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Cove Park: ‘The perfect place for artists and theatremakers to develop work’

The Artists Centre at Cove Park

Cove Park is an artists’ residency centre located in rural Scotland. For theatremakers, its new spaces provide the time, space and freedom to develop new work within an inspiring context away from urban distractions

Cove Park is a rural artists’ residency centre, just one hour from Glasgow on Scotland’s picturesque west coast. Its residencies support the development of new work by national and international artists, groups and organisations working across all art forms, including theatre.

Tom Morris, artistic director of Bristol Old Vic, has said that “every serious theatremaker will want to work at Cove Park”. Over the last 20 years, the centre has attracted more than 2,000 artists, from Booker and Turner Prize winners to those just emerging in their field.

In 2016, after the opening of its new Artists Centre, Cove Park began working year-round to host residencies for up to 12 people at any one time. The new spaces, designed for group work, movement and devising, have allowed more theatre and performance makers to experiment, devise, write and collaborate, away from the distractions and noise of domestic life and office hours.

One resident was theatremaker and writer Naomi Sheldon. In 2018, she came to Cove Park with support from new-writing company Paines Plough.

Reflecting on her time, she said: “Cove Park was a slice of much-needed peace and calm in what otherwise felt like an unmanageable and stressful time – a time in which I was supposed to be creative but couldn’t block out the noise. Paines Plough provided me with a bursary to work for a week at this extremely special place. This opportunity played a pivotal role in my career as a new playwright. I spent that week focused on new ideas for a play, which not only led to a commission from a West End venue, but also gave me the time to study the script for a film I then collaborated on.

“Removing the strain of money and hectic day-to-day distractions gave me the mental space to develop my ideas in a productive, peaceful environment that I very dearly needed. But it’s not only the space and time Cove Park offers that makes it so special, but the people. The staff gave me as much support as I needed, setting me up for a two-day session with a choreographer and suggesting walks and activities to help stimulate my mind.

“Meeting artists from other art forms and industries felt like an extremely supportive and nurturing environment in which to write. I can’t recommend Cove Park enough – the perfect place for anyone needing a peaceful place to develop their work. It’s a very special place.”

Cove Park sits on a 50-acre site overlooking Loch Long and the Firth of Clyde. Artists stay in a mixture of individually designed ‘cubes’ – converted shipping containers, or ‘pods’ – inside curved-roofed, oak-framed buildings. The fully accessible bedroom and studio adjoining the Artists Centre allows artists with mobility needs to undertake residencies. All the accommodation is en-suite, with a bed, desk and kitchen.

Cove Park is recognised as a Centre of Excellence and supported as one of Creative Scotland’s national portfolio of regularly funded organisations, as well as by trusts, foundations and individuals. Each summer, following an open call for applications, Cove Park hosts funded residencies for artists working in all art forms. At the same time, independently funded residencies are organised in partnership with individuals and organisations from across the world. In recent years these have included Fuel, Eileen Myles, National Theatre of Scotland, BBC Writers Room, Maria Fusco, Magnetic North and Janice Parker Projects.

Cove Park will broaden its reach with more national and international organisations. Plans for its 2020 programme, in celebration of Cove Park’s 20th anniversary, include residency fellowships, commissions and events. Sign up to its monthly newsletters to find out more.

As choreographer and dramaturg Luke Pell, who was a Jerwood resident in 2015, says: “All and any Cove Park time is beyond precious.”

To enquire about residencies at Cove Park, visit covepark.org

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