Creative Dundee

Our Year in Review 2017

It appears it is the end of 2017 and we can’t believe it’s also Creative Dundee’s 5th Year in Review! Of course 2018 is a particularly big year ahead for Dundee and it’s fair to assume that it’s unlikely the city will ever be quite the same again. That’s why we think it’s useful to pause now and reflect on some of the many things which already make Dundee and its vibrant communities stand out.

This year, we’ve enjoyed collaborating with others who share a similar vision of amplifying and connecting the city’s creativity; and working on a whole range of projects to make sure that Dundee is a good place to base, grow and sustain creative businesses.

Thanks as ever goes to all our friends, partners, collaborators, supporters, team, board and everyone else who continues to champion our small yet ambitious city.

Here’s a brief recap of some of the many things we’ve enjoyed making happen this year, in no particular order. Here’s to making sure that the transformations, aspirations and expectations come together with, by and for everyone in 2018.

1. Dundee’s Creative Industries Strategy 2017 – 2021

We’re really proud that following two years of discussions, consultations and development, Dundee’s Creative Industries Strategy 2017 – 2021 was launched in October 2017. Led by Creative Dundee on behalf of the city, it’s the first of it’s kind in Scotland; and the three key recommendations include: broadening routes into the creative industries from school, college and University; collaborating with other sectors to create greater impact; and developing innovative ways to share underused city spaces and resources.

You can find brief case studies under each of the recommendations online, with an ambitious yet realistic action plan to make the city’s sector stronger over the next five years. The Strategy can be viewed, downloaded, commented on, and even listened to as an audio podcast here:

2. Amps Supporters Network

Amps launched one year ago and now has 81 supporters and growing! The Amps supporters add their voice and support to make the city stronger for everyone – the network is brilliantly diverse and includes students and individuals, through to small and big companies – you can find out who they are here. We held two Amps Breakfasts at Urban Quarters, and Dundee Rep, to meet up and we even got the chance to go on a backstage tour – we have more meet ups planned for 2018…

Amps support has enabled Creative Dundee to do a number of things, like create a Pay it Forward model to enable people who might face a barrier to joining to join, we’ve captioned all of our original filmed content, themed our Make/Share events, and grown an innovative new Community Ideas Fund, a cash award each October to kick-start a new collaboration between two or more Amps to benefit Dundee. You can read more about the first great Amps Annual Forum and the first £400 Fund recipients, Gemma and Malath here! We hope that as more people become Amps supporters, the Fund continues to grow and helps many more brilliant collaborations over the years to come.

3. WRKSHP at Dundee Design Festival

WRSHP was a practical temporary work base for designers and makers to work from during Dundee Design Festival 2017, a place also to share their practice with other creative practitioners and festival visitors. WRKSHP featured a programme of practical workshops and demos by designers and makers, also providing workbenches and desktops for shared working. There were shelves packed with resources, materials, tools and machines that visitors were invited to delve into and start making. We also brought Make/Share to West Ward Works for the duration of the festival. It was great to work with recent DJCAD Graduate, Marsali Miller to design the space, which you can find out more about here.

Once again everyone enjoyed having Pecha Kucha Night back in WWW for the second year in a row during DDF, celebrating our UNESCO City of Design with more great speakers touching on topics like manufacturing in Detroit, through to forensics in Dundee. You can watch over 200 of our filmed PK talks in our library of videos here!

4. Dundee Soup

We collaborated with partners ACK and The Circle to run the first two Dundee Soup events this year, which give micro grants to local community based projects to make ideas a reality, over a simple soup supper dinner. Four people present at each Soup event, they have just five minutes to do this and the audience select the winning idea at the end of the night.

Soups now run all over the world, and was originally started in Detroit. So far Lifegate Tea Dance and Recovery Dundee have successfully gained micro-grant support. There’s such great community spirit at these events that during the first Dundee Soup in April, someone in the audience actually matched the grant on the night to support another project which didn’t win, and at the December event all four of the projects were given some cash by the very giving audience, again thanks to a great idea from someone in the audience. You can find out more about Dundee Soup here.

5. The MIX IN: Cultural Tourism

The MIX IN was an evening event designed to inspire and develop collaborations around cultural tourism across the Dundee and Angus region. Creative Dundee partnered with Scottish Enterprise to lead and host this event at Hospitalfield House in Arbroath. Hearing from a number of speakers on a range of cultural tourism topics, attendees discussed the issues and opportunities – current and future, urban and rural. The food and drink provided to everyone on the night was particularly amazing, which showed off the area’s natural produce – all prepared for us by Hospitalfield’s in-house chef.

With the significant increase in tourists expected to the area over the next few years, there’s a huge opportunity to make sure that the products and services are appealing to visitors coming to experience our vibrant cultural offer. You can read a profile of the type of visitors the region expects to see more of on Visit Scotland’s website here. Read more about The MIX IN and watch all the speaker’s presentations here.

6. Culture Connects 

As part of an exciting collaboration with Dundee Place Partnership, Creative Dundee has been carrying out research and consultation to find out more about where cultural activities are taking place across the city, what barriers there are, and what could be improved to help cultural access. Visiting community festivals, events, community hubs, out of school clubs and more across the city has ensured that we reach a huge number of people from a broad range of backgrounds. You can read more about the research here, with more to follow upon completion of the project in early 2018.

7. The Creating Care Forum

The Creating Care Forum was a one day workshop and platform exploring the opportunities of collaboration between healthcare and the creative industries. Produced in partnership between Creative Dundee, Creative Scotland and the Academic Health Science Partnership in Tayside, the day which was held last January featured exemplar case studies, discussions and practical workshop sessions, along with contributions from the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, to establish high level engagement between senior policy makers in both sectors. From this day new collaborations were formed and we look forward to hearing how these develop. Find out more about the project and read the Summary Report here.

8. Behind the Scenes Dundee

Dundee Contemporary Arts and Creative Dundee teamed up to offer a behind the scenes cultural tour of the city. Run as a pilot in May and September 2017, Behind the Scenes Dundee is a two-hour tour led by the Creative Dundee team which gives you the opportunity to take in four of the local cultural organisations – DCA, The Rep, The McManus and Fleet Collective. Filled with behind the scenes talks, tours and stories, this event provides the kind of insider knowledge you can only get from experiencing these spaces first-hand! Find out more here and we hope to be running more tours in 2018.

The tours build on our work creating 99 Things to See and Do in Dundee, the crowdsourced insiders guide to the city which we relaunched in 2017. We were thrilled this year that both Universities printed and gave thousands of copies of the guides to new freshers to help them navigate the city!

9. Boost by Design

BOOST by Design is a programme for 16 of Dundee’s social enterprises from all backgrounds keen to develop their understanding of service design, creative innovation and digital skills. Developed and led by Creative Dundee with support from Open Change, V&A Dundee and the UNESCO City of Design Team, the project included four half day workshops, design and digital mentoring and a final celebration event through a themed Boost by Design Make/Share. Find out more about the programme and read the final report which includes participants views and quotes on Boost here.

10. Creative Dundee Activities and Impacts research

We are always keen to know how we and the rest of the city are doing in providing useful events, resources and support for creative communities in and around Dundee. So we asked 100 people their views on what Creative Dundee currently offers, what we can improve in future, and what support would make people stay and thrive in Dundee. These results, which include promoting the city as an international creative hub, and encouraging cross-sector collaborations are really valuable for future planning. We are grateful to Perrine Mercenier who was with Creative Dundee on a 10 week internship from University of Liège, Belgium who led this research. You can read the full report shared hereWord cloud image below generated by asking: ‘Please describe Creative Dundee in three words’. The larger the word appears, the more it was proposed.

11. 20 Years of Video Games Powered by Pecha Kucha

Creative Dundee hosted a special Powered by Pecha Kucha event to celebrate two decades of Abertay University leading the world’s first video games education programmes in Dundee. The quick-fire talks held during the Digital Graduate Show in May included speakers from Dundee, Edinburgh, London, Montreal and Malmo. With hundreds of people joining us, this event gave profile to the vibrant video games sector, looked at the history, present and future of the games scene in a fun and informal way. Find out more about this event here.

12. Where Should Dundee be in 2053?

Dundee is a city in transition. It’s almost half way through its current 30 year waterfront transformation, which has seen dramatic alterations to the city’s physical surroundings; and significant global changes have influenced the ways we live, work and play over the last decades. Creative Dundee worked in partnership with Dundee 2023 to collectively imagine what the next thirty years on from this title should hold for the city and its residents. Topics explored on the night by speakers from a broad range of backgrounds included the future of: culture / living / working / money / love / health / environment / play / communication and more. Read more about the event here and videos of speaker’s presentations to follow in the new year.

13. European Creative Hubs Network

Dundee welcomed 40 delegates from the European Creative Hubs Network in October, including representatives from 17 countries including France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Latvia and Portugal. The European visitors spent time in Dundee exploring the city’s creative hubs and participating in the two-day skills workshop in Edinburgh, organised by Creative Edinburgh in partnership with Creative Dundee.

The intention of the Future Skills workshop was to strengthen creative hub leadership by exploring the future role of creative hubs and strategies for future-proofing. It brought together a community of hub leaders to Scotland for peer-learning and ongoing peer-support, exchange and best-practice sharing. If you are part of a creative hub, check out the ECHN website, add yourself to the network map and apply to join the final conference in Brussels in 2018.


Final thoughts… We also hosted 10 Make/Share events throughout 2017, where we heard from a number of great speakers and brought people together to share the processes behind what they do. Each event now has a theme, thanks to Claire’s brilliant co-ordination and although we have a January break please do join us at the next Make/Share on 13 Feb 2018 on the topic of Sustainable Making.

You can also read Sam’s round up of the year’s digital features here, and read/watch the excellent original content he has produced for Creative Dundee here.

Although most of our work is based in Dundee, in terms of our tiny team reaching out, we also hosted delegations from Tech Nation in London; were part of a panel at the Times Scotland event; we spoke about Dundee in Bandung, Indonesia; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Saint Etienne, France; Manila, Philippines; Madrid, Spain; and Eindhoven, Netherlands. We also enjoyed working with the core European Capital of Culture 2023 team, the unsung heroes of this year, and although Brexit bulldozed all chances of any UK city gaining the 2023 title at an unprofessional last minute, we know there will be many more good things to come.

If you’d like to read our previous Year in Reviews, you can find each year’s linked up on this page.


Looking ahead… We’ve already got a number of plans coming together which we’ll be sharing in the new year, and the big event for your calendar is Pecha Kucha Night Vol 20 on Monday 26 February 2018, details to follow in January (register for our news mail out to hear about tickets first), also the first time to be held at Dundee Rep!


Thanks again for all of your support, wisdom and laughs – we couldn’t, and wouldn’t want to do it without you.



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