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WHALE Arts Agency

Facts & Figures

Organisation Name:WHALE Arts Agency
Area Served:Wester Hailes and surrounding communities
Population:around 12,000

When construction of Edinburgh’s Wester Hailes began in the late 1960’s,  poor planning, lack of service provision and sub-standard housing brought the community together in a series of campaigns.  While regeneration has meant that much of the initial housing stock, including 18 ‘high flats’, have been demolished, such significant physical changes impacted on the community’s social and cultural resiliance.  Initiated by local people in 1992, WHALE Arts has established itself as the cultural anchor organisation for Wester Hailes. A community-led arts charity and social enterprise, its mission is to be the creative heart of a vibrant, thriving community, a conduit between the community and creative opportunities through its programme of projects and events and by connecting the community with cultural partners, both in the city and nationally.

Legal Form:

Company Limited by Guarantee and Registered Charity 

Volunteers:5 regular volunteers
People Benefitting:2171
Staff:10 core staff (mostly part time), various associate artists and project staff.
Earned Income:

62% including an SLA with Edinburgh City Council


The purpose built WHALE Arts Centre.

Value of assets:Book value at time of construction was 1m but the land under the building is leased from City of Edinburgh Council.

Roots & Links


Established by local people in 1992 as part of the community regeneration process, in 2000 we moved in to the purpose built WHALE Arts Centre.

WHALE Arts provides access to supported, professionally led arts activities for enjoyment, skills development and growth of individuals and the community.


8 Directors (majority from local community and 25 active company members all from the local community)

Community Links:

Strong links with local people and organisations include:

Digital Sentinel – community (hyperlocal) newspaper

Local primary & secondary schools

Prospect Community Housing


South West Neighbourhood Partnership

Living Well Wester Hailes

Wester Hailes Community Council

Wester Hailes Health Agency

Wester Hailes and Sighthill Libraries

External Links:

Our diverse academic, creative, cultural, community sector and enterprise links include:

#artcore – a city wide youth art collaborative.

Edinburgh College

Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network

Edinburgh University/Edinburgh College of Art

Festival & King’s Theatres

Heriot Watt

Lyceum Theatre

Scottish Community Alliance

Voluntary Arts Scotland

Heriot Watt University


Physical Hub:

WHALE Arts Centre serves as a community hub for local people, supports formal and informal groups and provides office and meeting space to other local organisations.  It offers quality creative space to local people including a dark room, recording studio, performance space and exhibition space.  WHALE currently supports the development of the Digital Sentinel and online community newspaper produced by local citizen reporters.


Builds Local Capacity:

Through the operation of the WHALE Arts Centre as a community asset and the direct delivery of services, see below. 

WHALE also supports the development of new and existing local groups such as:


Artists Unlimited

The Arty Party

Community access to our IT facilities allows people to increase their digital skills and confidence.

Specific workshops on welfare reform/ access to benefits

Digital media training (including for Digital Sentinel ‘citizen reporters’)

WHALE is currently collaborating with local people, partner community organisations and public bodies to support the development of a new Wester Hailes Community Trust.

Delivers Services:

WHALE delivers a wide range of regular creative projects for all members of the community, we hold regular one off performances and creative community events.


Develops/Manages Property:

We are currently developing a range of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures for the WHALE Arts Centre.

Main Achievements:

Reaching and celebrating our 20th Anniversary in 2012.

Continuing to build on the success of the last 20 years!

What Next

Biggest Challenge:

Diversifying our income streams to become more sustainable.

Lessons Learned:

Never underestimate the power of creativity to empower communities and to promote wellbeing.  


To firmly establish WHALE as a sustainable anchor organisation at the heart of a creative and resilient community.  


Name:Allan Farmer
Address Line 1:WHALE Arts Centre
Address Line 2:30 Westburn Grove
Telephone:0131 458 3267
District:Edinburgh, City of