Starcatchers, Scotland’s national arts and early years organisation, has opened a new Baby Studio in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh, to offer free creative play sessions for families with babies and young children. The Baby Studio is the first of its kind in Scotland, and aims to provide a welcoming and stimulating environment for children from birth to five years old and their grown-ups.
A transformation of an empty shop unit
The Baby Studio is located in Westside Plaza, a shopping centre in the heart of Wester Hailes, a community that faces multiple challenges such as poverty, isolation and poor health outcomes. Starcatchers has been working in Wester Hailes since 2013, delivering its flagship project Expecting Something, which supports pregnant women and new parents under 25 to engage with the arts and bond with their babies.
Through its contact with local families and early years practitioners, Starcatchers identified a need for a dedicated space for creative play in the area, where people can connect, relax and have fun together. With the help of Outer Spaces, a charity that repurposes vacant commercial properties for artistic use, Starcatchers transformed an empty shop unit into the Baby Studio, a colourful and cosy space filled with toys, books, art materials and sensory objects.
A range of creative activities for families
The Baby Studio offers a variety of free activities for families with wee ones, such as:
- Starcatchers Saturdays: weekly drop-in sessions led by Starcatchers artists, who facilitate creative play and exploration with different themes and materials each week.
- Pop-up events: occasional events that showcase the work of Starcatchers and other artists, such as performances, exhibitions, workshops and festivals.
- Family workshops: sessions that invite families to learn new skills and express themselves through different art forms, such as music, dance, storytelling and visual arts.
The Baby Studio also welcomes visits from local early years settings, such as nurseries, playgroups and childminders, who can book the space for their own use or join in the Starcatchers activities.
A positive impact on children and families
The Baby Studio aims to have a positive impact on the lives of children and families in Wester Hailes, by providing them with opportunities to:
- Enjoy high-quality artistic experiences that stimulate their curiosity, imagination and creativity.
- Develop their confidence, communication and social skills through interacting with others.
- Enhance their wellbeing, mental health and resilience through having fun and expressing themselves.
- Access support, information and resources from Starcatchers and other local organisations.
Starcatchers believes that high-level art is for all ages, and that access to the arts can make a difference for children and families, especially those who face barriers and disadvantages. The Baby Studio is a manifestation of this vision, and a celebration of the potential and talent of the Wester Hailes community.