RCS artists and innovators in semi-finals of top enterprise award Converge

RCS artists and innovators in semi-finals of top enterprise award Converge

Published: 10/06/2023

A sustainable set construction company that tackles the entertainment industry’s throwaway culture and a gender inclusive dance company that aims to reduce financial barriers to participation in the arts …  the RCS artists behind two innovative companies are in the running for a top creative enterprise award.

Production Arts and Design graduates Max Gabbott and Fergus Massie of Marmoset Construction and freelance dance artist Hayley Earlam, a student on the MEd Learning and Teaching in the Arts programme, are in the semi-finals of Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation and enterprise programme for the university sector.

Open to staff, students and recent graduates, Converge aims to empower the next generation of creators and groundbreakers, helping them turn their ideas into commercially viable businesses to improve lives, safeguard our planet and help Scotland’s economy thrive.

There are four challenge categories tailored to developing business across all sectors and stages of development. Marmoset and Hayley are in the running for the Create Change Challenge, which comes with a £30k top prize and two runner-up prizes of 10k. The final takes place in November.

Marmoset Construction

Bruce Millar Graduate Fellowship 2022 recipients Max Gabbott and Fergus Massey
Fgus Massie (left) and Max Gabbot

Forget scrapping sets and props from theatre productions, live events and films, woodworkers Max Gabbott and Fergus Massie are on a mission to work in a greener and more sustainable way.

Max and Fergus, who graduated from the BA Production Arts and Design degree programme in July 2022, are the duo behind Marmoset Construction, a Glasgow-based scenic construction company that creates sets from recycled materials and modifies existing set elements for reuse. 

Marmoset’s start-up costs were supported through the Bruce Millar Graduate Fellowship, an annual RCS award for new graduates of the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film (DDPF).

The Fellowship is an opportunity to launch a career or practice with an award of £10,000 for a creative project, performance, phase of research and development, or to launch a creative company.

Marmoset works with other environmentally responsible companies to source material and unused scenic elements to then build or modify existing set pieces.

Max said: “Our mission is to reduce the wasteful practices of their industry by offering an environmentally friendly alternative to existing construction methods.

“Marmoset provides a new way of creating sets by using recycled materials to build or modify existing scenic elements for the events, theatre and screen sectors. Not only is this method environmentally sustainable, but with material costs soaring, it is also more economically beneficial too.”

Read our feature on Marmoset Construction, recipients of the RCS Bruce Millar Graduate Fellowship 2022

Overdrive Dance Company

© Alex Innes

Dance artist Hayley Earlam is a co-director of Overdrive, which offers a safe environment for male-identifying young people to explore their creativity through dance and movement. Overdrive is inclusive of all gender identities including transgender, non-binary and cisgender whilst acknowledging all other gender identities. It’s for young people aged 12-25 and for those comfortable working in a male-focused environment.

Hayley moves between performance, facilitation and creation and has worked as a performer, teacher, choreographer, movement director and artists for dance and theatre companies around the world.

Lucy Wild, co-director, is an award-winning movement director, choreographer and facilitator who has worked for companies and arts venues throughout the UK and internationally.

Overdrive was granted the Creative Lives for Scotland Award in 2022.

Hayley said: “Overdrive offers a safe environment for male-identifying young people to explore their creativity through dance and movement. Through workshops, live performances and film, the company tackles the stigma of boys taking part in dance and aims to reduce financial barriers to participation in the arts.”

One hundred start-ups and spinouts will receive support to turn their ideas for products and services into reality as part of Converge’s 2023 programme.  Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Creative Scotland, all of Scotland’s universities, and a network of ten corporate partners, the programme is designed to springboard new businesses through intensive training, networking, one-to-one, generous equity-free cash prizes and expert advice from a roster of business and investment experts. 

Since launching in 2011, Converge has trained more than 600 academic entrepreneurs and supported the creation of more than 330 companies.

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Executive Director at Converge, said: “This year’s cohort proves that ideas and innovations are thriving in Scotland’s universities. Turning ideas into impact is at the core of Converge’s mission to unlock the potential of innovators, creatives, and aspiring business founders across Scotland’s universities. These are the people who have the potential to change the world for the better.”

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