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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Arts Convenors welcoming in 2014

D&G's four new Area Arts Convenors were announced back before Christmas and have now begun work in the region as part of a major drive to develop the region’s creative sector.
The convenors are commissioned on a freelance part-time basis and will work with artists and arts organisations to push ahead with a series of projects until September 2015. Each will cover one of the four former districts of D&G:
·      Alan Thomson for Annandale and Eskdale
·      Belle Doyle for Nithsdale
·      Cate Ross in the Stewartry
·      Sid Ambrose in Wigtownshire
The Area Convenors will have a vital role in encouraging artists and arts organisations to develop and co-ordinate their activities and bring exciting new opportunities to the region. We want to see as many people as possible have the chance to experience and enjoy the arts.

Introducing the Area Arts Convenors

Cate Ross – trapeze artist and arts organiser
Cate is independent artist and freelance community arts development worker. She moved to the Stewartry in 2008. Cate provides locally based circus arts training, specialising in dance trapeze through her organisation ‘aethAERIALarts’.

Cate Ross
Cate holds a Master of Fine Art Degree in Printmaking, a BA Honours Degree in Applied Art (Illustration) as well as a professional certificate in Stage Dance, all of which coalesce into multi-disciplinary artworks that are enjoyed internationally; she has exhibited extensively in the USA, Scotland and Japan. With a Post Graduate Certificate in Community Education under her belt Cate has also been applying arts practices and education to community arts development projects since 2001.
Cate has volunteered for the Stewartry Arts Hub and original Chamber of Arts since 2011. Last year she won commissions to be the Cultural Research Support Worker for the Stewartry and an Arts Mentor to two young Stewartry artists as part of the DGAP Youth Arts Learning Journey project.
She said: “I am very impressed with the way that so many members of the D&G community have come together to create this exciting new opportunity to support the arts, culture and heritage within our communities. I have worked across the region, nationally and internationally as an arts and community development practitioner and my heart is now set on raising the profile of the wonderful creativity and life affirming treasures that the area has to offer."

Sid Ambrose – founder of Wickerman

Sid Ambrose
Sid is a native Gallovidian with a real passion for the people, places and produce from the region. His career path has been varied and colorful including a stint as a tattooist and working as a tunnel builder. 
For the last 15 years he has been fully immersed in either producing promoting or filming arts and music events. He is best known for coming up with the concept for the Wickerman festival and was artistic director for over a decade.
Currently involved in a number of projects through his company,he feels that Dumfries and Galloway is a uniquely creative place which takes its inspiration from both the landscape and resilient population.
He said:  "Over the last decade I have been extremely fortunate to have been involved in a number of high profile projects from Wickerman to Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival.I am very much looking forward to bringing the skills I have acquired back to Wigtownshire and assisting local artists to meet their full potential."

Belle Doyle – who helped win TV’s Two Thousand Acres of Sky for D&G

Remember Two Thousand Acres of Sky or the Peter Mullan movie The Magdalene Sisters? Belle Doyle had a key role in bringing both these to Dumfries and Galloway. Last year she was also the Fresh Start Youth Learning Journeys Co-ordinator.
As the council’s film officer Belle played a pivotal role in attracting Mullan’s production team to the region and ensured that all ran smoothly for the TV folk who made the successful BBC drama at Port Logan.
This was the time of Foot and Mouth, when the D&G economy was under severe pressure, not least because of a severe downturn in tourism. The £1m that the movie and TV shows brought to D&G was one of the few welcome bright spots – benefiting all kinds of businesses, including hotels and restaurants.
For the past seven years Belle has been away in Glasgow continuing her career in film and TV but returned to Dumfries in February. Since then she has been getting active in the local arts scene and is now on the board of The Stove. 
She said: “It's an exciting time to be involved in the arts in Scotland, and, more specifically, to be involved in a new artists' led movement that has real momentum and ambition.
“At the moment, Dumfries & Galloway is being seen as the site of a revolution in arts practice that brings in real social change, economic regeneration, and public engagement with the arts, and as far as I am concerned, Nithsdale is at the heart of this revolution.”

Alan Thomson – arts development specialist

Aland Thompson (right) with Richard Demarco in Moffat
Alan Thomson is well known across the region following his 10 years’ experience with Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association, latterly dgArts, where began as Area Development Co-ordinator before progressing to become Business Manager and Depute Director. Since then he has been developing arts projects and managing events on a freelance basis.
Alan is delighted to be taking on the challenge of the Annandale and Eskdale Arts Hub Convenor role so that he can support the artists and organisations of his home district to achieve their aspirations. He said: “This is a time of change for our creative sector, when innovative partnerships and collaborations are at the heart of contemporary arts practice; I look forward to working with ambitious practitioners on a wide range of projects.
“Annandale and Eskdale’s superb transport links mean that rather we can make the most of our proximity to the central belt and our links with Borders and Cumbria.”


  1. Is there somewhere online with the contact details for the Area Convenors?
    'The Team' on the Fresh Start site does not include the Regional or Area Convenors - or is this now altogether different to 'Fresh Start' and I'm searching in the wrong place?

    Confused in Corsock

  2. Anybody out there able to help with this...?

  3. Sincere apologies Upland Shepherd and all other readers for delay in replying ~
    Here we are ~ see email details below ~

    Alan Thomson -
    Belle Doyle -
    Cate Ross -
    Sid Ambrose -
    And - Reg
    (Short for Kathleen O'Neill, Regional Arts Convenor, Dumfries and Galloway Chamber for the Arts)

    Look forward to hearing from you onwards

  4. Alan - there will another opportunity to see Richard in Moffat on Nov 27th when he comes to give the inaugural John McAdam talk at Moffat Town Hall 3-5pm on 'Roads' - an imaginary journey of the Russian romantic poet and artist Lermontov,whose 200th anniversary it is this year, through the land of his Scottish Learmonth forebears not forgetting Thomas the Rhymer. See you there!