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Friday, October 28, 2011

After Dalbeattie....

Well that was that that then...The Arts Stakeholders Seminar in Dalbeattie was an energetic affair and (I felt) a credit to our sector. Everyone was up for the occasion and the task in hand was approached with commitment, skill and good humour. There were over 100 people in the Town Hall.

PLEASE USE THE COMMENTS SECTION AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST TO ADD YOUR OWN THOUGHTS ON TODAY - OR SEND US YOUR OWN LONGER TAKE ON THE EVENT AND WE'LL POST IT UP FOR YOU (bear in mind that the long comments will be rejected by Google - if you find you cannot post a long comment you may need to split it into two)

Coffee break at Dalbeattie Town Hall today

Often Council organised 'consultations' can be very top down affairs with Council officials presenting a mixture of paternalism and defensiveness. This was not how today panned out,  Justin Tracy kicked things off by recognising the background work done by the sector prior to the session and presented the Council as just one partner in the Arts in D& that this was not just about us asking for more money and them saying no - but rather the renegotiation of a working relationship that could see us all working together for the benefit of the region.

Cathy Agnew gave a barnstorming review of Art activity in the region before presenting a series of compelling arguments for the way that the arts should play a much wider role in the life of the region (eg Well-Being, Education, Tourism, Environment etc) rather just be considered a 'niche' pursuit for the already converted.

There followed a series of group discussion and ideas sessions to uncover common ground for how the Arts in D&G could organise itself, promote itself and represent itself at a national level...together with discussion of strengths/weaknesses and key things that are required for us to reach the potential we are capable of.

Industrious delegates cogitating on what the creative sector is.

Venu Dhupa (Creative Director - Creative Scotland) gave an account of the priorities her organisation has for D&G as:
- The arts as a means of developing talent in young people
- The Arts as a means of strenthening communities and sense of place
- Creative Scotland will support 'champions/advocates' emerging from the community/arts sector

Venu also announced that CS had ring fenced funding of £160,000 to support strategic initiatives in the the Arts in D&G (this in addition to individual project funds) and she clarified that CS considers the Gretna Landmark to be a 'national investment' rather than a regional one.

We finished up with a panel discussion on questions from the gathering and Richard Grieveson (DGC area manager for Leisure and Sport) gave a closing summary in which he gave a very positive response to the day and informed the meeting that the proceedings of the day would be written up and circulated.

Thanks to Sue Pirnie who kept everyone moving along to schedule - couldn't have been an easy job!

I was left with a sense we had all been there for the best of motives and not a little pride in being part of the Arts in D&G......the only downside for me was that there was not an immediate and inclusive way forward  - I would have liked a show of hands of who wanted to take things to the next stage and a date fixed there and then. There is a risk that the Council reverts to type and allows the momentum to wither away....but hey, partnerships are all about trust - lets wait and see what comes back from all this.

Posted by Matt Baker


  1. In relation to the Gretna investment; I have to say that I do not think that Venu meant that at all. She simply implied that the Gretna project was aside from the PLACE investment, but whether that project would be included in our regional investment reports at later stage, was not clear.

    Perhaps I misread this, but this was what the majority of people also took from this question, and its related answer

  2. I wasn't at the meeting so this is just a note of appreciation to The Commonty for posting an account of what happened in a nutshell

  3. Having asked the question, I thought Venu was pretty clear in her answer, that funding of the landmark would not impinge on the overall budget allocated to D&G, as it is a 'national' project. I suppose we have to watch out that we don't get handed the future maintenance costs, like grass cutting and shiny metal polish...

  4. I thought it was a very positive day and feel we must try and keep the momentum going. Maybe someone like Rebecca, who apparently did a lot of the organizing for yesterday, could send round a questionnaire for the interest in the 'next stage' ? Freida Dyson

  5. I was there, and thought it was a very positive day. I appreciate all the work that was put into it.
    Like Matt, I rather wish there had been a 'show of hands' or similar to clarify what comes next and when. What the day really showed was the strength of feeling in support of the arts in this region, and the will to be involved in taking work forward.
    Not that it'll be easy...

  6. Sincere apologies if I have misinterpreted Venu Dhupa's comments about Gretna. The line of questioning was around how Creative Scotland saw the Gretna landmark project in strategic relationship to the D+G (so that we might build on that in future project developments - eg environmental art?)...the response was that CS regarded this as a National project rather than having a particular strategic relationship to our region.

    The anonymous commenter who questioned my interpretation obviously has and in-depth understanding of the way Creative Scotland works - perhaps many of us are unaware of the layers significance here and how they might be reflected in the way CS accounts for it's investment in D+G?

    Any light you could throw on this for the rest of us would be greatly appreciated

  7. It was good to get us all together, and I only hope we do more of it. Made lots of new friends along the way, which can only be a good thing in this game.

    We wont always have the same idea's but I found the stuff about environmental art really interesting, Thanks to my table for educating me.

  8. My anxiety was around the limited funds - £160k from Creative Scotland, but no declaration from DGC, other than that former DgArts funds would be re-distributed. Will that deliver the kind of umbrella body that was talked abut?