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Friday, August 1, 2014

Coming out of the woodwork in Annandale and Eskdale

From Alan Thomson - Area Arts Convenor for Annandale and Eskdale

There’s a real sense of growth and change in the arts in Annandale and Eskdale. New facilities, either recently completed or currently under construction, have the potential to be transformational.

The Performing Arts Centre at Annan Academy is becoming home to a number of significant projects led by local musicians thanks to the support of Jamie Brand, principal teacher of art and music. Absolute Classics musician and promoter Alex McQuiston will run his International Musicians Platform summer school there next month, bringing in outstanding musicians and tutors from around the world. While Andrew Turnbull of Bandskool continues to develop his big band venture at the centre, attracting musicians from across the region and even from Cumbria, with a view to launching a beginners scheme shortly.

The Buccleuch Centre will shortly reconfigure its foyer area to provide an additional space, fully serviced with lights and sound kit, for smaller scale performances which will offer more opportunities for both performers and audiences. Additionally on another site they have opened the Studio; two spaces, a dance/rehearsal studio and a sports hall, both available at very modest rates to community groups and already home to a number of dance classes.

The Devil’s Porridge has just unveiled its new build museum and learning centre at Eastriggs and will be incorporating creative participatory activities into its programmes led by community education specialist Andrew Nelson, recruited from the National Gallery, London.

Also nearing completion is the Eskdalemuir Hub, where lead artist Kal Malhi is ensuring that local artists and craftmakers are able to leave their mark on the building and its setting. They are also developing ambitious plans for residences, workshops and collaborations. The completion of new studio/workshops at nearby Kagye Samye Ling has increased the number of professional artists working within this small community of barely 200 souls, there are now 17!

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