From Cathy Agnew Chair of DG Unlimited Board of Trustees
It’s been a really significant year for the arts in Dumfries and Galloway – hopefully in laying firm foundations for our future success. Among the 2014 highlights have been the awarding of Creative Scotland Regular Funding to The Wigtown Book Festival and The Stove. Both are superb examples of the diversity, strength and potential of our region’s creative sector.
Last year also saw many people devote a lot of time, energy and passion to the development of DG Unlimited, our new independent charity which aims to champion the region’s arts, culture and creativity. Even though in its infancy, it is still managing to find its feet as the achievements of 2014 give testament to the real possibilities that lie ahead.
The commissions to help in the regeneration of the town centres of Stranraer and Dumfries through direct engagement with the arts, have been hugely positive. Likewise the work done by our four area convenors, particularly around the Queen’s Baton Relay and in the organising of the South West Picture Show, have significantly helped to bring the arts to new audiences. All that, of course, has been in addition to their regular roles in supporting and developing the arts in Wigtownshire, Nithsdale, The Stewartry and Annandale and Eskdale.
We now have stage 1 of our new DG Unlimited website up and running and are keen to have your input on how it should evolve. It features the new branding which Creative Scotland CEO Janet Archer singled out for praise during the second of her two visits to the region. That trip was to give the keynote speech at November’s convention in Stranraer which acted as a platform and a good networking opportunity for D&G’s creative sector.
Other projects soon set to bear fruit are in the form of awards to be made from the £100,000 Regional Arts Fund which the Regional Arts Hub did so much to shape. Applications are due to be assessed early in the New Year and it is hoped that the results will yield some really inspiring work across the region. Likewise applications have been invited for two Nithsdale artists to go to Dumfries’ German twin town of Gifhorn, and January will also see the testing of the D&G Cultural Map take place. This was originally commissioned by Fresh Start and then subsequently taken on as a council project.
Our Regional Arts Convenor Kathleen O’Neill contributed greatly to the whole process and progress of DG Unlimited over the last year – whilst making a great many enduring friendships and connections in D&G. Recently we welcomed Alan Thomson to the new role of Regional Policy and Development Co-ordinator. This commission will prove vital as we move into uncharted waters during 2015 – we all know the potential which exists in D&G and share a real desire to see it blossom.
On behalf of the DG Unlimited Board of Trustees, thank you to everyone who has been part of our first year. We are all much looking forward to working together in promoting the interests of our creative sector in the years ahead in the best possible ways.