For those who might not have noticed the lengthening days, or lambs gambolling in the fields, the arrival of the catalogues for Spring Fling and Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival surely inform folk across the region that spring is just around the corner. These twin harbingers of exciting times to look forward to, at the end of May, evoke a flood of pleasant memories. Many will have happy recollections of journeys around our stunning countryside, fresh in its new season’s shades of green, to attend elements of these events, with growing excitement at the prospect of seeing and being stimulated by, a plethora of performances and art works during this annual surfeit.
It is encouraging to observe that both organisations are undertaking a process to discover if they are able to grow their capacity to deliver a service to the region on a year round basis and not just for a fabulous ten days in May. The ‘not just’ in this context seems very wrong, for when you get your own catalogues you will see the astonishing amount of riches therein and begin to understand the achievements of the small staff teams that have put these together, with invaluable input from their volunteer boards, members and supporters. Some intricate logistical planning will be required by those of us intent in making the most of the opportunities offered.
Meanwhile community activists and groups have been working together in the east of our region to develop the First World War Commemoration Project. A celebration of the pivotal role the area played in determining the outcome of the Great War. Work began in 1915 to build HM Factory Gretna and within two years, thanks to the efforts of 30,000 workers, this, ‘the greatest factory on earth, stretched for nine miles and was able to produce 1,000 tons of explosive a week. The townships of Eastriggs and Gretna sprang up, to the latest ‘Garden City’ designs with sufficient infrastructure to cater for all the needs of this new community – the biggest in Dumfriesshire.
A programme of community events is planned for the August bank holiday and these are currently under development, as the ‘Pack Up Your Troubles Festival’. While a sub-group is planning a lasting legacy in the form of a bronze sculpture of a Munitions Girl, or Girls if funding allows. The campaign has got off to a flying start with a significant quantity of pledges received allowing the committee to begin the process of creating a shortlist of sympathetic sculptors.