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|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&G....ie 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