At SURF’s recent ‘Creative Approaches’ conference, Creative Scotland’s Chief Executive, Andrew Dixon, presented his vision of the role of Culture in supporting better places. In this article he lists some outstanding examples of success and confirms the place-based focus that Creative Scotland will adopt in its work and investment.

In my first months in my new job, I wanted to get a feel for the unique contribution that different places make to a creative Scotland. From Dumfries to Ullapool, Dundee to Lochaber, places all unfolded their unique cultural strengths.

Building on Local Passion

I have just moved from ‘NewcastleGateshead’, where we set out to promote the place through culture and programming as a leading European destination for leisure and business.

Many know about the regeneration landmark projects – the Angel of the North (one of the most talked about pieces of public art ever produced), the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (developed from a former flour mill) and The Sage Gateshead – a live music venue and a centre for music education which has been listed as one of the ten best buildings in England of the last hundred years.

But perhaps less well known is that our regeneration vision was centred firmly on people and community and the NewcastleGateshead brand is all about the creative, passionate,
welcoming nature of the people who live and work there.

Andrew Dixon participated in SURF’s collaborative ‘Creative Approaches toReal Regeneration’ conference in Govan, Glasgow (10th November 2010)

Andrew Dixon participated in SURF’s collaborative ‘Creative Approaches to
Real Regeneration’ conference in Govan, Glasgow (10th November 2010)

Sense of Place

Understanding ‘sense of place’ lies at the heart of Creative Scotland’s work. Our relationships with places are multi-layered: artists and other creatives, funding organisations and events, local authorities and other partners such as enterprise agencies, the NHS, broadcasters and universities. We want to have a series of ‘single conversations’ with partners representing local authority areas.

Creative Scotland ‘place’ investment will be about repositioning and promoting the role of that place and the creativity of its communities.

Illustrating Success

There are so many examples in Scotland of where culture has been at the heart of community or physical regeneration. The Fèis movement (community-based Gaelic arts tuition festivals) and the Pittenweem Festival in Fife are two contrasting examples exhibiting the ‘three Ps’ of people, place and pride.

The Pier Arts Centre in Stromness is a gem – a brilliant example of culture-led regeneration. As soon as you walk in the door, you understand why the outstanding paintings and sculpture in the Pier’s care, and the special charm of the gallery itself, have long made the centre a compelling reason for visiting the islands as well as much valued cultural centre for the community. The £4.5 million redevelopment (including Scottish Arts Council Lottery funding) has enhanced the Pier Arts Centre’s reputation as a Scottish gallery of international standing and saw the building win the RIBA National Awards in 2008.

‘Inspire Creetown’ is a 12-month project inspired by the past and present of the place and people of Creetown, a former quarry town in Dumfries and Galloway. The project is one of our smaller Inspiring Communities projects, but one which has the potential to have a big, and lasting, impact on the local community.

Platform is a new arts venue in Easterhouse which sits at the heart of SURF Award winning project The Bridge – the overarching name for 4 facilities: John Wheatley College, Platform and Glasgow Life’s library and swimming pool.

The Bridge is one of the most exciting community leisure, arts and learning projects created in Scotland and is a fine example of what can happen as a result of significant strategic partnerships. Through Platform, the Glasgow East Arts Company delivers world class cultural activities.

Further information
Fèisean nan Gàidheal
Pittenweem Arts Festival
The Pier Arts Centre
Keekin’ in Creetown
Platform at the Bridge
IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts)

SURF will be working with Creative Scotland to promote creative approaches to community regeneration.