As we step further into an apparently post-pandemic world, 2022 has proved to be another complex year of change. While reflecting on the creative joy we’ve shared this year, we’re all too aware of the continued hardships facing our community and city, and know that for many this usually celebratory season will be a difficult one.
In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, the continued power of collective action has never been more evident. Local networks and community groups continue to be a beacon of positivity and support across Dundee, and we’ve delighted in a year of ‘getting back out there’; relishing in reconnection and widening the circle of our creative reach.
Our online Amps Breakfasts continued this year as a notable bright-spot in our regular schedule, offering a moment to come together, share, learn and connect in whatever way our Tuesday morning found us. In March, we celebrated the two year milestone for these online events and to mark the occasion invited some of the network to creatively capture the spirit of Amps Breakfast. These micro-commissions resulted in a selection of wonderfully diverse works all celebrating community and connection in their own unique way.
To amplify the impacts of those facilitating creativity in the city as well as the passion that they pour into everything they do, we commissioned Bonnie MacRae to produce a film highlighting some of the very many Dundee-based creative practitioners who work with local communities—a testament to the transformative effects of creativity on mental health and wellbeing. Our new long-form interview series, Collectives in the City, shone a spotlight on projects, organisations and collectives across Dundee with a DIY or grassroots approach. We heard their stories from idea to action, highlighting a creative scene firmly rooted in community.
Alongside UNESCO City of Design Dundee, we were delighted to welcome a visiting party from Cebu City of Design in the Philippines. It was wonderful to host international visitors in the city again, seeing Dundee fresh through their eyes and exploring the connections between our places and what we can learn from each other.
This summer, we came together with the University of Dundee and the people of Fairmuir to build a new community-led growing space, Fair Growing Green. The project was part of Dandelion – a community based growing project which supported the build of 13 Unexpected Gardens around Scotland – and together we transformed a disused public bowling green into a thriving community space.
Throughout the summer, we worked with creatives and local businesses on commissions and events to bring the garden to life. There were immersive music workshops to explore the sounds of the garden, evening skill sessions on propagation, foraging and more, weekly lunches, and a final Harvest event which welcomed over 250 people to the garden to celebrate all the community had achieved.
It was hugely rewarding for us to see the local community take ownership of the space and make it their own. It has opened up creativity and learning to new people, offering a free, welcoming space for anyone to find confidence, inspiration and belonging. We can’t wait to see how Fair Growing Green continues to grow and feed the community’s imagination.
Following the announcement of our first round of CULTIVATE Creative Practitioners in 2021, this year we were delighted to share the impacts of their projects. The Creative Practitioners have facilitated engaging, safe and creative spaces for conversations around climate justice. The case studies highlight the diversity of the approaches to the commissions – from gigs in a garden to a community created tea set – and the clear value of working creatively and collaboratively with groups on the fringes.
As we began the application process for the next stage of CULTIVATE, we held two events for our #CultivateTay Climate Justice series. These events aimed to be an open space for local communities to gather and share stories of creative responses to climate change challenges faced by marginalised communities across the Tay region.
At the event in Dundee, we gathered at the Dudhope Multicultural Centre for an evening centred on diversity and climate justice. We shared food, music and discussed collective action, community wellbeing and the amazing things that happen when different cultures come together. In Forfar, we turned our attention to issues of poverty, coming together at S-Mart and The Little Green Café to hear stories of grassroots responses to poverty-stigma and to reflect on the unique challenges facing rural towns.
We’re committed to pushing these conversations further, to widening the circle of those involved in climate action, and we’re excited for what the future holds as we look to announce our next CULTIVATE Creative Practitioner commissions early in the new year.
One of the defining aspects of our year was the joy in returning more consistently to in-person events and work.
In June, we took to V&A Dundee for Sound: Designed in Dundee; an evening exploring the distinct impact of sound on our wellbeing. In partnership with InGAME, the event combined talks from local sound artists/designers and live performance with an opportunity to experience the VR sound performance project, Sound of Light. The event forged a real sense of togetherness and connection, and it was wonderful to take the time and space needed to reconnect in this way.
Beyond our Amps Breakfasts, we also came together again for our first in-person Amps events in over two years with two Amps Meet-Ups, a special event at Fair Growing Green, and wrapping up the year with our 2022 Amps Forum and the awarding of the £2,500 Community Ideas Fund – enabled by the subscriptions of our brilliant network. We were so happy to see everyone together again throughout the year, bringing the connections made online back into spaces across our city.
PechaKucha returned to Dundee twice this year! During LGBTQ+ History Month, we hosted a special digital iteration in partnership with OutFest. We were joined by speakers from the LGBTQ+ community who spoke about a topic that mattered to them, from costume and drag, to a celebration of transgender joy in sport.
Then towards the end of the year we returned to the Rep stage for a sold out PechaKucha Night vol. 29. The evening was a resounding celebration of creativity in all its forms and the talks were threaded together by themes of introspection, collective action, and community support. As always, to everyone who attended in person or watched from home, we are incredibly grateful for your support in making these events happen.
On a more personal note for the Creative Dundee team, we ended our year with a new office space and home at DCA! The team is already feeling the benefits and loving a settled space to gather and collaborate.
As we move into the new year, our mind will remain on issues of space in the city, and though we now find ourselves more settled, we know that for many in Dundee this continues to be a trying topic.
While space is not the only difficulty troubling the creative and cultural sector, it does make other hardships feel more pronounced, and we are all acutely aware of the broader community’s need for a safe and warming place to take comfort in in the current climate.
In the face of this, we can only be strengthened by a year that has shown again the wonder of the creative, collective action we find ourselves a part of. Every event, project, artwork, or moment we have enjoyed together in 2022 builds a picture of a city and community deeply committed to supporting each other through whatever is yet to come.
If you would like to see more of our work from this year, we encourage you to have a read of our Annual Activities Overview, illustrated by Giorgos Asvestas, and until we meet again in 2023 – thank you for all your continued support.
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