From Cate Ross, Area Arts Convenor for the Stewartry
One of the big ambitions for the region’s Area Arts Convenors is to encourage more people to get involved with creative activities. The passing of the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) through Dumfries and Galloway provided an ideal opportunity for community engagement.
Alan Thomson, Belle Doyle, Sid Ambrose and I collaborated with a host of others to support a series of free opportunities for schools, clubs, individuals and organisations. The result was that on 19th June hundreds of people joined in all sorts of performances and other fun activities as the QBR passed through places such as Langholm, Gretna, Eastriggs, Dumfries, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright, Newton Stewart and Stranraer.
From the Convenors’ point of view it was great to play a part in such a big effort, by so many people, to collaborate on a region-wide event. There was a tremendous amount of work put in by D&G’s Active Schools and Community Sports Officers, school music specialists, Alison Burns Music and Community Learning and Development.
It’s estimated that 20,000 people watched or participated in the QBR event day in D&G. And by doing so they became part of something truly international. Over a period of 288 days the baton is travelling 190,000km across 70 nations and territories to end up at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The activities arranged in D&G were part of the Culture 2014 Touring Programme and covered a wide spectrum such as music, dance and literature. They included:
All Primary Schools n D&G learnt the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games anthem To All Our Common Wealth. Music specialists in schools taught this celebratory song and bands had free access to all the music, lyrics and instructional videos online.
Community choirs also received training from one of the composers of the anthem, Alison Burns, from Castle Douglas. Alison conducted many performances throughout the day including ones by The Feral Choir, Cairn Chorus and Penrith Community Choir in the lineup. In Castle Douglas Alison led a choir of around 150 people aged 5+ in the uplifting anthem.
Dance specialists taught dedicated choreography in schools and community organisations leading to Commonwealth Ceilidh and Big Dance Pledge events in Gretna, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Newton Stewart – where D&G’s newest youth dance initiative ’Be Inspired’ shared their skills.
The Marathon Cycle Storytelling Challenge – acclaimed actor Tam Dean Burn shared Julia Donaldson stories and songs as part of the Books on a Bike project that aims to tell all of Donaldson’s stories over the duration of the QBR and Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.