Ms Hyslop came to the region at the invitation of Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Arts – and was particularly interested to learn more about the region’s Fresh Start for the Arts initiative. A packed audience at CatStrand heard both the Minister and Kenneth Fowler of Creative Scotland refer to the region as an ‘example of best practice in the arts nationally’ and Ms Hyslop went on to offer her continued support for region-wide initiatives like our emphasis on Environmental Arts and help us make further international connections for the arts, practitioners and organisations in Dumfries and Galloway.
She had a full day’s tour, meeting a wide range of people and learning about projects that are benefiting from Creative Scotland support of various kinds. It showcased both the vibrancy of the D&G arts sector, and the ways in it makes a real difference to the lives of individuals, groups and whole communities.
|Cabinet Secretary and Minister for Culture and External Affairs - Fiona Hyslop MSP .....launches Environmental Art Festival Scotland at Clatteringshaws - image Rob McDougall|
Perhaps the most colourful part of the visit was a trip to Clatteringshaws Dam for a photo opportunity which acted as a media launch for the partnership and for the new Environmental Art Festival Scotland. The EAFS has been offered partnership funding and is a prime example of the way it is intended to achieve lasting results. The hope is that once the festival is off the ground it will develop into a major national and international biennial event. That could have many advantages, for example keeping D&G at the forefront of environmental art and pulling in tourists.
|Fiona Hyslop asking Ruby and Beadee if she can get a shot with their bows and arrows - image Annie Crabtree|
The signpost, which is carved with quotes, will tour the region throughout the lead up to the main festival weekend at the end of August, allowing people across Dumfries and Galloway to add their own labels.
|Just an ordinary day in a riverbed, under a bridge in D+G - image Creative Scotland|
Later there were visits to the CatStrand for a reception and video shout out
featuring projects from across the region, then to Creetown to meet schoolchildren who have been creating colourful flags which will be used on special occasions to adorn a recently commissioned sculpture. There were also visits to the Fullarton Theatre, The Stove (where Ms Hyslop had a chance to meet the Fresh Start for the Arts team) and the Theatre Royal, all of which have received Creative Scotland capital development grants.
|Fullarton Theatre after their refurbishments|
The day concluded with a visit to DGOne for the eagerly awaited performance of ‘We Could be Heroes’ – the postponed opening show from January’s weather affected Big Burns Supper. The performance was on a spectacular scale with at least 150 performers on stage for the finale – the vast proportion of these being school children from across the region – who had all participated in rehearsals and costume making for the show over the weeks leading up to the original festival date. ‘We Could Be Heroes’ ambitiously attempted to combine new creative material with a mass participation ethos. Like any piece of art it raised as many questions as it answered and there will be long and fruitful discussion about the show’s apparent presentation of a polemic and the particular version of Scottish identity it portrayed.
|'We Could be Heroes' - image Creative Scotland|
Strenuous attempts were made to be as inclusive as possible in the visit – representatives of organisations and sectors were invited to events and a general invite went out to be part of the video shout-out…….one of the things that seems to be working at the moment is a greater awareness of each other practices and aims…and a willingness to cooperate – this was continually remarked on by Fiona Hyslop. Even if you were not individually featured as part of events yesterday hopefully everyone can agree that what is good for the region as a whole is good for all of us individually