My name is Ross Colquhoun and I am the director and a co-founder of National Collective, the arts campaign for an independent Scotland.
We believe that art and creativity has immeasurable power to influence people, to inspire ideas and to motivate change. And we envision a scenario in which independence would bring a new cultural confidence to Scotland.
Professionally, I am a visual artist, graphic designer and sometimes photographer. Over the last five years I have worked in design for some of Scotland’s most recognisable companies – for three of those years I have been self-employed. I am an alumni of Edinburgh College of Art’s School of Visual Communication and in 2006 I co-founded Human Resources, an international source of creative inspiration. The website was once described by style-bible Dazed & Confused as one of the top arts and culture websites in the world.
National Collective is a growing group of talented artists and the creative thinkers. Starting in a bedroom, the project has evolved over the last year into a grassroots campaign with over 500 members and a monthly visitor count of over 40,000. We support independence because of the opportunity that comes with the ultimate creative act – creating a new nation. And we believe that to get there, we need to inspire and engage the Scottish people.
This historic Yes campaign needs creative thinking. We need a campaign where ideas can be discussed, where we can raise the level of debate and provide arguments that people can sink their teeth into. We need to go beyond talking to the converted, and convince the sceptical. To do that requires us to think about politics, and about Scotland, in a new way – find new ways to spread our message, and create art that inspires change.
By bringing together artists and creative thinkers we can achieve this.
The campaign for Scotland’s independence is also being muddied and distorted by a chaotic media narrative. The Scottish people deserve a debate that is clear, clean and comprehensive. We think one of the best ways we can contribute to this is through the design and promotion of posters and infographics. These have been used with enormous success by Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and we’ve been creating them since the very start of our own campaign for independence.
In addition to this, we have become a trusted source of information for young people about Scotland’s Referendum. By using art, music, popular culture, new technologies and grassroots organising we hope to mobilise young people in our country to participate in the Independence debate and register to vote.
Thanks to our talented and dedicated team of volunteers, National Collective has grown into one of the most exciting and effective online platforms for the independence message. But we need to raise our game even further and start campaigning in towns, cities, villages and rural areas across the country. To do that, we need your support.
Please consider donating whatever you can afford.
- We’ve published over 300 articles in 14 months and achieved one of the highest and most consistent rates of social sharing within the Yes campaign, taking the independence message to many undecided voters.
- Our infographics, posters and internet memes have been shared widely across the internet and appeared on walls and campaign stalls across the country.
- We’ve been delighted to welcome four of scotland’s top artists – Alan Bissett, Alex Boyd, Jenny Lindsay and Lou Hickey – as cultural ambassadors to help make our message heard on the national stage and in the creative community.
- We now have over 500 members from nearly every area of Scotland’s creative sector.
- Our members have found success through their own work on the frontlines of our creative campaign for a fairer, imaginative, independent scotland.
- In 2011 we launched Documenting Yes, a photography project capturing and archiving the historic Yes campaign for Scottish independence.
- And Scotland’s Referendum Guide, an infographic series that presents the referendum as a fork in the road – the choice between two different paths for our country.
- Thanks to the unstoppable humour of Greg Moodie and Ray McRobbie, we’ve launched satirical series like Tony Boaks Versus The Union and The Scottish Daily Scare to make it clear just how absurd some of the attacks on independence are.
- In the first week of February 2013 we reached 83,789 people on Facebook.
- In January we received 40,000+ visitors to our website. And on average we have received 30,000 visitors each month since September.
- We’ve been featured on the BBC and interviewed by Arte, a Franco-German TV network. That footage has since been since been shown in 10 different countries.
- Two months ago we launched @ScotVoices, a twitter account curated by a different Scot every week. In two weeks it reached 2,200 followers.
- Our followers are aged largely between 16-35.
We’ve managed all of this with no funding whatsoever. Everything we’ve paid for has come out of our own pockets. While we’re very proud to have got this far without running adverts, taking donations or receiving any financial support from the main campaign, we have come to the point were we require funding as we expand and need to spend more time on the project.
What We Need & What You Get
We are looking to raise at least £18,000 to help build a sustainable and effective creative campaign for an independent Scotland.
What We Need
- Social Media
- Promotional literature
- Studio space
- Exhibition space
What You Get
We don’t think you should help us out and get nothing in return – that’s why we have offered a range of rewards for your donation from the National Collective Store.
- Press launch of the arts campaign for Scottish independence
- Artists and creatives listening exercise
- Voter registration drive
- Campaign ideas
- An effective online platform encouraging ideas, creativity and debate, whilst supporting and promoting Scotland’s creativity
- National Collective ‘Roots’ (like ‘branches’, but bottom-up rather than top-down) in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, where members can get together on a regular basis to talk about independence and Scotland and collaborate on running the collective, workshops, creative projects and campaign activities.
- Plenty of projects and events aimed at encouraging creative engagement, including street art, graphic design, film, literature and music.
In addition to this we hope to be able to contribute the following to the Yes campaign:
- A travelling exhibition (pop-up) series of our members’ work in a range of diverse and creative locations.
- Online video forums and debates, which will be open to participation and available for live streaming or download.
- And more
What Our Members Say
Alex Aitchison (Illustrator & Photographer)
“To be an art student in the run up to the referendum allows me to contribute in my own way towards a more confident Scotland. 2014 will be the year I graduate. What better way to begin my professional career than as part of a growing, progressive creative industry in Scotland. National Collective is laying the groundwork for a new cultural landscape to emerge. Encouraging creative potential by bringing together a broad spectrum of artists, National Collective is engaging in Scotland’s constitutional debate in a fresh and positive manner that can only be good for the country.”
Kirsty Keatch (Musician)
“I am excited about how National Collective is encouraging the hopes and aspirations of creative Scots. Sometimes our dreams are impractical, but Scotland’s inventiveness, resourcefulness and creativity is a key to their realisation. I am fed up of negative and destructive attempts to play down Scotland through the media. Showcasing and encouraging Scotland’s contemporary art, music and talent makes a positive and crucial statement, building the confidence that is needed to take that leap of faith from indifference to independence.”
To win in 2014, we need to inspire and engage the Scottish public in a way that has never been seen before. The pro-independence message needs to be articulated in a professional, persuasive and accessable manner. This is not politics as usual. We need to establish a creative foundation to base a movement upon. After all, we are talking about the ultimate creative act: creating a new nation.
Too many Scots have been left disengaged and confused by the debate so far. We need to challenge, inform and persuade the public of our case: that with independence comes hope, opportunity and progress.
We can’t expect the mainstream media to do this for us. Thankfully, we don’t have to. Through an effective online presence and a sophisticated campaign on the ground, we can reach people directly.
We can continue to engage the artistic and creative community, ask them think about what an independent Scotland can mean for culture, the arts and wider society.
We can continue to bring the issues directly to those who aren’t interested in party politics, with young Scots in particular crying out for a message that they can relate to and which speaks to them.
We can continue to give a platform to unheard voices, and make sure that the debate is as broad and diverse as possible.
We can continue to work on new creative ways of convincing the sceptical and persuading the undecided. By using new media alongside in-depth research, we can tackle the big issues with the nuance and honesty that come from being a non-party political organisation.
And let’s not forget – we all should be having fun. This campaign can’t just be about trading soundbites or quoting statistics. We want the national movement to be progressive, inclusive and outward-looking.
For just a modest donation, you can help us in establishing a self-sustaining arts campaign that can support the wider Yes campaign.
Other Ways You Can Help
There are other ways to support us: share this appeal with anyone who might consider donating by using the buttons above. Like us on facebook and follow us on twitter to make sure you’re kept up to date with the campaign. Write, draw, paint, film, sing? Join National Collective and contribute to the creative campaign for independence.
What is National Collective?
National Collective is an open and non-party political group of artists and creatives, a campaign and a state of mind. If you believe the world has so much to gain from an independent Scotland, if you believe the opportunity of a new nation is too good to miss, if you believe imagination is key to creating a better society, and that self-determination and self-expression go hand-in-hand, you are National Collective.
Why do you need funding after 13 months without it?
It’s simply not sustainable. We’ve come this far due to the countless hours put in by our members (For 14 months I have donated around 20 hours each week), and we’ll continue to depend on our members to volunteer their time and effort. But we’ve reached a point where we need funding to realise our potential and pursue our objectives. With your help we can become an effective self-sustaining campaign.
£18,000 is our target and the figure we believe we can realistically raise from a public fundraiser. The more we raise the more effective our campaign will be. We may seek additional funding from elsewhere and run additional fundraisers on a project by project basis.
Are there any rules?
We can’t actually control where this money is donated from, but we ask that you keep any contributions from outside of Scotland below £500.
What happens if you do not reach your fundraising target?
If we do not meet our fundraising target, we will make use of the funds that are donated to us. However, failure to meet the target would mean that Indigogo will take 9% commission instead of 4%”
Is there a minimum donation?
Our minimum donation level is set at a £1 – this means that if 18,000 people donate £1 we will reach our target (and we will spend a number of months adding them to our donations wall…)
Please consider donating whatever you can afford to make sure we achieve our fundraising target.