Whatever the result etc, the mere fact that folk could come together in this way across the region is testament to the way the arts are flourishing and breaking new ground in the SouthWest
The principles that the letter outline are of of a fairer geographic spread of resources and for a vision of the arts as part of the fabric of everyday life - culture and artists being part of the way we work together in Education, Health, Tourism, Environment etc....rather than something solely for a 'arts audience'. An approach that is exemplified by the emerging new arts structure in the region. The people who signed up to the letter identify these principles are part of the credo behind Creative Scotland and are concerned that this direction is not reversed in the process of remodelling the organisation.
As members of the arts sector in Dumfries and Galloway we wish to add another voice to the national conversation taking place about the arts in Scotland.
Since Creative Scotland was established there has been a fairer geographical distribution of arts funding. We believe that Creative Scotland has successfully balanced competing demands for the development of the arts and creativity across the entire country.
Dumfries and Galloway has long held a reputation of artistic endeavour and achievement and our recent experience of working with Creative Scotland has seen both an increase in confidence in existing work as well as promising new initiatives springing up from the grassroots. Whilst we accept that there are questions to be resolved over the delivery of some of Creative Scotland’s remit – we expect due recognition of the successes of the organisation in committing to a nationwide vision for creativity – we cannot countenance a return to the bad old days.
In the south west we are building new models of working in the arts that involve diverse partnerships with local and national organisations – partnerships that promise to deliver real impact for our way of life, taking account of both global environmental issues and the specific realities of life in rural Scotland. Creative Scotland have understood and supported these initiatives as they have been often led by the region’s creative community.
Taking account of this strategic direction, Creative Scotland has backed public, performing, visual and environmental arts, capital projects, festivals, literature and much more. This has helped many artists and makers develop their careers and has done much to further build the reputation and confidence of Dumfries and Galloway as a vibrant cultural centre.
We understand that many have wrestled with the changes that Creative Scotland has made and we believe that the discussion about the role of the arts in contemporary society is precious and vital. However, many of us operating in this region feel that the overall momentum of change is in the right direction and must be maintained.
Dr Jan Hogarth, Creative Director, Wide Open. Dame Barbara Kelly, Chairman, Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust. Charles Jencks, architectural theorist and land artist. Matthew Dalziel, Artist. Louise Scullion, Artist. Alasdair Houston, Chairman, Gretna Landmark Trust. Cathy Agnew, Project Development Director for the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust. Wendy Stewart, Musician. Jane McArthur, Freelance curator. Pam Pumphrey, Chairman Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival. Spring Fling Art and Craft Open Studios Event.
Tom Littlewood, Director, Ginkgo Projects Ltd. Pete Renwick, Director of the Emerge Agency. Emma Varley. Sam Booth. Jim Buchanan. Winnie Cooper, Wigtownshire Arts Hub. Jo Hodges, Artist. Alex Rigg, Oceanallover. Robbie Coleman. Linda Mallett, The Stove. Will Levi Marshall, Public Artist and Arts consultant. Matt Baker, Public Artist. Adam Booth, FWCB. Guy Veale
The letter was published as the lead letter in The Scotman and also in the Herald (though a number of the signatories were omitted for reasons of space (we suppose)
Those following the national picture will recognise immediately that the above letter does not exactly fit with "Creative Scotland Story" that is being written by the national press.....so it was no great surprise to see the way it was reported by two of the countries leading arts journalists:
Philip Miller in the Herald
and Andrew Eaton Lewis in the Scotsman
....as Mr Eaton Lewis says 'oh well'.
Still - this point of view was branded a 'lone voice' by another national arts journalist last week...maybe that voice just got a bit bigger...next week - who knows