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Friday, November 7, 2014

The Stewartry at the Regional Arts Convention

And for those of you who were not able to make the convention on Wednesday, here is an extract from Cate Ross's area convenor presentation to give you a flavour of the day!

From Cate Ross, Area Arts Convenor for the Stewartry

Transcript of SAH Convenor presentation
DGU Annual Arts Convention 5th November 2014 by Cate Ross

The DG Unlimited (Chamber of the Arts) area arts hub model is not about boundaries between areas, geographical or by art form, it is about diminishing existing or perceived boundaries and working with an inclusive partnership and cross-disciplinary approach. I’d like to share with you some of the creative splendour of the Stewartry.

Over the last year the DGU arts hub system has provided much professional guidance within the creative community, we have also established and support an information sharing system which strengthens the arts sector network and increases access to opportunities created therein.

Links have been forged between the health service (Turning Point, Putting You First pilot with NHS Scotland in Castle Douglas), education department (Active Schools and Community Sports and Community Learning and Development) and organisations that celebrate the great outdoors (Visit Scotland, National Trust Scotland, DGC Ranger Service). Partnerships with the tourism (Event Scotland) and business sectors (Third Sector First, Business Gateway, DGC Economic Development) are also in development and signposting between organisations is proving to be successful.

All of these improvements increase the arts sector’s capacity and sustainability helping people and organisations understand and experience the intrinsic value of creativity in society and supporting the achievement of a wide range of goals across the sectors.

Here is a list of just a few of the key creative independent organisations in Stewartry that join in the arts hub system and help nourish creative success: - 

Creetown Enterprise Ltd, part of the Development Trust Association Scotland that helps support community led creative regeneration locally and across the region.

The Catstrand (The Glenkens Community and Arts Trust) is a multi-arts venue and eco-built visitor centre with café that, among other things, provides top quality year-round youth art training in filmmaking and performance art including numerous performance and exhibition opportunities. These projects include participants from across the region fulfilling a requirement for youth arts provision that is in need of support and development.

Knockengorroch CIC creates an annual World Ceilidh- that brings traditional world music to one of the most long-standing, rural green field festivals in the UK. Now running up to its 17th year, thousands of unique visitors arrive in Stewartry from across the globe to participate in an authentic grassroots festival of world-class music. The various stages provide opportunities for young local musicians to perform alongside renowned and seasoned professionals. The organisers, based around a family of 4, work year round to develop, produce and promote the events including regular ‘work weeks’ providing learning opportunities in land crafts and production skills. They also host an annual ‘Batle of The Bands’ for local musicians to compete for a performance slot on the main stage at Knockengorroch World Ceilidh. The Knockengorroch Winter Warmer has also become a fixture of the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries, providing another performance outlet for musicians from the region and further afield, this also links up the urban and the rural community in celebration of traditional music.

More images available here
Kirkcudbright Art and Crafts Trail is a voluntary organisation now heading into its 12th year of producing a grand scale annual open studio trail that includes well over 100 venues and many more artists. It attracts thousands of visitors per year to the town over its four-day event and includes many creative elements beside art and crafts including dance, literature, music and community art projects. The open studios are not curated, which is special characteristic of the trail, anyone may offer their home, garden, garage or doorstep as a venue to show and sell their art, some becoming a host venue to artists who do not live in the area. Several large venues are taken over to exhibit and sell arts and crafts from across the region. Many producers from further afield are also keen to take part; the town brims over with the creative showcase and associated events.

The Gatehouse of Fleet Festival Group who develop their annual Midsummer Music Festival, attracting top bands to the beautiful Fleet Valley village and contributing to creative practices for all ages, year round in Gatehouse. This has supported the cohesion of local musicians contributing to the excellent Mill Sessions and the launch of a new record label, Lost Wasp Recordings.

Stewartry also benefit from many artist collectives that have grown out of this fertile creative ground: -

WASPS charity has a studio complex in Kirkcudbright providing affordable workspaces that are in great demand.
Dalbuatha Artists Collective in Dalbeattie operating out of the Nail Factory gallery
Stewartry Open Studios
IRIS- Artist’s Book Collective
The Hidden Mill- our newest sustainable public art collective who contributed to The Stove Network’s ‘Nithraid’ and ‘Trading Journeys’ (Wigtown Book Festival event) with an ecological bicycle powered foundry developed with artist Katie Anderson, which supported and facilitated the casting of celebratory recycled metal buttons and spoons by members of the public of all ages.

Stewartry artists are also part of region wide collectives: -

intertwine –Galloway Textile Collective
The Solway Artists
The Yellow Door Gallery
The Stove Network

Stewartry has the highest concentration of artists who are selected to participate in the annual Spring Fling open studios event.

These are all examples of collective activity emerging out of the enthusiasm of practitioners- allowing professionals and aspiring professionals to work side by side, enriching the cultural diversity and continuing development of creative people in the Stewartry and beyond.

DGU exists to support and champion this creative fortitude.

We have internationally recognised collaborative artists like: -
Helson and Jackets Ltd. whose cutting edge 3D hologram sculpture work was shared at the Venice Biennale this year by way of live webcast from the bothy in their garden.
Ruth Morris (one of very few Nyckelharpa players in the UK) and Gavin Marwick a fiddle player extraordinaire who are part of Bellevue Rendezvous and The Journey Man Project keeping traditional music alive and invigorating it!
Leeming + Paterson, fine art photographers who have recently published an important large format book of their environmental photography called Zero Footprint.

Photograph of the Journeyman Spectacular © Steve Niblock
Stewartry artists enhance the quality of creative practice regionally, nationally and internationally. It is uplifting to see local and national partners supporting local ambitions that have an international reach and all working together to increase access to the arts.

The DG Unlimited membership organisation brings together the skills, enthusiasm and ambitions of creative communities; through its mechanisms more artists are connected within their own locale and beyond. There is more support and access to professional development opportunities as well as an increasing sense of being an artists’ region making D&G –the creative place to be!

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