As we find ourselves into 2019 we have been reflecting on the year gone by and the year ahead.
It has been an exciting year for Creative Dundee. We hosted our largest ever Pecha Kucha Night Dundee Vol.24 at the Caird Hall in May with record audiences of 800+! On the same night, we launched Pass the Mic, our publication outlining the history of Creative Dundee and its relationship to our city. We were delighted to lead the development and delivery of Hubs for Good, a capacity building programme for creative hub leaders across Malaysia; and were pleased to host a Pecha Kucha Night for Abertay University as part of their 25th Anniversary celebrations. We have continued to work with partners and develop new collaborations that benefit the city’s creative sector and communities. It was also a year of change for Team Creative Dundee with Gillian and Claire taking some leave in the middle of the year and Lori and Katja joining the team.
Here is a look back at some of the team’s highlights of 2019 and what we are looking forward to in 2020.
Having watched Dundee’s emergence as a vibrant creative city with admiration from afar, I was delighted to join the team in early July. I have been overwhelmed by the warm welcome that I have received, and I would like to thank everyone that has reached out and helped my introduction to the city. There is no doubt that Dundee’s creative sector is thriving, it is diverse, inspiring, has a social conscience, is collaborative and very generous. I had heard talk of the ‘Dundee way’ and am pleased to say I have witnessed it firsthand and am smitten.
My introduction to Dundee Soup, our micro-financing soup supper dinner event which raises money for community initiatives in Dundee, was at DJCAD, who hosted the event for the first time in September. In collaboration with our partner, The Circle, we have now raised over £2K thanks to the public’s generosity. Based on the successful Detroit Soup model, with a Dundee twist, the event has rotated across various venues throughout the city. The evening brings people together from different communities to pitch their ideas, meet, share their stories and make new friends. I found the event to be inspiring and the mood is as warm and comforting as the tasty soup. Our monthly News Mail Out will have the dates of the 2020 events, and you can find out more about taking part in Dundee Soup here.
Dundee’s reputation continues to grow as a city that puts creativity at its heart. Creative Dundee has been invited to visit Yokohama in late January, to share the creative journey of Dundee and our work in support of its creative industries. We would love this visit to lead to some collaborations between creative industries in Dundee and Japan. May will see us host another Small Society Lab event, this time with Kobe in Japan, as part of the Scotland x Japan programme of cultural activities. More information will be released soon but this will be an exciting opportunity to make connections with Japan and consider some significant challenges facing our cities and our communities.
I remember seeing Mara Menzies, the incomparable storyteller, on the stage at Pecha Kucha leading 800+ people through a call and response exercise. She’d say, ‘What would you sound like if you were shocked’ and the whole audience gasped, perfectly in sync, ‘what if you saw something cute’ we all awed along and immediately started laughing.
I always felt like the special thing about Pecha Kucha in Dundee was the fact so many people can come together, so consistently, for something that is completely different every time. We all take a big leap together and get to feel truly connected on the way down a rabbit hole of entertainment, inspiration, and truth. Pecha Kucha Night Vol.24 at the Caird Hall, during the Dundee Design Festival, was no different. Featuring incredible speakers like Ged Grimes, Mara Menzies and Annie Marrs, we got to see the full breadth of the PKN audience and take over a completely different space in the city. What a night!
PS: This event also had the most nerve-racking/hilarious backstage tech issue I’ve ever experienced – be sure to ask me or Andy about it when you get a chance…
This year we will continue to develop some original content commissions from young makers in Dundee, a project I’ve been working on for the last few months and can’t wait till we can properly share everything being produced. Well paid commissions to recent graduates are tough to come by, but vitally important for those starting out in their career. Through this project, we’ll be able to make some of those available in Dundee and consequently showcase exciting new talent in the city.
Dundee is a city that does collaboration so well. Do you have an idea? Start talking about it and you will soon find people that can point you in the right way, help you or even join you on the journey! Dundee is always here for creative projects big or small. And this is the strength that Amps Community Ideas Fund draws on. Community Ideas Fund is a cash prize that helps to kick-start a new collaboration between two or more creatives to benefit Dundee. It is made possible thanks to the incredible Amps Network – 50% of Amps contributions go towards the fund and Amps decide which project to give the funding to. This October, they have awarded £1,600 to Put Your Stamp on Dundee, a collaborative project between illustrators Louise Kirby, Pamela Scott, Laura Darling-Brackenridge and Suzanne Scott. I found the Community Ideas Fund to be a great way of funding exciting new things that our community wants to see happen in the city.
After the successful Typography Treasure Hunt that won last year, I really look forward to what Put Your Stamp on Dundee will set out to do. Join the Amps Network and who knows, you can be the next one to have your collaborative project funded!
I am a gamer. I have always been fascinated by games, interactive narratives and I am not ashamed to admit I’ve spent some amount of time playing games. But I also enjoy learning more about them. This is why I find the InGAME Insights that Creative Dundee is preparing in collaboration with InGAME in 2020 so exciting. InGAME Insights are regular gatherings, aiming to bring the city’s world-class Creative Industries and Game Industries together in an informal, relaxed setting.
Each of the gatherings will focus on a particular topic presented by an industry professional, and the fascinating micro talk will no doubt spark many interesting discussions in the room. The first InGAME Insight on 30 January with Lynda Clark will focus on AI for Writers and how writers can use it in a creative way. Chatting with AIs can not only be an entertaining diversion in and of itself, these uncanny conversations can also provide creative inspiration. Furthermore, harnessing the power of AI via specialist writing tools can lead to new forms of non-linear interactive fiction. Fascinating, right? Also, have I mentioned there will be free beer and pizza? Book your space for January’s event now or keep an eye out for the ones coming in February, March and April!
A highlight for me in 2019 was the Fabric programme that Creative Dundee delivered which saw participants from within the cultural sector in Dundee come together to share work and practice, find space for reflection and explore the idea of creative leadership in a small city through a series of workshops delivered by different partners. Although I missed the first session in December 2018 (I was on my honeymoon!), I was able to take part in the following sessions which included a Diversity & Equalities workshop with Hot Chocolate Trust and UNESCO City of Design Dundee in January, a session on Digital with Biome Collective and a tour of games company Ninja Kiwi in February, a trip up to Alyth for a tour of the Cateran EcoMuseum and finally a workshop with Carol Sinclair looking at Peer Mentoring in June.
This year will hopefully be another year where we continue to see the growth of the Amps community. Last saw our biggest Community Ideas Fund Award to date of £1,600 go to a collaboration between four illustrators! It will be great to see their project ‘Put Your Stamp on It’ being delivered later in the year and to see what new projects come forward for the award in October.
We are looking forward to an exciting year ahead as we enter the new decade. We are now over halfway through the delivery of the Creative Industries Strategy and much has been achieved. We are starting to look beyond 2021 and look forward to working with you on shaping the next phase. Creative Dundee’s partnership with InGame will see the first of our monthly get-togethers begin on 30 January and there is still time to sign up. We have some fascinating speakers lined up and they are not to be missed.
Pecha Kucha Night Vol. 26 is on Monday 24 February 2020 at Dundee Rep Theatre. As the Pecha Kucha format has presenters showing 20 images, each for 20 seconds, 2020 is a reason for fans of PKN to celebrate. We look forward to marking 2020 with the global Pecha Kucha family, so stand by for multiple 2020 puns! February’s line up will be announced soon (register for our news mail out to hear about tickets first and join Amps to get discount rate tickets).
Thanks again to everyone for a fantastic year, here’s to a new decade and 2020!