MANY is perhaps the most apt name for the organisation, reflective of not just its facilitation of 30 + affordable studios in Glasgow’s city centre - providing working space for artists, designers and architects - nor for its development of creative partnerships with other organisations in the city, events programme or residency mentoring scheme for recent graduates. In fact, from our meeting with Marc Cairns, projects director, MANY is most appropriate considered as a mindset for a working ethos. A small team of just 5 people, MANY is also home to The Telfer Gallery, a separate exhibition space situated amongst the studios, which Marc co-programmes. On top of that, the complex provides office space to multi-disciplinary creative initiative Pidgin Perfect, an organisation developed through a background in architecture. Categorisation is troublesome.
Is MANY one too many? The point at which an organisation determines its cap on what it can offer a community is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, one must consider whether it is more beneficial for an organisation to have limited targeted responsibilities, offering a less expansive public service, yet a more focused or specific role. On the other, the relatively recent phenomenon of having a vocal presence through social media has effectively increased the workload of the organisation or author, should they wish to participate. At its best this prolificacy and expansiveness of communication and engagement could be seen to reflect the infrastructure of current organisations that offer multiple means of entry and output.
Financial support from funding bodies or the council can have an impact on the direction of the organisation, and is an option some choose to steer clear from due to the implications of developing publicly-engaged initiatives beyond the impetus for starting a project in the first place. MANY does not receive said funding, and is not registered as a charity. It’s a business. “…we’ve never been funded, and I’m actually quite proud of that, and I know that we can operate as a business without it”. The clear-sighted projection of MANY as a business model is refreshing; an architect’s conviction perhaps. “The studios scrub their own back…which is why if we’re at 50% capacity, we’re at a more dangerous position than if we’re at 100% capacity.”