Livingston Art Association was formed in 1970 by a number of local artists who wished to have a studio to meet up in and paint together. They were given the stables of Howden House by the then Livingston Development Corporation. Not long after this the LDC decided to make the back of the stables into a theatre (now the Mews Theatre) and Conference Centre, and the LAA were asked if they would be willing to hand the stables over to LDC on the understanding that the LDC would renovate the stables into a gallery and studio for LAA. In return they would rent the studio out to the LAA for a nominal rent. LAA agreed to this and Studio ‘H’ was born. The former stable block of the house was converted into an arts centre, which was first opened as Howden Park Centre in 1972, by actor Andrew Cruickshank. In 2009 the centre was extensively refurbished including a new art studio and a pottery studio with a new kiln.
The first exhibition was held in the centre in May/June of 1971; one has been held at the same time every year since. The opening of the exhibition has been presided over by many people over the years and some have been so impressed by the ongoing enthusiasm of the club that they have presented cups and plaques which are awarded each year to a wide variety of artists and potters covering many different styles of art and design. We have even had a visit from Her Majesty The Queen who did express how impressed she was with the skill and diversity of paintings displayed. In 1979/80, after buying a second hand kiln, the pottery and ceramic section was opened, this section has now become a very important part of art in Livingston.
In November 2017 LAA made the difficult decision to move its art classes to Mid Calder Institute Hall. This was to make large savings in increasing studio rent. Pottery classes remained at Howden Park Centre.
Howden House itself has recently been completely refurbished and made into apartments, has a close association to the arts, having been the home at one time of the Rev. James White. Nearby his sister Charlotte lived at Charlesfield with her husband Henry Raeburn, son of the famous Scottish painter, Sir Henry Raeburn.