Take a short walk down Kelvinhaugh Street from the heart of Finnieston towards the River Clyde and tucked at the end of a lane lined with railway arches is an unassuming building which happens to be home to what has become Glasgow’s leading contemporary arts and music venue.

The venue is SWG3 and it is the brainchild of Andrew Fleming-Brown, a man more commonly known as Mutley because his laugh is so reminiscent of Dick Dastardly’s cartoon sidekick.

A Glasgow School of Art graduate, in 2004 he chanced upon a space where he could put on art shows and support fellow artists by providing studio space.

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“It began as an opportunity with an empty building, an idea and some enthusiasm,” he says. “We took that opportunity and decided we weren’t going to leave.”

Mr Fleming-Brown set up the Clydeside Initiative for Arts charity having been inspired by visits to the MoMA PS1 in New York and La Friche in Marseille.

Until 2010, the venue on Eastvale Place did what it did, not widely known outside the arts community. He then raised the funds to buy the building, which in his words is when things really kicked off.

Through Creative Scotland funding and a brewer’s loan from Tennent’s, SWG3 – which at this point was still operating solely as a charity – was able to open a music venue on the first floor in a space it called The Warehouse.

In April 2015, a commercial business was incorporated, and two months, later fellow arts venue The Arches closed.

Mr Fleming-Brown is at pains to say the loss of the Arches had no bearing on the expansion plans.

“We don’t see ourselves as a similar business to the Arches,” he says. “Obviously there are similarities to some of the programming and some of the types of events, but we’d been established here for a number of years prior to them closing.

“We’d never been aligned with The Arches until they closed and suddenly two or three events moved to us and it was this feeling that it was the next Arches, which it’s not. Don’t get me wrong though, some of the events that have come here have helped the business grow.”

The development of the ground floor bar area, the TV Studio, came at a cost of £400,000, which was funded through a combination of bank funding, sponsorship and private investment by Andrew Mickel, a director at the family-owned housebuilder McTaggart & Mickel, and a good friend of Mr Fleming-Brown.

When SWG3 later acquired the site next door, which was formerly the Clydeside Galvanizers, the business went into partnership with Mr Mickel on the acquisition and operation of what is now known as The Yard.

SWG3’s main asset, says Mr Fleming-Brown is its space. The Yard is a 4,000 capacity outdoor space – which last summer played host to Mercury Prize-winning The XX and will welcome celebrated New York band, LCD Soundsystem next May, as part of a beefed up music programme.

With four venues for bands to play, the expansion has been welcomed by promoters. “Our strength is flexibility and a promoter being able to book a venue, but can move the show depending on ticket sales is good from their perspective, they don’t need the hassle of moving shows.”

On the ground floor, in addition to the TV Studio, the Galvanisers is a hall which plays host to charity and corporate events, such as the Entrepreneurial Scotland Awards, which took place last month. There is also the snug 50 square metre Poetry Club.

The first floor consists of the Warehouse, a space for art exhibitions, dinners and theatre. The second floor is home to the photo studio, design studio and artist studios, where architects, graphic designers, sign writers and other visual artists rent desk or studio space through the charity.

The venue is also home to a series of Hypermarket events, which will expanded in 2018. These vary from food markets to craft businesses selling their wares, and will revolve every month.

“We really wanted to bring a daytime programme to what is an established night-time venue. Also we’re an arts venue so we have artist at the forefront of our thinking, and the idea was to create a platform for them in a more relaxed environment than a showroom.”

The outdoor space, meanwhile, has also received funding from Abelio and Scottish Enterprise to create a safe space for graffiti artists to hone their skills.

The building is open seven days a week with more than 400 events taking place each year, ranging from “12 people doing a wine tasting to a 4,000 capacity gig”.

The complex logistics are pulled together by a team of more than 70 staff.

“We’re unique,” says Mr Fleming-Brown. “That whole warehouse culture has been booming in London for ten years but we don’t really have anything else like that in Glasgow. We want to talk about that.”

The work is far from complete, and even now, builders are on site, creating a new café bar and box office, which is scheduled to open in the next few weeks.

“[it will] kind of landmark SWG3 and really bring all our audiences and guests through one space,” says Mr Fleming-Brown.

Once that is complete work will focus on building the programme, which is welcome news for Scotland’s music fans as this will mean more outdoor concerts.

Beyond that, SWG3 has acquired land to the west of its site, which will become a green space, with growing areas, sculptures and a space for kids to play – something which as a new father, Mr Fleming-Brown is keen to see.

There is also a plan for larger businesses to become part of SWG3 through a deal with Network Rail, where the company takes on the lease of any of the dozen arches which become available on Eastvale Place.

This has resulted in two retailers opening shops, replacing the car mechanics who once lined the lane. The hope is that another four move in by April.

“For us it was always about having a bit more control of the arches. We’ve started to invest in them, so that retail could happen. It was something we always hoped would happen but didn’t know if it could,” he admits.

Along with a space selling art and arts materials in the café bar, it will create a retail centre, which in Mr Fleming-Brown’s words means the entire place will “flip purpose between day and night”.

Today the venue has a “good balance”, he says. “The arts programme thinned out while we were going through a period of heavy capital development. The spaces were getting moved around and it was quite a big commercial requirement to generate revenue to pay back borrowing.”

Now that much of the work has been completed, Mr Fleming-Brown says he is in a place where there are two clearly defined businesses at the venue.

“One is an arts organisation which provides affordable studio space, whether that is event or workspace, and the other is a commercial events company which delivers and manages venues,” he says.

The commercial side of the business grew revenue by 88 per cent in the first half of 2017, which helps subsidise the overheads of the charity.

Public funding also helps the charity while all resources, from staff to curation and administration work is undertaken by SWG3.

“The growth of SWG3 and the events company over the last two years has really helped the sustainability of the charity, so the two are in a very healthy position right now which has enabled us to invest capital into the new project, and attract bank funding and other sponsorship,” he says.

Mr Fleming-Brown estimates that £2.5m has been invested in developments since 2015.

“We’ve got consent for a restaurant on the roof which we have to sit on until the yard is developed,” he says. “There’s definitely scope to go up the way and after that we’re probably maxed out.”

With the seemingly constant expansion bound to come to an end soon, Mr Fleming-Brown will mark the beginning of another new chapter at the venue, and it is one he’s looking forward to.

“It will be nice to come in and just work on the programme and with artists, rather than builders,” he says.