A NEW free network for artists and creatives in West Dunbartonshire has been launched to help grow the artistic scene in the area.

Makers West is a new artist-led collective created to better support the creative community in West Dunbartonshire.

Over the next eight months the project will run networking events, training sessions and highlight the work of local artists and makers.

The project is led by a steering group composed of local social enterprises Lodestone Creative, Clifftop Projects and Frill Factory as well as independent artists Joseph Dalton, Nic Green and Peter McMaster.

Lottie Barker, the artistic director of Clifftop Projects, is part of the Makers West steering group – and says she can’t wait to get the project going with the other members.

She told the Reporter: “I think what is really great about it is that the steering group are all artists and we all work locally.

“The idea is that because we are part of the artistic scene we hopefully get to create exciting networking events and opportunities other artists want to see.”

Lottie says she is passionate to show other creatives what West Dunbartonshire has to offer budding artists - and professionals.

She said: “There is so much that this area offers for inspiration to get creative. The scenery is absolutely beautiful.”

The group is free to join for local artists whether you’re a musician, theatre maker, painter, crafter or photographer.

The project is funded by Creative Scotland’s Create:Networks Fund.

Makers West will connect creatives from across the county, helping them share resources and ideas as well as being a support network for one another.

Training will be delivered based on the needs of the artists that sign up and will include business planning, how to work across artistic disciplines, social media development, and more.

Lottie who lives in the Westcliff area of Dumbarton, and currently lets her creative imagination go wild from her office in her spare room, says she hopes the project will build a strong national network.

She said:”We will build this network in West Dunbartonshire, but hopefully we can share our ideas and get advice from other networks across Scotland.

“It is across artistic disciplines. No matter what art form you work in it is for everyone. Although your art form may be different, the challenges you are facing are quite similar.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us artists of West Dunbartonshire to find out more about what other people are creating, share our skills with one another and collaborate on future projects.

“Often working as a freelancer or small business can feel quite isolating so I hope that Makers West will be a supportive network that allows the fantastic artistic community of West Dunbartonshire to flourish even more.”

Their launch month is jam-packed with activities to inspire local artists of every level to join the network and showcase the creative talent.

Their first event, held on Friday, was a Facebook Live stream featuring Joseph Dalton, a visual artist based in Dumbarton.

Joseph took people on a walk up the Lang Crags hill overlooking Dumbarton to do some sketching to encourage people to explore nature.

Lottie will also be hosting an online “Clifftop Project Family Dance” party for people in Dumbarton and the Vale on Friday, July 31.

Free tickets to sign up and reserve your place can be found on Eventbrite.

There will also be networking meetings every other month, with the first two held on Zoom due to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

More information can be found on the Makers West website at www.makerswest.org, on Facebook at Makers West Scotland, and on Instagram at Makers West.