All of Scotland deserves centres of excellence not just in the middle

I took a ride on a train one day, starting off at Dundee Rep with its creation space for Dance and Theatre, making my way to Perth Concert Hall to be blown away by its grand concert space and then ending up in the MacRobert Arts Centre, nestled under its historic hill.  The total journey time by train was just 57 minutes, and in that time I was able to connect with a plethora of artists, new works and live music.  Each venue’s talented staff and venue programme are worth celebrating.

But I felt totally let down by the idea that our arts are centred where there is any wealth in the country. 

Take a journey from Stranraer to Galashiels and you won’t find any buildings of that level of investment, capital or operational in over 138 miles.


Why the contribution is important

How is that fair?

How have we not tried to fairly split our cultural resources evenly throughout our country at the point of devolution, or have we become so fixated about constitutional matters that we forgot to redress the total inbalance of our cultural investment accross the middle of the country. 

Why isn’t culture being used more instrumentally to help stimulate something radical and epic in the South of Scotland?

Someone has to stand up for the South of Scotland - it's losing out big time. 

If our politicians don’t get it – surely our artists can see that the next cultural strategy for Scotland offers us an opportunity to address that.  It offers us the chance to say that no matter where you are in Scotland, you deserve to be close to a centre of artistic excellence. 

We need a building of significance somewhere in the South of Scotland. 

by keepitreal on July 24, 2017 at 03:55PM

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  • Posted by gwenadair August 01, 2017 at 17:56

    Access to the arts is vitally important for all communities, and can huge impact on those with the least life chances and their communities (eg Big Noise). However people in rural areas and areas of deprivation have much poorer access due to lack of facilities and transport costs. Funding is needed to bring arts initiatives and opportunities to all of Scotland's communities.
  • Posted by nstainthorpe August 03, 2017 at 16:35

    I completely agree with gwenadair. I come from an area with several small villages that are both rural and deprived areas. Public transport is limited at best, non-existent for many villages and cost prohibitive even if you have a service to use. Help for communities to provide and encourage opportunities in their community would make a massive difference to people living in these areas.
  • Posted by goosander September 07, 2017 at 15:22

    I agree with all these comments. Build it and we will come. Small towns across Scotland need and deserve attention to increase an arts infrastructure that binds them to the efforts in the larger cities. There could be a cohesive city/town/rural framework for planning and development that binds us all into a cohesive cultural framework, and Scotland is a perfect size for that kind of visioning. The south of Scotland needs attention. I live in Dumfries, a town that is a hub for D&G, and that cries out for attention and funding. The town centre has all kinds of available space that offer tremendous opportunities for community art spaces: classes, workshops, adult learning, production resources, presentations. The Stove is a wonderful innovative venture that engages with the Council and Scottish govt and deserves increased support for its work as an arts incubator for new thinking and initiatives. Gracefield Art Centre could be developed to provide more community services and exhibition space, and there is a need for an events venue. There are very good arts and technology programs on the Crichton campus that could be expanded with a focus on local business incubation. With more attention and investment Dumfries could easily evolve into an energetic and thriving centre that attracts artists and creative technologies, even from the cities. How about grants for young arts and technology graduates to invest a year in small towns? And let's not forget public transport: people young and old need to be able to travel to arts events, whether they are local or in larger twons and cities. It is very difficult to travel east/west across the south of Scotland, while rail travel to Glasgow and Edinburgh from Dumfries and areas west is extremely slow and trains are few; there is a great need to update upgrade services. The same of course is true for the Borders. I know this is a long list, but experience shows how much can be done with a little, how much energy can be unleashed when a good idea takes hold.
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