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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Arts Report from the (Wigtownshire) Wild West

From Sid Ambrose Area Arts Convenor for Wigtownshire

My first six months as Wigtownshire Arts Hub Convenor have been an inspiration and a challenge. I have been inspired by the sheer number of artists who marble and enrich the Wigtownshire landscape with evidence of their creative graft and toil. For similar reasons l have found it a challenge to open dialogue with a cottage industry which by its very nature is often based in the remote fastnesses and margins of my proverbial patch. However, l feel progress is being made, this has been greatly aided by the enthusiasm and support of all who l have so far communicated with in the Wigtownshire creative sector.

The groups and individuals l have been involved with so far have raised a number of issues which they feel impact greatly upon their professional development and quality of life and include:

• A desire to play a part in the regeneration of their communities via arts related activities.
• The need to increase footfall to their events, exhibitions and studios.
• The recognition that financial security, is required to aid personal development as an artist.
• A willingness to embrace technology, to communicate with global audiences.
• The feeling that Wigtownshire loses out on resources and support, because of the Dumfriescentric nature of our region.
• A willingness to share information about their work with industry peers and members of the public.
• A desire to be kept informed of commissions and funding opportunities.

Richard Leat and Sam Skivvington, directors of The Grainstore Community Interest Company, at the Grainstore consultation event held at the end of May.
Since taking up this post I have been working closely with a number of organisations which are striving to help develop our part of D&G. These are:
Creative Whithorn: Which supports the development of arts related activities in Whithorn and surrounding area.
Galloway Creatives: A fledgling collective of artists which has been successful in organising various exhibitions from Glentrool to Kirkudbright.
Stranraer Grainstore: A community interest company which has purchased a disused Grainstore in Stranraer town centre. They have plans to turn this monolithic building into a community arts centre. A beer and music festival was recently organised to consult with the local community.
• Sea Pyots: Currently exploring options for gallery and exhibition space in Stranraer, they feel the both facilities are essential to assist in the development of the arts in Stranraer.
Whithorn and District Business Association: A group keen to engage with artists to create events and commissions which help highlight the heritage of Whithorn. In medieval times Whithorn was a religious and educational centre of world importance, in more recent times it is still recognised as an important pilgrimage centre.

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