New arts body being created

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Work is about to start on creating a new organisation to bring a strategic direction to the provision of the arts in Dumfries and Galloway.

The Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Arts will take a fresh approach that allows the arts community to take far greater control of its own future and development.

It is made up of artists, craft-makers, arts promoters and organisations across the region, with representatives of key organisations from both the public and private sector.

The project is being led by an interim group called the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Partnership which has appointed a three-strong team to work with the arts sector to get the chamber up and running.

Leading the chamber initiative is Kathleen O’Neill, who has 30 years of national and international experience in creative leadership. Also in the team is Peter Stark, an expert in the setting up and running of cultural programmes. Joining them is journalist and communications specialist Matthew Shelley, who has a long record of working in the Scottish culture and heritage sectors.

Cathy Agnew, chairwoman of the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Partnership, said: “This is a really exciting chance to ensure arts development and promotion is led by our own arts community. It’s great that the partnership has the help of such an experienced team, to help us spell out the importance of the arts for all to see.”

Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s culture secretary, added: “The Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of the Arts is a welcome initiative that will put artists at the heart of their community. By bringing together artists, craft-makers and arts promoters with representatives from public and private sector organisations, this new body will enable local solutions to be found for local issues, while at the same time contributing to the local economy. I commend the strategic vision of the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Partnership.”

The Dumfries and Galloway Arts Partnership was set up to develop a successful model of arts provision.

Ms O’Neill said: “The idea of giving the region’s arts community more say in its own future is bold, imaginative and practical. Dumfries and Galloway is an amazing powerhouse of creativity and the chamber is a brilliant way to allow it to carry on building on its reputation and achievements.

“Over the next year, we will be out there working with artists and organisations of all kinds to ensure the new organisation is geared to their needs and will do the best possible job of showing off the region’s artistic excellence to the world.”

The chamber initiative is being made possible through the support and funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Dumfries and Galloway LEADER programme and Creative Scotland.

Kenneth Fowler, director of communications at Creative Scotland, said: “The development of Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Arts represents an exciting step forward for the area. Dumfries and Galloway Council and the local cultural sector have been working in partnership, with the support of Creative Scotland, to ensure culture and creativity remain a part of everyone’s life in the area. This model of collaborative working allows the artistic community in the area to take greater control of its own future, development and promotion.”