Creative Dundee

Creative Dundee: Making Community in Uncertainty

In the world’s slowest yet strangest blink, it’s now August! As our city and its cultural venues reopen, we’re excited to launch Creative Dundee’s new website. Dundee has undoubtedly felt very odd over the last 5 months, but life and work has continued on, just in different ways.

Cultural and creative freelancers, organisations and businesses have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. The challenges for people in these sectors over the coming months and years ahead can’t be overestimated. Yet, the collective leadership and action by artists, makers and cultural organisations during these times has demonstrated the critical importance of resilient cultural ecologies.   

One of our core missions is connecting creative communities and we’ve really missed the physical elements of our work over the last few months – making things happen with people in real life. But our work has continued, as committed to connection and collaboration as ever. Here are some of the ways we’ve been keeping connected and also what we’re looking forward to next…

Our Amps breakfasts were the first events we took online at the very start of lockdown and these weekly meetups have proved a valuable network to come together, be inspired, share challenges/hope and see inside fellow Amps temporary workspaces and/or kitchens! It really has felt like the space to check in and look out for each other. 

Online, we’ve continued sharing your news and opportunities, signposted to emergency funds and shared original features from contributors on a range of topics impacted by lockdown, from the challenges of parenting in lockdown to struggling to find space for creativity to imagining shared urban spaces.

Our Fabric programme was run entirely online for the first time, which included a virtual visit to The Stove Network. To echo feedback from a participant, ‘it was really valuable to get together with inspiring people during these crazy times and take time to think about the future rather than just constantly worrying about the present’. Back in 2016, the first Fabric group forecasted Dundee’s creative scene in 2020, and although no one could predict a global pandemic, their findings are still relevant today and helped form Dundee’s first Creative Industries Strategy.

Along with being part of city-wide recovery plan groups, and advocating for the role of culture for recovery nationally; we relaunched We Dundee in May, collaborating with UNESCO City of Design Dundee. The platform has crowdsourced lockdown sentiments and explores the future of the city, collectively. There is still time to respond to the current question ‘Reimagine Dundee. What needs to happen next?’ before all views are fed into the city’s recovery planning, so please add, create and share your views before it closes. 

During a time of significant social injustices and rife systemic racism, we know there is much more our organisation can do to improve our practices. Our team and our Board have been reflecting on the role we have to play within these very local issues, including a hard look at our own structures and practices. We have further increased our focus on amplifying the voices of those who are underrepresented within the creative sector and our city and we pledge to do more.

As a direct result of this, we’ve reconsidered staff roles to increase our focus and action on equity and inclusion. And through refreshing our internal culture, we’ve also recently become a 4 day week organisation to positively impact our team. 

As a small social enterprise, we are fortunate to receive a percentage of regular grant funds, however like many we also have to rethink our trading income, as most has gone for the time being. We’re reframing and reimagining what the next few years might look like – and how Creative Dundee can support the creative sector and provide opportunities in the short, medium and long term.

We’re observing the insights, mapping the needs of creative/cultural practitioners and exploring the new types of partnerships required for sustaining practice. We’ll continue to connect and we absolutely aim to create opportunities for independent practitioners wherever we possibly can. Although it’s tricky to forecast exactly right now, our programme is shaping up to include: 

We are keen to collaborate with partners to explore and amplify the contribution that culture and creativity makes to areas including: equity and inclusion, mental health and wellbeing, sharing economy, and climate justice. If you are working in these spaces – locally, nationally or internationally – then let’s talk! 

We hope you find the new website and its features useful and enjoyable – including Our Story, where we share a bit more about the Creative Dundee journey so far. Thanks to our team and Agency of None for the website design/build and patience with our years of content! 

Thanks as always for visiting our site, engaging with our activities and collectively making sure that culture and creativity continues to be key in Dundee. 

We’re looking forward to seeing you in person again, soon! 

Until then, keep in touch. 

Team CD (Andy, Claire, Gillian and Sam)

Thank you for visiting

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