Creative Dundee

Our Year in Review 2016!

Indeed what a year. We’ve had a look back at the last year to remind ourselves that there were actually really positive and encouraging things happening, so we’re sharing our 10 top highlights of what we’ve enjoyed getting up to during 2016.

As a small team helping amplify and connect the city’s creativity, one of the best parts of the year has been working in partnership with others, and with our new voluntary Board. The Board’s enthusiasm and energy has really helped our still fairly young organisation to develop behind the scenes, so I owe them and our two Producers huge thanks! You can find out more about our Team and Board here.

Thanks to you also – everyone who gets involved, helps others and partners up with everyone. Here’s to an active, peaceful and connected 2017 ahead.

1. Blogmanay in Dundee

Image: Emily Luxton

Our 2016 started on 2nd January with an international bang when six Blogmanay bloggers from across the globe arrived in Dundee for a three day design-focused trip. The travel bloggers were from Hong Kong, China, France and England and this was their first time in the city. Creative Dundee and the UNESCO City of Design team showed them around and despite the weather being unusually totally terrible the whole time, they really enjoyed their experience in the city.

From admiring Maggie’s Centre architecture, to visiting Spex Pistols, playing video games at Abertay and even joining a ceilidh on the Unicorn; a pretty unique highlight for them was spending a couple of hours with handweaver, Cally Booker in her studio in Wasps making gifts to take back home. You can read blogger Emily Luxton’s thoughts on the city here.

2. 99 Things to See and Do in Dundee

This is the second crowdsourced city guide Creative Dundee has produced in collaboration with people who live here and love it, our first was back in 2012. The response to our call for suggestions in February 2016 was terrific, we received so many ideas on things to see and do in our city which could help people navigate the city and find out the local favourite spots – from indie shops to cafes, galleries to green spaces.

We were able to produce hard copies of the guide thanks to support from Ignite Dundee, and these were given away at Dundee Design Festival, Craft Scotland Conference, and Dundee Literary Festival. The guide is also being used by the local Universities to help freshers get to know the city better. It can be found here – and if you download it to your device it becomes interactive/clickable!


3. Amps

In a time of reducing resources, and an increasing desire for new democratic approaches, we’re really excited about the potential of Amps to use our collective forces to grow, nurture and celebrate creativity in Dundee for everyone.

Amps launched in November and is a new way of supporting Dundee to be even better, have your voice heard, and help make the world as passionate about Dundee’s creative scene as we all are. You can become an Amp wherever you are in the world – a year’s subscription costs about the same as an average month’s mobile phone contract – and along with receiving benefits, there’s an innovative new Community Ideas Fund, a cash award each October to kick-start a new collaboration between two or more local Amps! The fund will benefit Dundee and all Amps decide on who should get the cash award annually. Join Amps or even Pay it Forward to support others to benefit here.


4. Fabric and the Creative Sector Blueprint

As creativity and innovation will be key to the city’s future, we saw a need to co-design a city-wide strategy and actions to support those studying and working in the creative sector, over the next few transitional years. The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design felt a good year to create a new approach to developing this strategy. Knowing that for this to be successful/useful it would have to be driven by the sector, we took it upon ourselves to set up a stakeholder group for all local and national agencies who have a remit for supporting the creative sector to come together and develop thinking in this area.

Most critically the Fabric Dundee project made sure that the views and opinions were heard of people from various creative backgrounds at different stages of their career. Through Fabric we also had a study visit to Edinburgh to explore their collaborative approaches to supporting the sector. The next stage is to share Dundee’s Creative Sector Blueprint 2017 – 2021 in early 2017.


5. Mass Assembly

Creative Dundee and Creative Edinburgh joined forces in May during the inaugural Dundee Design Festival to run Mass Assembly, a one day forum which brought together people who are part of hubs, collectives, networks and clusters to explore the future of collective working for creatives and the places they are based. Over 130 people from all over Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, representing  a great mix of public, private and third sectors, joined the forum to discuss the challenges of working as part of a collective, cluster, network, hub and consider the business models that support them.

We developed and ran this Live Audit on the day – a collective snapshot of what the landscape looks like for creative hubs at this point in time.  More about the forum can be viewed here. We were also really happy to be a partner of Dundee Design Festival, which saw over 7,000 take part in the 4 day full festival at West Ward Works – huge well done to the DDF team for making it happen so well.


6. Pecha Kucha Insights

DJCAD final year designer Jasmine Holt collaborated with us over summer to help us consider how we share stories and impacts from Pecha Kucha Nights. Jasmine undertook a number of interviews with past speakers/attendees, created an online survey to get more insights, and then developed an interactive illustration showing the results.

The insights were fascinating – 91% of people felt Pecha Kucha Night Dundee improved their awareness of what was happening locally, 85% felt it had improved their view of Dundee as a creative place to live, and 65% of people felt inspired to to try something new. You can read Jasmine’s blog about this here and definitely do check out her final interactive illustration here.


7. Local Heroes

Local Heroes was a brilliant pop-up exhibition at Edinburgh Airport’s outdoor plaza presenting a new narrative around contemporary Scottish design to an international audience. The exhibition ran throughout August, curated by Dr Stacey Hunter and featured exciting new commissions which reconsidered the notion of the souvenir and responded to the theme of travel. More about Local Heroes found here.

Collaborating with Creative Edinburgh we ran an events programme to celebrate Scottish design alongside the exhibition during August/September. Make/Share Meets Local Heroes in Dundee focused on opportunities for designers through cultural tourism; and Made in Scotland in Edinburgh looked at the issues and opportunities for designers to produce work in Scotland.


8. Pecha Kucha Night turned 5!

The last Pecha Kucha Night of the year was held exactly 5 years to the day since our first event back on 8th Nov 2011 – so it was our 5th birthday! There were over 300 people there, hearing from 15 diverse speakers, enjoying cake and meeting people old and new. Over the last five years we’ve run 16 events, with 200 speakers and had 5,000 people joining, with many more tens of thousands tuning in online/watching the videos back, to hear local people talk about what they do.

PechaKucha, or ‘chit chat’ in Japanese, was developed by Klein Dytham Architecture, in Tokyo back in 2003 and now run all over the world – the last count was over 900 cities and growing. This was the fifth November that Dundee’s Pecha Kucha partnered with NEoN Digital Arts Festival. Watch the PKN archive videos here!


9. Light Bytes

Over 200 artists, technologists and cultural organisations joined us at Light Bytes events in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. Light Bytes was an exciting initiative to stimulate innovation with creative technology across the arts, screen and creative industries, through a partnership involving Creative Edinburgh, Creative Dundee and We Throw Switches, in association with Creative Scotland.

With demos, the opportunity to try out new tech, and a specialist panel; the events aimed to stimulate debate, thinking, risk and experimentation, and explore innovative ways of making the most of creative technology. Following the events, we launched some prototype micro funding – Curiosity Awards of up to £1,000 supported the development of six project ideas into small prototypes. We feel strongly about better connecting the arts/tech sectors in Scotland so it was a real pleasure to work on this project. You can read more about what happened at these events here.


10. European Creative Hubs Network

We’re an associate partner to Creative Edinburgh in the European Creative Hubs Network, a 2-year project. British Council is leading the work co-funded by the European Commission, in partnership with six European creative hubs – Bios  in Greece, Addict in Portugal, betahaus in Germany, Kulturni Kod/Nova Iskra in Serbia, Creative Edinburgh in UK and Factoria Cultural in Spain – and the European Business and Innovation Network.

Over the two year project they have calls for creative hubs to join them at Forums, or take part in Peer to Peer Study Visits, or you can upload your hub details to their map – if hubs are of interest then check out their website, sign up and find out more.


More collaborations afoot in 2017:

There are quite a few more highlights that we’ve not mentioned here, like speaking to a thousand Dundee & Angus College graduating students; running our regular monthly Make/Share events which are kindly hosted by The Beer Kitchen – a great place to chat about your work and hear about other people’s process of making things/things happen. Also speaking about Dundee at Belfast’s Culture Forum; being part of V&A Museum of Design Dundee’s Northern Lights project; and continuing to share and profile hundreds of articles about what you do online. Do keep sharing your news with us and we’ll keep spreading the word.

This coming year alongside doing what we do best, amplifying and connecting the creative scene, we are excited to explore how we can all work more closely with other sectors such as health and social care, tourism and social enterprises. One of our first projects is Boost by Design, a workshop and mentoring programme for social enterprises who are keen to increase their understanding of service design, innovation and digital skills to boost their sustainability and growth.


Previous Years in Review:

A snapshot of our previous years can be found here – 20152014 and 2013. Thanks for reading this feature, as a team of 1 full time and 2 part time folk, your interest, enthusiasm and encouragement is incredibly valuable to keep us all going! Have a great year, cheers, Gillian Easson, Director, Creative Dundee.



Title here