From Kathleen O’Neill, Chamber of Arts Regional Convenor
One of the big ambitions for the Chamber of Arts has been for artists and arts organisations to have a fuller role in the future of the sector in D+G.
Over the past few months we have been laying the foundations for this to happen – and good progress is being made.
Having said that, putting together a new model and structure for the region (the first of its kind in Scotland) is no mean feat.
Looking back to the start of the 2014 there is already much to celebrate – not least the introduction of four Area Arts Conveners.
Since January they have been building up interest in sector-led development, getting people involved with the hubs and working at grass roots level to co-ordinate activity and provide support to practitioners and organisations. All of this is about building capacity and unleashing yet more of the region’s creativity.
The Chamber of Arts itself officially became a charitable organisation as recently as four months ago, which was a big step forward.
Then in April the Regional Hub held its inaugural meeting. This marked the start of something exciting. It provides the sector with a new voice and consists of artists, and representatives of arts organisations and festivals, whose work is currently invested in by Dumfries and Galloway Council and Creative Scotland.
The main role of the Regional Hub is to work with conveners to drive sector development and draft a regional arts plan, offering advice to the Chamber’s trustees.
On a practical level the Chamber has already made a very real difference in the region. There have been 18 commissions including 10 regional projects, two town centre regeneration projects (Stranraer and Dumfries), five part-time freelance convenor opportunities, plus a new communications and marketing contract.
Other activities have included exploring heritage interpretation in the west and the international ambitions for Moffat. The convenors are also working with the council to support creative sector business development, apprenticeships and cultural mapping.
The changes we are making have attracted national interest and we have met with a series of organisations keen to understand the direction D+G is taking. These include Luminate, Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, the British Council, Scottish Contemporary Arts Network and various universities.
All is very much a work in progress, but ambitions are high and creativity is bountiful.
Any questions, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and to get a membership form to join the Chamber just email Mjhshelley@hotmail.co.uk