Creative Place Award Shortlist

Our joint bid with The Stove and Electric Theatre Workshop, if successful will see Dumfries become the Creative Place for 2014.

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What is Creative Place Award Shortlist?

Now in its third year, the Creative Place Awards were established to celebrate and recognise the hard work and imagination that contribute to the rich cultural life of a community, as well as its social and economic well-being. The initiative focuses on creative programmes in areas outwith Scotland’s main cities. The 2014 winners will be announced at the Palace Theatre in Kilmarnock on 29 January.

Who is behind the bid?

Since 2011 arts organisations in Dumfries have engaged in a nationally unique relationship with their local authority (DGC) and Creative Scotland, to build and harness strength in the region. This has been by implementation of the Place Partnership, EKOS and Fresh Start for the Arts consultations. The latter has reviewed a communications structure to encourage arts sector lead in building its future. The lead organisations making this application have played a key role in building a hub network that has included in participation at local (Nithsdale Hub) and regional level (Region Hub) These Dumfries organisations, are noted via the outcomes of the Fresh Start consultation process as amongst the most vital in the region at present.

This application is made in the context of the region’s growing strategic profile supporting joint ambitious planning for Dumfries.

Dumfries, the regional capital, is home to the Electric Theatre, Stove and Big Burns Supper; collectively these organisations have developed new audience in excess of 22,000 since 2011 and engaged over 3000 participants across a breadth of disciplines. Resultantly, Dumfries is developing appetite for inspired programming complementary to other venues productivity, such as the Theatre Royal and Crichton Campus with additional aims to contextualise Dumfries as a culturally exciting place. Dumfries based organisations continue to grow and innovate; Spring Fling is launching a UK programme, D+G Arts Festival is building on success of ‘In Our Town’, Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre (RBCFT) excelled recently with the South West Picture Show, Youthbeatz included 12,000 young people in 2013 and Greyfriars Concerts profiled a wide international classical music programme.

Dumfries is confidently positioned as a Creative Place, to build capacity 2013-2015 gaining new audience and building on current regional, national and international interest:

The Theatre Royal, following a £2million investment will develop a modern community theatre space, to be complemented by Electric Theatre Workshop’s newly funded Associate Directorship launching a new Dumfries centralised programme. The Stove building, the base for an innovative collective, will undergo physical transformation to integrate into Dumfries’ emerging Cultural Quarter. This rapidly improving infrastructure is supported by a region wide contemporary arts audience and continually gains wider patronage from local, regional and national public.

The Big Burns Supper Festival is rapidly emerging as a feature on the national circuit and as the ‘International Home of the Burns Supper’. This festival produces and presents a breadth of performance, visual art and literature, evolving with national and international networks and helping to transform the creative landscape. The festival produces major community performance projects which have raised the profile of several local heroes including Calvin Harris, Robert Burns, Jane Haining and Robert the Bruce.

The Stove is an artist-collective whose mission is ‘to expand and support a contemporary art scene in South West Scotland for the wider benefit of our community’. It inspires cross sector partnerships working in Health, Education, Tourism, Regeneration and Environment. In its first year, the organisation ran 3 highly innovative successful events: First Foot, Punkin’ the Jubilee, and Inbetween: Dumfries. These saw cutting edge contemporary art practice through the direct collaboration of artists and local people

Electric Theatre Workshop has stimulated a massive rise in participation and audience interest; Dumfries Youth Theatre, Dumfries Community Choir, and Electric Theatre Productions and has over 200 participants from the ages of 3 – 87. As a critical national organisation, the company via Big Burns Supper helped broadcast, as one of only two Scottish towns, the Olympic Opening Ceremony live in Dumfries.

Heritage (through the townscape and links with Robert Burns and others) offers a major attraction to Dumfries and in 2011, the town amassed 869,000 visitors. Recent capacity review illustrates that growth of contemporary cultural on offer in Dumfries could significantly build on current economic impact; stakeholders are well positioned to continue building levels of creative activity in the town centre through partnership working, as a key legacy consideration to a Creative Place award.

What are we hoping to do?

Outline of the existing programme for Dumfries:

2013 -2014 Place Partnership & DGC: The Electric Theatre Workshop and The Stove will have organisational and project development potential considered as part of strategic regional funding criteria to be in place later this year as an outcome of the Fresh Start for the Arts consultation process. If successful this will enhance capacity and the programmes listed below.

Big Burns Supper (January 2014)
Spiegeltent returns to the centre of town on the sea of a Homecoming Carnival

Southwest Picture Show (May 2014)
Second year of RBCFT’s innovative new festival using non-traditional cinema spaces and a community-led approach

Spring Fling (May 2014)
Scotland’s premier open-studios event has key locations in Dumfries town centre including: The Stove, Gracefield, Midsteeple, RBCFT

Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival (May 2014)
Key Locations in Dumfries Town Centre including: Greyfriars, Brigend Theatre, Easterbrook Hall.

TheStove@TheStove (March 2014 – July 2015)
A year-long series of research residencies to celebrate the full opening of The Stove HQ to the public and home to a radical vision of a relationship between artists and their town.

Guid Nychburris (June 2014)
The Stove continues to build on their collaboration with Dumfries oldest community event with ambitious live artwork programming.

Citizen Dumfries (October 2014)
The Stove leads on a series of participative artist commissions and public events inviting people to speculate on what the future of Dumfries will look like and how that can be part of making it happen. ‘Imagine a future – or be condemned to live in someone else’s’

Big Burns Supper (Jan 2015)
Our most energetic celebration yet which will be a major collaborative performance, titled Street Life which will push the boundaries of live, public and performance art.

Guid Nychburris (June 2015)
The finale to the Creative Places celebrations – drawing in all the participating partnerships and collaborations to deliver a vision for the future of Dumfries with a place somewhere for everyone.

Environmental Arts Festival Scotland (2015)
The second EAFS will be happening over the summer of 2015, with The Stove as a lead player in delivering the new programme. The Creative Places projects will feed into opportunities to develop strong links between the rural and urban environment and connected audiences.

Artist Led Approach

Our PROPOSAL for a CREATIVE PLASES AWARD builds on the artist led approach being developed in Dumfries and Galloway where artists, are learning to work collaboratively by taking centre stage in the decision making process.

The key elements are:

1. To strengthen partnership working between arts organisations in Dumfries by funding organisations to contribute new cutting-edge work to each others’ programmes. Working through a cross-disciplinary steering group, the lead organisations will develop an overall connectivity between existing events and projects by creating commissioned opportunities for arts groups and organisations in Dumfries to contribute their skills to each others events/programming.

2. Build on the growing collaboration between BBS, Electric Theatre Workshop and The Stove by delivering Creative Places as a working partnership between the three organisations.

3. Build on cross-sectoral strength in the Nithsdale Arts Hub with an arts-led steering group in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council – to support BBS and The Stove in delivering Creative Places: Dumfries.
Nithsdale Arts Hub allows artists and the wider community to connect with each other to develop meaningful work which places our community right at the heart of that creative network.

4. Imagine and deliver a ‘whole town’ approach to marketing the arts in Dumfries in 2014/15. A key feature of this approach would be the ‘Dumfries Creative Passport’ – a user will build up stamps at different events over the year. Creative Passport will work to increase awareness of the existing programme both to local people, and as a tangible marketing tool that can be used in territory marketing locations like Belfast and Carlisle. If successful Creative Passport will be linked into the ticket buying software and provide a long term legacy for the area.

5. Use Creative Place projects to try out new ways of making the town more welcoming/legible to visitors (EKOS 2013 – identified that visitors found Dumfries ‘difficult’ to navigate and factors like the local disc parking scheme ‘confusing’). The Dumfries approach is to use participative arts projects as means to test new approaches to issues in public spaces in the town. For example we would like to try creative approaches to signage/land marking/orientation. Creative Places: Dumfries will be the year that our famous hospitality begins to be creatively embedded in our public realm.

The specific Creative Places programme in more detail:

TheStove@The Stove is a year-long series of research residencies to celebrate the full opening of The Stove HQ to the public and home to a radical vision of a relationship between artists and their town. The current Stove Curatorial Team will be based in the building, together with other commissioned artists in residence. TheStove@TheStove will feed into all of the year’s programme of events, as follows:

Guid Nychburris 2014
Guid Nychburris is Dumfries’ oldest community event. The ‘riding of the marches’ remembers a time when the burgh boundary was a serious issue of security for townsfolk. In 2012 The Stove presented Punkin’ the Jubilee as a ‘fringe’ event at Guid Nychburris – in 2013 they were part of the official programme with Back2Back. In 2014 The Stove will further expand the cultural offer within the festival using the Arts to reconnect a large and accessible contemporary audience with the issues of identity and place that began Guid Nychburris originally.

Creative Dumfries will allow The Stove to commission other arts groups and organisations in the town (e.g. RBCFT, Greyfriars, ETW etc) to bring forward suggestions for ways that they too can be part of Guid Nychburris. The Stove will curate this larger programme and incorporate elements of the overall Creative Dumfries year with experiments in way marking and improving the welcome to visitors at the event.

Citizen Dumfries (October 2014)
In November 2012 The Stove presented Inbetween: Dumfries – a week-long programme of new live art, discussion, performance and film. This work was part of the UK wide Inbetween programme led by Newcastle University and allowed The Stove to begin a conversation with local folk about the future identity of their town. Citizen Dumfries builds on this foundation and is a key part of TheStove@TheStove project.

Citizen Dumfries will comprise 4 research-led residencies for artists (of all disciplines) commissioned to make new work with local people and present the work in public spaces. Creative Dumfries will allow The Stove to extend the opportunity for involvement in Citizen Dumfries to other partner organisations, groups and individuals in the town and further build on the idea of the cultural sector taking a lead in the development of Dumfries as a contemporary regional capital.

Themes of citizenship (post-referendum) and hospitality (homecoming) will be central to Citizen Dumfries – with concentration on a layered understanding of the fabric of the town and how this can become newly legible for visitors.

Guid Nychburris 2015
Guid Nychburris 2015 is the climax of both Creative Dumfries and TheStove@TheStove. It will build on all the elements of Creative Dumfries (Creative Passport, Way Marking, Street Life, Citizen Dumfries and Guid Nychburris 2014). This will be the contemporary cultural version of the ‘riding of the marches’ with creative activity taking over myriad under-used and neglected spaces in the town. The town will be occupied and ‘lived’ in a way never seen before with living rooms created in closes canopies over town squares and dining tables in car parks. The large audience of townspeople that gather for Guid Nychburris will be directly involved in creating and participating in the day’s events.

Creative Dumfries will give the arts in our town the chance to shine as never before and do so in the spirit that art is made in Dumfries – with the participation and drive of our local population. As part of our contribution to the UNESCO Year of Light – Guid Nychburris 2015 will help establish Dumfries as a vibrant international cultural destination with something rooted and compelling to offer our visitors.

In addition:

In 2014 our region will launch the first region-wide ticketing system that will allow us to track audience intelligence across participation and engagement in the arts.

Various sites will be issued with a marketing tool-kit that will help local people navigate their way through the breadth of work over the four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn) These will complement existing educational, health based, commercial and tourism outcomes.

Working in partnership with local hotel providers –cultural and tourism offers will be combined to offer visitors with best value in an effort to attract them, and help signpost them to culture when they are here.


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Tickets can also be bought in person from our box office (on Munches St) or by calling 01387 271820.

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