Back in late 2020, we interviewed Aberdeen creative and podcaster Ica Headlam. He had just established We Are Here Scotland, a creative fund designed to practically support creative people of colour (POC) throughout Scotland.

Nearly a year later, having achieved funding through a successful GoFundMe campaign, We Are Here Scotland are just about to close applications for their first round of funding of creatives. We wanted to chat to Ica further about We Are Here Scotland. We wanted to know the background behind the fund, some of the challenges he has faced, and what he can offer creative people of colour. As always, Ica was keen to share his experience.


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What is We Are Here Scotland?

Tell us a little about We Are Here Scotland. How did the idea came about and develop into a real life fund?

The idea for We Are Here Scotland came from my experiences of presenting Creative Me Podcast. And also, of course, being a person of colour here in the north east of Scotland.

Being born in the early 1980’s I’ve always recognised the importance of representation. However I didn’t see much of that in Scotland across the artistic and creative industries. I wanted to create something that not only allowed for there to be recognition of black and POC artists and creatives, but also as a means of supporting the community in practical ways too. This is where the Creator’s Fund comes into play.

I had numerous private conversations and a number of Instagram Live events. After that it became very clear to me that many people in the community needed help. Both in terms of funding and practical support. However, getting this from larger organisations always seemed like such a daunting and monumental task.

Bearing that in mind, I felt that there should be a fund that not only made it easier for people to apply for, but also provided some follow through in terms of practical support via mentoring and guidance from industry professionals to help those who are awarded funding.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in launching the fund?
Well we launched the fund in mid-November last year whilst still in the pandemic. Given the climate it was a slow burn, however we eventually reached our target of £6000 in June this year. Recently that amount has grown to £7,490. This has allowed us to support more black and POC artists and creatives across Scotland.

What advice would you give to creatives of colour starting out just now? In particular, advice about raising funding and dealing with the challenges that their industry may throw their way?

With regards to funding, I think it’s important to explore all the viable options available to you as a creative. It’s about finding out what opportunities are happening in your local community as well. For example, does your local authority have funding opportunities for creatives? Is your local art space/gallery looking to commission artists etc?

In terms of the challenges you may encounter? For me I always find that it’s important to have a good support network around you. This industry isn’t easy to navigate. Over the past year I’ve heard from people in my community who have had horrible experiences within Scotland. So, I would say it’s also important to hold people accountable. We can’t minimise problematic attitudes and behaviours in the hope that it’ll all be forgotten about. Especially in the current climate.

Systemic misrepresentation in the arts

Do you think there’s a genuine willingness within Scotland’s creative industries to actually stamp out their systemic representation problems once and for all?

Well I’d like to think so. But the past year has shown me that within Scotland’s creative industries the conversation of representation and systematic change can easily turn into a tick box exercise. It’s becoming on trend now for some predominantly white led businesses and organisations to be seen to be amplifying black and POC voices. The thinking is in doing this, organisations show evidence to potential funders that they are actively engaged with supporting the community.

In all honesty I do think that some people prefer the status quo of things. Some people don’t want to be challenged. They don’t want to reflect on certain issues that requires them to actively engage in meaningful conversations or progressive thought.

Is there anything people working in creative industries can do to pressure their organisation to be better?

I think people need to be more vocal about the systemic issues within the creative industries. However, it shouldn’t just be black and POC doing this all the time.

I think we have gotten into this mindset in society that if it doesn’t personally impact on you or your mental health then do you really need to say anything. Yes ,you absolutely do need to challenge and hold people accountable especially in this industry. People need to ask important questions within their organisations. Ask about meaningful representation and what that can look like for marginalised groups.

Who in benefiting?

Who are some of the creatives that you have helped? Tell us a little about them and the work they do.

When I first started We Are Here Scotland. I used to do a lot of Instagram story shout outs. We’ve given this a little more structure with a spotlight feature on our website. This feature will introduce people to a number of talented artists and creatives across Scotland. The first artist in our spotlight is the acclaimed Scottish-Caribbean poet and performer Courtney Stoddart. You can check out her interview here.

What are your future plans for WAHS?

We have a number of projects that I’m really excited about beyond the Creator’s Fund. Hopefully we’ll be in a position to secure funding to develop these projects. We ant to provide more opportunities for black and POC artists and creatives in Scotland.

The Creator’s Fund is still live until Sunday 31st October at 11:59pm you can apply for the fund here: https://www.weareherescotland.com/creators-fund


Thank you so much to Ica for again taking time to talk to us. He has a special ability to focus on his project and achieve his lofty goals. That has always been an inspiration to us here at POST, so it’s great to catch up with him again.

We Are Here Scotland | Find Out More

You can fine We Are Here Scotland at a number of places around the web. Please go follow them to stay up-to-date on their progress.

We Are Here Scotland | website | Twitter | Instagram

We also very much enjoyed this episode of Just a Chat With…Ica Headlam