definition

Com´mon`ty

n.

1.

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



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

David Lockwood would like your opinions

Ok Commonty.....every so often something comes along that is of genuine long-term importance (the sort of thing that we will have to answer for to our grandchildren etc,etc).....such a thing is the decision facing our local council just now on how to make the required savings in their cultural budget - we are being asked to contribute our opinions on the decision - see below from David Lockwood.

Underneath David's letter is the 'presentation' he enclosed with his letter. In our opinion it is pretty hard to understand what we are all being asked to comment on - are we to add up the potential savings from losing some of our cultural services until we arrive at the desired 10-20%? Are we being asked to let David know whether we think it is more important to keep the Museum at Stranraer over the Art Gallery in Dumfries? Or are we to tell him to tell the Cooncil to 'do one' and keep everything? Or maybe you guys get the task at hand better that we do?

Dear Commonty
You will be aware that all public bodies are under pressure to reduce costs and maximise efficiencies.  As part of its 2013/14 budget development process, Dumfries and Galloway Council is undertaking a review of its in-house operated arts and museum facilities.  Savings of between 10 – 20% are required. 
The views of our customers and stakeholders are an important consideration in this exercise and as part of this review I would be pleased to receive any comments  you might like to make on the possible savings options outlined in the attached document together with any comments you might like to make on any other options that you feel we may have excluded from our thinking.
Please send your comments addressed to me at the following E-mail address by Monday 7th October 2013.
We will subsequently be holding a small number of stakeholder meetings to discuss these options in more detail and to allow you to comment further.  These will be held at:

·         Gracefield Arts Centre, Edinburgh Road, Dumfries at 7 00pm on Monday 14th October
·         The Market Hall in the Victoria Halls, Annan at 7 00pm on Tuesday 15th October
·         Tolbooth Art Centre, High Street, Kirkcudbright at 7 00pm on Wednesday 16th October
·         Stranraer Museum, George Street, Stranraer at 7 00pm on Thursday 17th October

Should you require clarification or any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.
Many thanks,
David
David Lockwood
Service Manager Arts Museums and Events
Mob: 07711772908
Email: David.Lockwood@dumgal.gov.uk











Errr - hell yeah!

22 comments:

  1. The Original AnonymousSeptember 19, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Before we get drawn into a game of horse trading our publicly owned cultural inheritance, lets be clear that these 'cuts' have been imposed upon us by a Tory government in Westminster. A government that we did not vote for and one that is persisting with a universally discredited policy of 'austerity'. One imagines that few tears will be shed over the Stewartry Museum in the front rooms of the Home Counties of England.

    It is hard to believe that the wholesale destruction of an areas culture and heritage will be being proposed anywhere South of Birmingham?

    It is vital that we fight to preserve what we hold precious......but lets direct our energies at the right target and take positive action to change the bigger situation so that we can hold the gaze of future generations with pride

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  2. I agree with 'The Original Anonymous's' thoughts too.
    I think its a cheap shot to blame the Council, their budget is set from afar and they have to make decisons with their monies. The dilemma of where the cuts fall must hang heavy - as this is careers, jobs and the future of culture at stake but what are the options?
    We ought bear this in mind the next time we are asked to mark our crosses in the boxes at election time but we won't because I feel we are inherently selfish and greedy.
    Its a tragedy is what it is but I think it wrong to 'blame' the council who are faced with decisions that even old Solomon would struggle with.
    I have no answer except a fundamental and wholesale change to our awful political system but that won't happen for the reasons I gave earlier.
    On a positive note the sun is coming out here in Laurieston illuminating the Gallery and warming my bones.
    Love on you
    philx

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  3. The Original AnonymousSeptember 20, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    Now that Phil McMenemy agrees with me, I can surely die happy. Back at the coalface there is work to be done. If we agree (thanks Phil - btw, word to the wise, stick your head up sometime, there is world of people who haven't given up) that this is not a small-scale fight to be had with DGC - then lets pretend that there is no external Sword of Damocles hanging, instead we can look the gift horse of D&G culture in the mouth. Where could we be doing better? Personally, I would like to see Gracefield setting an agenda instead of looking for anyone that has one.

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  4. I should think that every member of the arts community in D&G should be sending a letter to David Lockwood to suggest that cuts should come from activities/structures that do NOT have creative activity, educational aspects or
    community participation at their heart. If childhood doesn't include the experience and habit of using a good library or museum fairly locally our children will be all the poorer for it. if you live in Stranraer and your nearest library is in Castle Douglas, how often would you be there ? I know that people argue it's all on the web these days but I don't know many people who want their kids locked into hours of interaction with their computer rather than with people.
    The proposed participation in this debate reminds me of those philosophy games where you have to argue which genius should be tossed overboard from a sinking ship - a series of negative choices - where it could be argued that 'the people' decided. Might be a better scheme to mend the ship. Some thinking on a more courageous level required.

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  5. It is unclear where the "savings" are coming from - building maintenance, salaries etc. Does it include redundancy payments, cost of rehousing collections? Has the council considered using these invaluable resources and skilled staff to generate income as opposed to the easy but short sighted option of closing museums down?

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  6. I call upon all right-thinking people of the unsullied earth of Galloway to rise up and denounce the vile metropolitan wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah in our midst. I speak of Dumfries and evil influence of the ‘arts’ that have seemingly bewitched our local representatives. The arts were once rightly denounced as ‘work made by the Deil for idle hands’…….study after study by fully accredited bigots has shown that the arts lead to independence of thought, self-belief and social innovation – ask yourself do we really want these things for our children our womenfolk and our feebleminded??

    I am compelled to write after another outrage reported in the hated ‘progressive’ rag The C’mon Tae (how much does THAT cost the taxpayer?) – yet another kings ransom given to a den of iniquity in the Metropolis. The Theatre Royal is to receive 45 million pounds of public money as part of a staggering 200 million pound (FCMV – Figures Came to Me in a Vision) ‘refurbishment’. Specifically, this well known fleapit, that peddles unachievable dreams and popery, – aims to use the money to ‘involve young people’ – WAKE UP people, can you not see where the greasepainted pied piper is leading us!

    This latest news comes hotfoot upon the revelations of further millions poured into the Electric Theatre Workshop – who are now actually employing children to lead others astray. Whilst I have vowed never to set foot in Dumfries I am told that their latest ‘Blood Orange’ £150,000 (FCMV) production was enacted in a NIGHTCLUB and encouraged children to talk about their feelings in public.

    I barely know where to start with The Stove – a shadowy organisation made up of ‘independent public artists’ (surely another name for socialists?). To date 27 million pounds (FCMV) have been poured into The Stove which continues to look like a an ‘adult bookshop’ and with all that money you would hope they could have afforded a key to open the door!! Their latest outrage the 'Nithraid' (est cost £16 Million FCMV) duped thousands of decent local folk into spending time standing by a dangerous river watching boats and 'artworks' when they could have been in their houses safely watching the television.

    Then there is CABN (Crap Advice By Numpties) – another ‘regional initiative’ that has never dared set foot beyond the limits of Dumfries and their pals, the ‘luvvies’. Just what do they do, other than drink frothy coffee and wear scarves?

    Finally the visionary leader David Lockwood has handed us a opportunity – we must grab it with both hands and strike at the beast. Much of this madness and evil has been spawned, over the years, by Gracefields (oh, the irony of the name). Hands up who has ever seen a decent picture in Gracefields? – I have certainly never seen one of mine displayed there.

    Let us vote to close Gracefields and use the money to build a wall around the Wicked Metropolis – then once again our children and womenfolk will be safe to dance and tend the fluffy animals in the fields before gazing in appropriate awe at a picture of a ‘bird that looks like a bird’ in a rural gallery.

    If the people of Dumfries wish to 'move with the times' let them do stew in their own juice and let it not pollute the pure waters of my Reservation Without Imagination

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  7. Similar to Alison Hamilton’s comment above, I initially had some difficulty working out where the savings may be coming from. It is perhaps worthwhile in the interests of openness and accountability to look at the total budget for Arts and Museums. It is given in Dumfries and Galloway Council document, Community and Customer Services Business Plan 2012-2015. (A pdf can be downloaded here: http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3627 ) Community and Customer Services revenue budget for 2012/13 is given as £30.578 million. The apportionment of budget to Arts and Museums is broken down as follows:

    Staff Costs £996,436

    Property Costs £257,706

    Supplies & Services £177,972

    Transport Costs £8,890

    Admin costs £69,992

    PTOB £396,165

    Total expenditure £1,907,161

    Grants £58,492

    Fees & Charges £262,035

    Other income £8,903

    Total Income £329,430

    Nett Controllable Expenditure £1,577,731

    Centrally Allocated Costs:
    Shared Admin Premises £23,514

    Central Support Costs £209,402

    Capital Charges £210,201

    Total £443,117

    2012/13 Estimates £2,020,848

    David Lockwood’s presentation gives the annual operating budget total as £905,000. The breakdown of costs for the different venues amounts to £526,000. A figure presumably representing what is remaining after all deductions?

    While David’s letter asks for ‘any comments you might like to make on any other options that have been excluded from our thinking’, this is difficult when the emphasis is clearly on cutting venues between 10 – 20%. It may seem perplexing that this is the only route offered but this policy is in line with one carried out elsewhere in Community and Customer Services where the integration of Libraries, Customer Service Centres & Registration has taken place. The document outlining that policy states it was intended as a ‘management exercise to determine the best option for location of the integrated service in each community using information already held on service needs and property. Community engagement would focus around how the integrated service could best be delivered at that location. This savings option would contribute to fast-tracking the rationalisation of the Council’s property portfolio. It would result in fewer but better facilities.’

    It should have been apparent that applying the same criteria to arts and museum locations was inappropriate long before it became a management exercise.

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  8. Dear David Lockwood.
    Along with nearly everyone I have spoken to about this cuts announcement, I find it generally opaque. I also confess ignorance of the detail.
    However, my intuition is that behind the threat of closures of institutions housing important collections, amenities, and cultural elements of regional identity is the policy implementation of perfect civic irresponsibility; the ALEO. Arm's length - ha!
    "Okay plebs, take the ALEO or we cut the kid! And, by the way, you are now going to be part of the leisure and theme-park ALEO." Forgive me for not being ecstatic about this prospect.
    Shame on you, you apparatchiks. Get up on your hind legs and do your wretched job. Fight the slashers for the money to keep these things. Do it for us. I don't just want a town I can be proud of, I want a council to be proud of. This is your responsibility. Show some courage. Take a leaf out of the artists' book. Look at the Stove, look at EAFS. Look at the Theatre Royal. Believe in something for pity's sake!
    Too much to ask?
    The Acronyms of this devolving world are not to be trusted, don't be fooled by their promises and flashy tailoring. Their knife will fall more quickly than yours when the going gets tough. It's just about money with them, they have no civic responsibility to maintain our cultural heritage but you do. Accept that and get on with it.
    Falling attendance numbers; a total irrelevance. Legion are the places of cultural significance that have been temporarily ignored. When it's gone, it's gone.
    Regeneration is the council's big number isn't it? What have you in mind, something barren?
    Apologies for the warmth of this response.
    Yours,
    Mark Z

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  9. Dear David,

    The emerging identity of Dumfries and Galloway (D&G) as Scotland’s creative region must be under pinned by amenities and provisions peppering the landscape, if not, the value placed on our cultural and creative vitality is totally undermined and ceases to exist. If the recommendations stated in the Dumfries and Galloway Council (DGC) review of in-house operated arts and museum facilities were agreed then the line “Dumfries and Galloway- naturally inspiring” would become a falsehood and leave D&G continuing to lack identity, cultural vivacity and further declining into a region of aged inhabitants and creative decrepitude, a hollow and insipid place. The landscape and population of D&G deserve much greater good than this.

    D&G does not have a lot of positive things to rely on, currently we can only be sure of areas of great and multiple deprivation (some of the worst in Scotland), massive unemployment problems, the aging demographic, no reasons or opportunities for our young people to stay in the region, a lack of aspiration amongst most inhabitants, seasonal income reliant upon transient populations, nothing much of value or progress in 21st century terms. Place this in the historical context of being a primary route between Ireland and Scotland bringing the relevance of D&G in the history of the UK to the fore and in the future tense as a vibrant neighbour to Northern Ireland and England. Furthermore, look at our historical context as home to cultural and educational genius across time and disciplines, people with international relevance and importance, Robert Burns; James Clerk Maxwell; David Coulthard; J.M. Barrie; Hornell and the Glasgow Boys; Jessie King and the Arts and Crafts Movement to name but a few. There is living evidence of these people’s existence in the historic buildings and collections owned by DGC which should be treasured and used to maximise cultural and economic value in the region not axed, stuffed away in historic public (closed) buildings or sold off for a pittance due to a global economic crisis, at such a time holding close the cultural capital is of paramount importance.

    Contemporary artists and cultural practitioners are inspired and driven by D&G’s historical context and are drawn to the region both as visitors and residents- as exemplified by the Spring Fling, Kirkcudbright Arts and Craft Trail, the Environmental Arts Festival Scotland, Wigtown Book Festival and three national music festivals (Knockengorrach, Eden and Wickerman). These things are part of the currency that our cultural capital is made of. Our museums and arts centres are other aspects central to our cultural capital; close down and sell off the provisions of free venues, restrict access to collections etc. and you have a tourniquet on the development and growth of cultural capital. With out which we would be a culture dying on the vine, and will have a population in despair.

    With out taking some risks in the face of austerity measures we cannot possibly rise above the poverty of provision that has led to the social demographic problems facing DGC at this time. These problems are partly related to a lack of commercial investment. To attract such investment DGC must offer, inter alia, a culturally attractive and creative environment, integral to this are local amenities hosting a thriving, relevant and provocative cultural scene.

    The Arts Hub process (as developed via a series of public seminars, voluntarily through professional sector-led working groups and by thorough practitioner consultation) has created some new confidence in the role of DGC and its staff to respond progressively and intelligently to the public and cultural sectors’ voice.

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  10. The Hub model, including considered developments like SCIO’s and other third sector partnerships, provides a sustainable conduit for the expression of the creative community and supports cultural diversity and access to arts education in D&G. The newly hewn model needs a diverse substrata upon which to stand, creative cultural provisions must be balanced against the core needs of spending in the community (E.G; - arts and culture are important and support health, education and tourism, indeed these sectors can use the arts and culture to their great advantage but need full DGC understanding and financial support to achieve this). Given a chance, the Arts Hub model will help regenerate and increase the attractiveness of D&G to the wider public, entrepreneurs (who will help create jobs), visitors and private investors who will support arts and venues. The austere measures (cuts and closures) detailed in the DGC review of its in-house operated arts and museum facilities would only serve to undermine the process of building D&G up as a cultural centre in Scotland, plus the message to the cultural sector and population of D&G would be- “we don’t respect your history, culture or creativity”, further these measures would thwart the burgeoning partnership workings of practitioners, cultural providers and communities with DGC and its partners, propelling D&G back to a much darker age.

    If taken forward, the austerity recommendations would serve to depress the energy and willingness that has been central to achieving the provisions we have seen growing over the last years. Implementing the cuts as detailed will deepen a vicious circle of disenchantment and spiralling poverty of culture. If, however, sustainable innovative solutions are found, a circle of opportunity can be created based on joined up and future-orientated thinking. This would strengthen the image of a creative region that DGC and the arts sector is pioneering, underpinning a model for Scotland that understands the need to respect and preserve our history, cultural vitality and necessary opportunities for public interaction with these. We need to rethink our public arts provision not axe it.

    The Arts Hub process has been making progress in rebuilding the infrastructure of cultural provision to allow better integration across the sectors of our community. Without core cultural local provisions there is a deficit of opportunity, a gash in the channels that community lifeblood may pass through, as well as a lack of amenities for visitors (places that encourage people from all over the world to make their way into the far reaches of our region and often to the roots of their own sense of place in the world). Scotland and D&G has international importance as a place of inspiration, education, cultural value, industry, scientific excellence, cutting edge creativity and historical relevance as well as being a place of outstanding natural beauty and home of the UK’s only Dark Sky Park.

    Rather than sell Robert Burns’ house for some relatively miniscule saving we should be reinventing how we place this national treasure on the international map. It increases the cultural value of Dumfries, which in turn knocks on to increasing the likely hood of people exploring the rest of the region adding value to tourism and cultural identity, a positive cycle.

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  11. A reinvention of the archaic museums (as Dumfries Museum has been working very hard to do) and a review of the administrative expenses of art centres and theatres are sorely needed. Currently they do not attract as many people as they could if they were more innovative both in the choice of premises and in their style of presentation of cultural things past, present and future which their collections and visiting exhibitions share. None the less, these venues have seen a collective footfall of approx. 190,000 people across the region per year; if that figure were used to estimate actual economic gain across the region it would doubtless blow the cost-cutting savings figure out of the window. We need to look closely at models of best practice as seen for example in the redevelopment of The Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery and the new provision of the Science Centre in Glasgow.

    One solution to the problem of imposed austerity measures is to take a look at the expensive structure of DGC’s cultural provision. There needs to be a streamlining of how our venues are administered, managed and serviced as opposed to a blanket closure approach. Regenerating, joining up with other sectors and redeploying our cultural economy is progressive, closures would mean cultural suicide, which would be a great shame.

    Certain innovative solutions are required that allow cultural centres to be developed, improved and ultimately kept in the public realm. The ALEO / SCIO idea is one, as long as it is carefully considered and underpinned by DGC, handing premises over to such organisations is another (this relies on initial DGC support of zero rent and rates in the first years), but could allow DGC to make savings on staff and administrative costs. It would be preferable for the experts who currently manage/develop such venues to be engaged in the creation of SCIO/ALEO provisions thus allowing D&G to retain their professional expertise.
    There are lots of solutions to be found and implemented if a long-term view is taken and DGC crunches numbers and the structure of delivery rather than axing cultural provisions with no notion of replacing them.

    The partnership approach taken over the last three years via the Arts Hub process (voluntarily by many members of the community) to establish a ‘grassroots up’ and integrated structure for delivery and provision of cultural life is just gaining ground; it would be wise to build on that. The important advances of supporting cultural infrastructure across the creative industries (via CABN for example) become a mockery if, for example, the Robert Burns Film Theatre and Tolbooth Art Centre in Kirkcudbright are closed. To undermine budding strategic development with short sighted and ultimately financially ruinous closures of key historical, community-orientated and visitor friendly venues could destroy the little credibility that DGC are gaining with the cultural sector. Recent mapping shows that this sector makes up a large part of the voting public and brings great wealth (economically and creatively) to the region, to alienate these members of the public would be a major step back for DGC.

    DGC’s credibility on this stage is largely won out by the good work of DGC service managers and staff who are consulting the population to help provide information to DGC elected members as to why and how culture and the arts are central to survival in D&G. The occasional vociferous support by the likes of Minister for Culture- Fiona Hyslop and some DGC elected members (Brian Collins introducing Creative Scotland’s Place Partnership investment at the Catstrand for example) have given great momentum to this innovative and geographically determined process. We are starting to create the bedrock of events, venues, practitioners and cutting edge practice that is finally putting D&G on the worldwide map, to close and cut back venues without ensuring their reinvention and relocation at this point is very likely to cripple the process.

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  12. Cultural reform would best start with the language of sustainable development as opposed to cuts and closure for short-term gain. A balance of third sector and voluntary partners with DGC / Scottish Government partners can achieve more stability and prosperity given time and progressive thinking. In the current socio-political climate DGC have an opportunity to stand up in Scotland as a champion of arts and culture helping to keep these vital elements of our past, present and future strengths at the fore and allowing the next generations to maintain excellence on the international stage. DGC have the opportunity to send the message that we need arts and culture to be at the very heart of a healthy and prosperous community.

    Yours sincerely,
    Cate Ross

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  13. The sprawling local government in Dumfries and Galloway has lead to stasis and alienation. Small, scattered communities are increasingly marginalised. An arm’s-length organisation set up to run arts and museums would hand over the administration to appointees and remove the last traces of democratic control.

    The redevelopment of The Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow that is part of the city's arm's-length cultural body Glasgow Life, which Cate Ross sights, saw a dumbing down of exhibitions in order to increase footfall. When funding is dependent on ‘performance’, the simplest way to measure that is by footfall. It has apparently worked wonderfully in Glasgow, numbers are up but at the expense of intellectual rigour and sophistication in the exhibitions at Kelvingrove.

    Cate goes on to recommend the ‘partnership approach’ taken over the last three years via the Arts Hub process. Unfortunately in each of the Area Hubs the ‘grassroots’ volunteers are not trusted with control of funding and it is seen as a non-elected talking shop for a few with numbers attending Area Hub meetings often barely getting into double figures.

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  14. In response to the anonymous comment above - whilst I resist polarised discussion, I have to counter the idea of 'dumbing down' with the equally unhelpful 'elitism'. We forget at our peril that what we are discussing here is PUBLIC financial support for the arts. As I see it the only valid argument for public subsidy is public benefit - in the case of the arts this is argued from two perspectives 1.participation and attendance in the arts leading to social (health, education, environment) and economic (tourism, communications etc) outcomes and 2. a means of understanding cultures as part of the big project of being human and the everyone that is human feeling included in that project.

    What is being argued for above is the ghettoisation of the arts into a minority pursuit for those lucky enough to be included in the club of the intellectually rigorous. I have no argument with people pursuing this line (I enjoy the click of the handcuffs of rigour myself on occasion) - but I have a major problem with the insistence on public subsidy for an essentially private pursuit.

    I believe in the arts as a very special from of communication - a means of understanding ourselves and others and taking an active part in that understanding. For arts to flourish they need to be accessible and inclusive....by so doing they become part of the wider exchange and communication in society and help to translate complex issues and ultimately improve the way we operate as a society (and I'm including economics in that idea of society).

    Those involved in the local approaches that Cate talks about (I am proud to include myself in their number) have worked very hard to build a channel of trust and understanding between those primarily involved in the arts and those charged with the big societal picture. What has kept this diverse group pf people on the same path has been a passionate belief in the value of the arts. We should not forget that in other parts of the country politicians have taken the easy macho political option of removing arts funding altogether. In D+G the picture is different, here there is a growing recognition of the vital importance of the creative sector to our regional economy (quoted as being in the top 10 local income generators) and a bewildering and beautiful spread of partnership working that is seeing the arts becoming a vital piece of the connective tissue that is behind many of the good things in D+G.

    There is good progress being made on 'performance indicators' and you rightly question the over-emphasis on 'numbers' - but I am pleased that the attendance numbers at Glasgow Museums and Galleries are going up - unless we increase the access and inclusion in culture then we not only condemn ourselves to the wilderness - but we forget the whole point of why we became interested in the arts in the first place.....because it spoke to us.

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  15. I have been involved with the Arts and Crafts in D&G for 30 something years and in that time it has been blossoming in so many ways... but I have never felt that the Arts Centre on the periphery was good enough. Now more than ever as it has become one of the things D&G is famous for, it needs the Arts to be in the centre of Dumfries. There are so many empty spaces in the centre and the Gracefield site is perfect for residential development... I imagine it would be possible to get the permission for a good number of houses on that site which would give it a considerable value and provide enough to build or convert something to the standards now required for a quality exhibition centre for the arts right in the middle of Dumfries with something left over. Would this not be a most creative way to provide the cuts if they are truly necessary?

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  16. This is a brilliant debate unfolding.. so many differing views.. D&G I love how much you care.

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  17. Please see urgent message from David Lockwood re Galleries and Museums Review - http://thecommonty.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/urgent-message-re-galleries-and-museums.html

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  18. Dear 'AnonymousOctober 9, 2013 at 3:45 PM'- I have been niggled by some of your comments and wish to respond in defense of the important process that you criticise, you stated that-
    " Unfortunately in each of the Area Hubs the ‘grassroots’ volunteers are not trusted with control of funding and it is seen as a non-elected talking shop for a few with numbers attending Area Hub meetings often barely getting into double figures".
    Firstly, there is no dedicated 'funding' for anyone to take control of, but gradually, thanks to the 'Chamber of Arts' system some commissions have been created via partnerships with LEADER, Holywood Trust, Creative Scotland etc. with small financial contributions from DGC- these are nationally advertised and publicly open to tender, also the integration of creative practitioners with local area committee fund opportunities and funding lines elsewhere has been a positive step; secondly all the area and regional hubs have been developed from a hard won egalitarian system including elected representatives- myself being one of them (or by mandate if there was no opponent); thirdly the small turn out to arts hub meetings does not, in my opinion, reflect apathy or lack of trust but more likely a dislike of meetings! Or at worst the low attendance reflects a lack of time/money available to cross country and volunteer in representing the arts; and last but not least this 3 year long process has been open to any participant with no criteria for engagement at all, meetings are public knowledge-including newspaper ads and every one has the opportunity to join in, it has also been possible to make comments and vote via email and information has been available via other internet forums. Those that HAVE been participating have done so at their own personal expense and to support folk who cannot or won't join in the democratic process they have thrashed out all the issues you mention (and far more). All participation is valuable, even anonymous comments, but beware of making false accusations on a process that is absolutely scrupulous and well intentioned as such negativity can hamper developments which seems rather backward facing. No one would argue that the model is just right, yet, but we collectively have a chance to build an area/regional model for delivering arts and cultural provisions from what little budgets we can identify and also to support all the practicing creative folk in ways that they require, what's not to like?? Do come along at the next opportunity to raise any further concerns you may have and be assured that people are genuinely working for the greater good. Yours sincerely, Cate Ross

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  19. Interesting that Cate should draw a distinction between the historical value of the Arts in D and G when compared with the contemporary equivalent. Isn't that because the public perception now is that the arts are something perpetrated at great cost on the public by a small elite of practitioners whose vision they do not share? That leads especially in times of economic trouble to most folk not really giving a toss about reductions in the arts budget. While this is to an extent a philistine attitude I also think the creative sector must share part of the blame. The arts need to connect to real peoples lives and needs and they currently don't. I don't know why this is: I see both my primary kids engaged joyously in painting, drawing, writing, story telling; then I see the majority of secondary pupils who'd rather saw their own heads off than write a poem. Somewhere along the way they've gained or been given the impression that creativity's for someone else. I think this fundamental attitude to the arts is what needs to be addressed. It's the key issue.

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  20. 'Be the change you wish to see in the world' - Gandhi

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  21. 'gnomic utterances won't do the trick'- McMillan

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