Creative Dundee

Fifteen Years of Creative Dundee

PechaKucha Night Dundee Vol.30, photographed by Holly Quinn

Creative Dundee celebrated a double milestone in November 2023 with our 15th year anniversary and the 30th edition of PechaKucha Night Dundee!

After starting life as a blog in 2008, Creative Dundee has played a significant role in Dundee’s creative and cultural identity over the last 15 years. Amplifying and harnessing creativity as a catalyst for collective good, as a social enterprise we’ve so far ensured the investment of £1,000,000 into Dundee projects and creative practitioners.

Projects which we’ve led on behalf of the city include: crowdsourcing platform We Dundee; the 99 Things to See and Do in Dundee Guide, packed with recommendations by people who live in the city and love it; Fair Growing Green at Fairmuir Park; and being part of the core UNESCO City of Design Dundee bid team who secured the designation for the city in 2014. 

Our blog was originally launched in January 2008, created by our co-founders during the global recession as a way to better connect creative freelancers and businesses, while giving much-needed visibility to events and creative people in the city. Since then, Creative Dundee has been built by, with and for Dundee’s active creative community.

Gillian Easson, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Creative Dundee said:

 “Starting Creative Dundee as a blog 15 years ago, I never dreamt we’d reach this milestone! We’ve very much grown with Dundee and its vibrant creative community, by rooting, listening and acting on what we hear, see and feel to support and better equip people and our place.

“Now as a small yet ambitious social enterprise of 6 brilliant staff and a voluntary board, we’re super connected to partners at home and internationally – Creative Dundee’s work is locally significant and globally relevant, further demonstrating that investment in culture creates wide and wise value, generating multiple benefits for many.”

During its first five years, 10 contributors updated the Creative Dundee blog with news and activities. Johanna Basford, the internationally renowned illustrator who studied in Dundee, was our first regular contributor. We were thrilled to invite Johanna to speak at the 30th PechaKucha Night, a decade after her first appearance when she was just growing her own business. 

As a small and independent team, Creative Dundee has grown despite challenging economic and social times. Our projects continue to offer opportunities, visibility and connection to ensure creativity and collaboration are central to a Just Transition, equity for all, and improving mental health and wellbeing.

Working collaboratively, we create spaces to build collective voice and power, strengthening Dundee’s creative community to help them imagine, act and create a more sustainable, optimistic tomorrow that benefits people and our place.

Our current work includes running an active digital platform, highlighting the work of individuals and grassroot organisations to ensure they are seen and heard; our Amps network of people, projects and organisations who actively support creativity in Dundee; and CULTIVATE, which places artists and designers at the heart of climate justice, developing action with communities across the Tay region.

We’ve recently announced two new projects. Hapworks aims to develop a network of creative spaces across the city, addressing the challenge that a lack of space is limiting the growth of Dundee’s creative sector, and Dundee’s Changemakers Hub, designed by a collective of five organisations: Transition Dundee, The Maxwell Centre, ScrapAntics, Uppertunity and Creative Dundee. Coming together to ensure that Dundee’s communities are leading the charge for change on climate related issues.  

To date we’ve commissioned 446 local freelancers and businesses, creating multiple social and economic benefits for the creative community, local residents, visitors and partners. 

Our team have worked on 1,260 local, national and international partnerships, including community and cultural partners Dundee City Council and Creative Scotland, through to partnerships in Europe, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Romania and Ukraine. More than 20,000 people have engaged with our events, programmes and activities. 

We’ve seen our work and wider impact noted within UK research by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, Creative Industries Sector Vision 2023, Scottish Parliament and the UK’s Climate Change Committee.  

More than 450 people heard from 10 speakers at PechaKucha Night Dundee Vol. 30 this week. As well as Johanna Basford, other speakers included: Chris Kelly of Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust; Hannah Hegarty of Hot Chocolate Trust’s community of young people; Tom Bird, a Dundee based spoken-word poet, writer and artist; and Sahdia Khurshid, a design enthusiast who has lived in Copenhagen, Pakistan and now Dundee. 

PechaKucha Night (PKN) is a global event which we’ve hosted since 2011. PKN now runs in more than 1,300 cities around the world. It’s a simple quick-fire, democratic format where speakers show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. Dundee is the largest regular PKN event in the UK.  

“Creativity is essential for our collective future and like Dundee itself, Creative Dundee is resourceful and values strength over scale; we’re always in the process of learning, understanding and evolving our activities, to positively impact the city’s cultural and creative life. 

“Dundee is a really special place, with an incredible grassroot scene. Despite the significant challenges facing everyone, communities really turn out and make action happen together to benefit the collective good. We’re really grateful to the 20,000+ people we’ve met along the way, who turn up to support each other and truly show the ‘Dundee-way’, thank you!”

Read more about our story over the last fifteen years and discover all the wonderful partnerships we’ve cultivated along the way.

Fifteen years of Creative Dundee is celebrated with special thanks to:

Our team
Andy Truscott, Claire Dufour, Eilish Victoria, Freya Barcroft, Gillian Easson, Jen Collins.

Former team members:
Andrew McDiarmid, Darcy Tayler, Jordan Butler, Katja Steel Kusáková, Laura McSorley, Lori Anderson, Marsali Miller, Perrine Mercenier, Rhia Cook, Ross Crawford, Sam Gonçalves, Steph Liddle, Susie Buchan

Our board: 
Gill Donoghue (Chair), Anzal Baig, Dave Close, Jason Nelson, Maryam Deeni, Richard Neville, Sorcha Pringle.

Former Board Directors:
Claire Dow (Former Chair), Chris Trewartha, Claire D’All, Ed Broughton, Heather Cassidy, Ian Abbott, Louise Dickson, Lyall Bruce, Pete Thomas, Piers Duplock, Rachel Williamson, Richard Meiklejohn, Suzanne Kerr.

Special thanks for support in Creative Dundee’s early days: 
Barry Strachan, Donna Holford-Lovell, Georgia Yates, Hazel Saunderson, Hilary Grant, Jennie Patterson, Johanna Basford, Lorri Smyth, Morbhen Rattray, Nikki McWilliams, Raz Ullah, Richard Foley, Sharyn Farnan, Stewart Murdoch. 

Our partners: 
Creative Scotland and Dundee City Council.

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