Scottish Government and council join Creative Scotland to welcome new body giving the arts community greater control of its own future
Work is about to start on building a new organisation that will bring a more strategic direction to the provision of the arts in Dumfries and Galloway.
Provisionally known as the Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Arts, the body will take a fresh approach that allows the region’s arts community to take far greater control of its own future and development.
Uniquely, it is made up of artists, craft makers, arts promoters and organisations from across the region, together with representatives of key organisations from both the public and private sector.
The project is being led by an interim group called the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Partnership which has now appointed a three-strong team to work with the arts sector during 2013 to get the chamber up and running.
Leading the chamber initiative is Kathleen O’Neill, a highly experienced arts management specialist with 30 years of national and international experience in creative leadership. Also in the team is Peter Stark OBE, an international expert in the setting up and running of cultural programmes. Joining them is journalist and communications specialist Matthew Shelley who has a long track record of working in the Scottish culture and heritage sectors.
Cathy Agnew, Chair of the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Partnership, said: “This is a really exciting chance to ensure that arts development and promotion is led by our own arts community. It’s great that the partnership has the help of such an experienced team, to help us spell out the importance of the arts for all to see.”
The initiative has already earned praise from the Scottish Government.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said: “The Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of the Arts is a welcome initiative that will put artists at the heart of their community. By bringing together artists, craft makers and arts promoters with representatives from public and private sector organisations, this new body will enable local solutions to be found for local issues, while at the same time contributing to the local economy. I commend the strategic vision of the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Partnership.”
The arts and cultural sector in Dumfries and Galloway enjoys a tremendous reputation across the country and overseas. The Dumfries and Galloway Arts Partnership was set up specifically to develop a successful model of arts provision that will benefit all parts of the arts community and its audiences.
Ms O’Neill said: “The idea of giving the region’s arts community more say in its own future is bold, imaginative and practical. Dumfries and Galloway is an amazing powerhouse of creativity and the chamber is a brilliant way to allow it to carry on building on its reputation and achievements.
“Over the next year, we will be out there working with artists and organisations of all kinds to ensure that the new organisation is geared to their needs and will do the best possible job of showing off the region’s artistic excellence to the world.”
The chamber initiative is being made possible through the support and funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Dumfries and Galloway LEADER programme and Creative Scotland.
Councillor Ivor Hyslop, Chair of Policy and Resources Committee, said: "I am pleased to see this initiative progressing because it is an important step in taking forward a new vision for the arts in Dumfries and Galloway.
“The initiative will see our council working in close partnership with the region's arts sector, Creative Scotland and other key players such as LEADER Dumfries and Galloway. This will nurture a vibrant arts scene across the region that contributes both to our local economy and to the well-being of our communities."
The national arts development agency Creative Scotland has also given a warm welcome to the chamber.
Kenneth Fowler, Director of Communications at Creative Scotland, said: “The development of Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Arts represents an exciting step forward for the area. Dumfries and Galloway Council and the local cultural sector have been working in partnership, with the support of Creative Scotland, to ensure that culture and creativity remains a part of everyone’s life in the area. This model of collaborative working allows the artistic community in the area to take greater control of its own future, development and promotion.”
A little more info on the background of the team - for the serious anoraks amongst you:
● Kathleen’s company, Culture Matters, provides professional development services to national artists and organisations. Her background includes:
- National and international creative partnerships/ change programmes
- Capital and revenue fundraising
- Public art instigation, commissioning and management
- Economic development partnerships
- National and international conference presentation
● From 2003-10 she worked with Clackmannanshire Council and in 2010 was sole nominee for a Clore (world) Fellowship in Cultural Leadership by the Scottish Government.
● Kathleen’s expertise is recognised in the academic world and she has been a visiting lecturer at Stoke University, Glasgow School of Art, and the University of Barcelona.
● Kathleen is also a visual artist in her own right
Peter Stark OBE
● Peter has returned to Northumberland after a decade working in South Africa where he carried out a cultural audit of Johannesburg’s inner city cultural resources and development strategies focused on the Newtown Cultural Precinct. Later he founded the Johannesburg Centre for Cultural Policy and Arts Management at Wits University. From 2007 he was based in the Eastern Cape where he founded The Swallows Partnership/Sihlanganiswa Ziinkonjane linking that province and north east England and now Scotland through the arts.
● Peter was director of Northern Arts from 1984-92. He played a critical role in the Gateshead Quays developments and the culturally led transformation of his native Tyneside – including The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the Baltic Visual Arts Centre and The Sage Gateshead.
● His earlier career was in experimental and community arts – serving on numerous Arts Council Committees in the late 1960s and 70s - as a cultural management teacher and as founding director of both South Hill Park Community Arts Centre in Bracknell and the Voluntary Arts Network.
● Peter was awarded the OBE in 1990 for his work at Northern Arts and a chair at Northumbria University in 2000.
Dr Matthew Shelley
● Matthew Shelley is a communications specialist who has worked with many prestigious clients including the Spring Fling Open Studios arts and crafts event, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and WASPS Artists’ Studios. During a long association with Historic Scotland he played a key role in the national and international publicity campaign for the reopening of the £12 million refurbished renaissance royal palace of James V at Stirling Castle.
● A former Glasgow News Editor of The Scotsman, features editor of the Bristol Evening Post and writer for many regional, national and international publications, he has been a journalist since 1980s.
● Matthew has a keen interest in Scottish culture and heritage and has a PhD in underwater archaeology from the University of Edinburgh.