experiences. 

Enquiry-driven members (like myself) seek to develop and sustain their creative practice in relation to wider social or cultural contexts, such as engaging with archives, linking up with heritage organisations or creatively exchanging with other CHARTS members. 

Through the project, we were able to better understand the different needs and assets of our members and how deeply related to ‘place’ these were for many of them. One of the recommendations from the report is for CHARTS to continue to focus on how we can meaningfully engage and support both member types, identify their skill sets and skill gaps. By bringing both enquiry and enterprise-driven members together, CHARTS will continue to build opportunities for collaboration that support both individual members and enable places/communities to thrive. 

 What is the future of Microcluster Networks?

What was designed to be a one-year research project has expanded, due to feedback CHARTS received and the large quantity of rich data and successful outcomes. We are now happy to announce that Michael will be staying with us offering his research insight as one of our new board members. Running up to the end of 2021, I will be working alongside Michael and the CHARTS staff team to look at how we can further assist members to build on the outcomes of Microcluster Networks, to create stronger networking opportunities and leadership skills for our members.


There is much work to be done and an exciting journey ahead, so watch this space as we continue to share insights and resources that will be valuable for you.

Keep your eyes on our news and socials for the next update. 

Till next time,


Thanks to CHARTS Steering group for all their help, as this project would not have been possible without their guidance.