(Scots Law) A common; a piece of land in which two or more persons have a common right.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Guess what…Creative Scotland

From Matt Baker
(A personal view at a particular moment in time)

Listening in to mutterings around the steamies of late I’m detecting a very different atmosphere in the rural regions to the vibe coming out of the Central Belt. In the regions, I’m hearing that artists are increasingly uneasy about others continuing to bang the drum of protest. The feeling seems to be that time is long overdue to start rebuilding and use the recent debate in a positive way to collaborate on a refreshed and relevant future for the arts in Scotland.

In D&G I am aware of an atmosphere of optimism and excitement about the arts that I cannot remember before in my 16 years here. If you examine the genesis of nearly all of the initiatives that are causing the excitement then the hand of Creative Scotland is never far away. Credit where credit is due…..something is going right between our region and our national arts body.

The Creative Scotland Roadshow April 2011 - see contemporary
It is maybe useful to reflect that it is only 18 months since the CS Roadshow rolled into D&G in a blaze of powerpoint, soft acid croft and corporate literature. We weren’t really sure what to make of all this – for one thing we very rarely saw the high heid yins of the old regime down in the SouthWest…..but we really weren’t sure about all this smoke and mirrors. In the immediate afterparty the message seemed to be all about what CS was going to do about sorting out the ‘problem of D+G’ – this seemed to consist of ‘models’ that had been tried elsewhere that could be ‘just what we needed’ even our language was in need of attention…..memorably Environmental Art was rechristened Enviro Art! We blinked in amazement, but held our nerve – this was a time when new currents were surfacing in the region and we wanted to show the world what we could do rather than be told how to be like others.

But then something changed, folk from Creative Scotland started coming to our events and gatherings and they were not telling us what we should do, instead they were listening and taking in what was happening…..gradually the ‘big ideas’ were replaced by small awards to small-scale ventures that were starting up. New conversations started between different partners like the Council, Carbon Centre, Holywood Trust etc. Ultimately this is down to individual people discovering a shared vision and having the nerve and the passion to make it happen – to me this is the change that I see happening in Creative Scotland – the big corporate vision is being blended now with individual officers given the responsibility to make a difference in places.

The Dark Outside (Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges) Dark Skies @ Wigtown Book Festival
The theme of ‘Place’ has proved critical for us in D+G – the land is what binds us across great distances and we understand that creative practice of all forms reinforces that connection and feeds into so many other of the important issues in our lives.
Now the confidence gained through small initiatives is inspiring everyone to up the ambition and the region is buzzing like never before.
So, while there is still work to be done in refining the working methods of Creative Scotland as the brokers of a new partnership between artists and society………the SouthWest has much to applaud and be grateful for from CS.
Just some of the initiatives underway:
Wigtown – Creative Place award
Creetown – Creative Places award
Moat Brae (Centre for Children’s Literature) – Capital Grant
Star of Caledonia (aka Gretna Landmark) – Capital Grant
Big Burns Supper – project grant x 2
Dark Skies Residencies and Commission – project grant
The Stove – project grant
D+G Arts Festival
The Lost Supper – project grant
'Do Not Recussitate' (Climate Science and Art collaboration - Carbon Centre)
The Tide Machine – project grant
Artist + Craftmakers awards sheme
Talent Hub Incubator Fund
Environmental Art Festival 2013
Youth Arts Festival 2013 (still to be commissioned)
Wide-Open (development grant)
Literature Development Officer
Place Partnership support for the emergent D+G Regional Arts Structure

There will be more that escape me just now….please do add them below

Launch of Big Burns Supper Festival 2013 (23.11.12) - in cosmopolitan Dumfropolis now in its second year....hard to imagine it was just a twinkle in Graham Main and Simon Robertson's eye only 18months ago
It seems to me that, in our own quiet way, it would be good to balance some of the white noise of complaint coming from elsewhere – what do others think?


  1. More than 400 people have signed a petition in support of the original letter of complaint at CS published by the Herald in October. We should respect this action by fellow artists and not muddy the waters

  2. The Original AnonymousNovember 24, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    I wonder if any of our numerous artists (or arts sector) workers signed the petition? Anyway this debate must be able to accomodate multiple voices - it is too important to be a simplistic FOR or ANTI. It is very encouraging to see new vitality in the arts locally. I personally don't think CS is going far enough to break down traditional specialisms and audience separations.

  3. I didn't sign the 'artists letter' petition or the Scottish Artists Union petition.
    I think it is important that all individual views are heard and everyone feels they can speak without fear of censure or future consequences. If we don't speak up for what we believe in now, then we can have no complaint about the way things go later.

  4. Well said Matt, Our region is buzzing thanks to creative Scotland investment. They have beleived in us and invested in us for so long rural areas were forgotten about lets not return there!!!

  5. Excellent post, it's good to see the D+G establishment ruffle some feathers on behalf of the regions poor and starving creative types, but don't forget the sacks of money given to Glasgow based U-Z Arts to show the D+G buzzing arts scene how to put on incredibly amateurish events in village halls at little cost to themselves. Or the oodles of cash given to Edinburgh based Wee Stories Theatre company after the traumatic loss of their £160,000 SAC core funding, thankfully Creative Scotland saw fit to fund them so that they could bring much needed weans theatre to a region bereft of theatrical ambitions or talent. Praise be to Creative Scotland! Pity Mr Dixon chose to fall on his sword given the great work he's done in D+G.