9th February, 4:00pm on Zoom
What if creative practitioners had better access to spaces and tools in our city? How would this create new collaborations, opportunities for communities across Dundee and help ideas to flourish? What could our city look like?
For me, harnessing creativity and culture is essential for the future of our cities. Beyond the traditional ideas of designing and making, creative practitioners facilitate participation in inclusive city-making, enabling others to imagine, connect and create. Instead of creative regeneration limited to the development of “innovation hubs” or “enterprise incubators” we need it embedded in our streets, civic spaces and neighbourhoods; allowing creative practitioners to break out of their silos and invite others in. At a time when we face huge challenges in our cities and society, this allows us to make creative processes more visible and accessible so we can better equip everyone with the skills and tools to make change happen.
One of the biggest barriers to achieving this is having accessible creative spaces for people to come together, share ideas, and develop solutions collectively. Through our work at Creative Dundee we continually hear from creatives about the limitations they face due to a lack of space; to make, collaborate, host events, perform, consult with groups or share their work. The options that are available are, for many, unaffordable, inaccessible or extremely limited in capacity resulting in long waiting lists. People are forced to work from home making it even more challenging to connect with peers and reach audiences, and for many even working from home is not an option.
As Agency of None discussed in detail in their podcast series and blog post No Space for Design, creative spaces as enterprises in their own right struggle to survive due to the costs of maintaining a permanent space and the resources needed to run it. Furthermore these spaces are often run by fellow creative practitioners or collectives on top of their existing practice.
Temporary spaces are sometimes offered as a meanwhile solution and can be an accessible way to test ideas, reach new audiences and occupy a physical space in the city without the commitment of a lease. However, they are too often the only option for those seeking a longer term solution. They lack security, make it difficult to invest in the spaces, and the labour that goes into moving around from temporary location to temporary location is considerable and unpaid. Experimental and dynamic creative spaces bring new, engaged audiences and contribute positively to the regeneration of the street or neighbourhood. Often this is the reason these spaces become attractive to new tenants and while this benefits them and the landlord, the creative enterprise has to move on and rebuild a community elsewhere.
Alongside this, cities are desperately looking at ways to revitalise their city centres and high streets with retail and hospitality in decline. Main streets are lined with vacant units, owned by overseas investors and absent landlords who have no interest in the future of the city. In the absence of national retailers could we reclaim these as new participatory spaces to showcase creativity and culture and open it up to a participatory audience? This would bring new life to our city centres, and position them once again as active, civic spaces, supporting local growth and economies.
Dundee City Council recently released their City Centre Strategic Investment Plan which proposes a more vibrant city centre that serves local people, promotes health and wellbeing and positions Dundee as an exciting destination for visitors. Importantly the plan recognises the role which creativity and cultures plays in the city’s development.
We know a number of great space projects have happened in the past and many are currently taking place in the city which positively impact creative space issues. This year we are excited to complement these, by exploring what types of spaces are most valuable to creative communities and to work with partners to develop a collective vision for creative space across the city. As the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design, Dundee can better show its commitment to creativity and culture visibly by providing access to physical spaces for creative exchange which not only shows that design and creativity is valued but demonstrates the positive impact it can have on cities and communities.
We would love you to be a part of this project. Get in touch with Eilish if you would like to discuss your ideas for creative space in the city or have a space you think could support creative collaborations.
Join the conversation online on Thursday 9th February between 4.00pm and 5.30pm to find out more about our aims for the project, hear from other creatives in the city, be inspired by projects happening elsewhere and join in the discussion about the future of creative spaces in Dundee.
Ryan McLeod runs Agency of None alongside Lyall Bruce and Noni Farragher-Hanks. They are a design studio committed to broadening the understanding of design and helping Dundee’s design community to grow. Alongside projects working with well known partners such as Mozilla, British Council, V&A Dundee, Academy Music and Creative UK they produced the 2019 & 2021 Dundee Design Festivals. Last year, they released a podcast series called ‘No Space for Design’ exploring the different facets and complexities of developing and maintaining creative spaces across the UK.
Kirsty Hilda Cameron is an illustrator, writer, professional facilitator and host based in Aberdeen. Her work both focuses on themes of comfort, connection and home. She mainly explores these themes through events at businesses Second Home Studio + Cafe, and Ritual + Play, occasionally picking up a fine liner to sketch or write. Through her work at Second Home, Kirsty aims to do her bit in empowering and expanding the creative community in Aberdeen. This is achieved through art classes, exhibition and teaching opportunities, and most recently through a large scale retail regeneration project entitled, DEPARTMNT.
Due to University strike action, Dr Emma Coffield will no longer be able to join us for the event. You can find info on Emma’s work at the links below and we hope to have another opportunity to hear more from her soon.
Dr Emma Coffield is a Lecturer in Museum, Gallery, and Heritage Studies in the School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University. Her research focuses on artist-run/led initiatives and forms of self-organisation in the arts, meanwhile space provision, and student understandings of employability in the Cultural and Creative Industries. Emma’s work is often collaborative and transdisciplinary. She has led the More Than Meanwhile Spaces / Making the Clayton Street Corridor projects since 2018, which aim to foster long-term, co-developed futures for grassroots art initiatives by empowering artists and creative practitioners to engage with arts policy. Emma teaches on a wide variety of mainly post-graduate programmes and PhD-level study.
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