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Saturday, February 14, 2015

News from Nithsdale

From Belle Doyle, DG Unlimited Nithsdale Area Arts Convenor

2015 looks set to be an exciting and momentous year for the Nithsdale Area, and a feeling of growing confidence about arts and the creative industries. We are all keen to nurture local talent and to see the ambitious projects grow; the recent awards by from the Regional Arts Fund for the Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival, the Globe Theatre performing at the Crichton, the Environmental Arts Festival, Electric Theatre Workshop and The Stove are a great indication of the scale of ambition that is present here in the area.

The year has started off with a bang with nine days’ worth of festivities from the Big Burns Supper who report a record number of tickets sold this year, and the development of a bookable performance space at their premises in Munches Street, Dumfries. Building works at 100 High Street are set for completion this month, with the Dumfries Music Conference (DMC) 2015 being organised in the building at the end of April. The DMC would like to know what people would like to see included in the next programme, and have put together a brief survey available here.

If you haven’t participated yet, and have ideas or comments about what would be useful to you and your music, please click on the link and do the survey. With The Stove Network planning the building’s grand opening at Guid Nychburris in June, and the newly refurbished Theatre Royal opening by the end of the year, the current problems about lack of suitable performance space and bookable venues in Dumfries may be over.

In Sanquhar, A’ the Airts has launched a major new knitting initiative thanks to an award from Santander Bank. The Upper Nithsdale Arts and Crafts Community Initiative won £10,000 in the bank’s Social Enterprise Development Awards (SEDA) which are given to social enterprises and trading charities to grow their businesses, to improve the local community both economically and socially. This award will support a long-term project to produce high-quality knitwear using the traditional, distinctive Sanquhar patterns: two-colour geometric designs that date back to the 17th century, as featured on Reporting Scotland on 10 February. For more details about the project, and about A’ the Airts in general, please see the website.

Meanwhile, in Carronbridge, where the award-winning Bunbury Banter Theatre Company CIC are now based, Phillip and Ali are bringing their considerable expertise in theatrical productions, audio drama, new writing and educational classes and programmes of all shapes and sizes. Over the past year, the company has already been involved with The Dark Outside, offering several of their pieces for inclusion in the sound installation project in the Dark Skies Forest, and The National Theatre of Scotland's Five Minute theatre festival. Bunbanter's (as they are known) first education project in the area is also now successfully up and running. The Young Theatre Groups, which run on Monday evenings during term time, are two groups based in mid/upper Nithsdale focusing on developing the skills, confidence and theatrical understanding of their participants. Please see their website or their Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates and information about all things 'Bunbanter'!

For more information about what is going on in the Nithsdale Hub, please keep an eye on the Facebook Group here or join the mailing list by contacting Belle at

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