Last week the Fresh Start team made a series of public presentations on the recommendations it will be making on a new and dynamic future for the region’s creative sector.
Some 46 artists, writers, photographers, poets, administrators and others came along – representing a superb cross section of the region’s skills and talents.One of the really pleasing aspects of the sessions was the high quality of debate, discussion and insight into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead if the region is to further build on its identity as a centre of creativity.
Peter Stark OBE and Fresh Start project manager Kathleen O’Neill led the two-hour sessions, in Eskdalemuir, Wigtown, Kirkcudbright and Dumfries.There was an especially warm endorsement for Fresh Start’s agreement with the sectors ambition to push itself forward nationally and develop strong international connections.
The presentations emphasised the need for a strong and united regional voice for the arts, built on firm local foundations and allied to an international ambition, ensuring that it can achieve the best possible results, in areas such as winning funding and attracting cultural tourism.
A variety of issues were raised by participants, ranging from concerns about lack of out-of-hours school provision for dance and performing arts through to the problems caused by lack of transport and by the high cost of hiring venues. Other issues raised included the importance of the voluntary as well as the professional sector.
Over the last two years the arts sector in the region has contributed to some genuinely ground-breaking developments in the way it works with itself, partners and audiences – participants at last weeks session recognised the way Fresh Start had assessed and understood this groundwork and had shaped their proposals to help Dumfries and Galloway best reach its undoubted potential.
There was warm appreciation for the amount of time that the Fresh Start team has devoted to its listening exercise. In addition to 10 presentations to date, over 100 face to face discussions have been held and more meetings are planned across the region throughout June.
Peter and Kathleen were extremely grateful to all those who took the time to attend last week’s events, some travelling a great distance to take part in discussion
If anyone wants to have a chat with Kathleen to find out more about the Fresh Start proposals they can send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll get in touch.