A dynamic, varied nine-month programme of small-scale arts and cultural events has been launched to bring Dumfries & Galloway Together Again.
The initiative will see grassroots events and activities staged in towns and villages all across one of Scotland’s most rural regions – helping promote social and economic recovery in an area that has been deeply affected by the pandemic.
It will feature everything from a Feastival of shared meals and LGBTQ events to performances on a tall ship. It embraces live music, theatre, dance, literature, film and community activities (see below).
The Together Again season is organised by the independent arts organisation DG Unlimited and sees £42,403 of funding from Dumfries & Galloway Council and its own resources being invested in nearly two dozen projects between now and April 2022.
It launched this weekend with the opening of the Annan History Town Summer Festival.
Stephen Lacey, Chair of DG Unlimited, said: “Together Again is all about bringing communities safely together again through the arts and creativity as we emerge from the pandemic.
“Dumfries and Galloway has a brilliant cultural offer with exceptional talents in all arts disciplines and this is something we want to celebrate.”
Together Again champions the vital role that creativity and culture plays in our lives, how it connects people, contributes to the region’s economy, and promotes community cohesion and individual wellbeing.
Stephen went on to add: “Together Again will provide a much-needed dollop of wellbeing in the heart of our communities. And it will send a positive message across the region and beyond, that we are open and that we welcome visitors.”
Annan Town History Group is staging the summer festival to provide fun and entertainment for residents and tourists.
This weekend saw society members hold a launch event featuring members dressed as characters linked to its past, including Suffragettes, St Machar, the murderer and body snatcher William Burke and Robert the Bruce. Nationally acclaimed poet and writer Hugh McMillan opened the event with a specially written humorous poem about the town (see below). There were also songs from Shaunie Craig (16), of Ecclefechan, who attends Lockerbie Academy.
Later on in the festival there will be a performance by classical musician Alex McQuiston.
Absolute Classics, which is run by Alex has also received funding towards workshops and a performance by world-renowned percussionist Rhys Matthews.
Richard Brodie, the history group’s Chair, said: “It’s been a difficult time for Annan and we wanted to give people something to smile about. At the same time we wanted to do something that would attract more visitors to come and spend some time here – enjoy the town, its shops, eating places and its history.”
Together Again forms an important part of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Festivals and Events Strategy 2021/22.
Councillor Adam Wilson, the Council’s Events Champion said: “Dumfries and Galloway is bursting with creative talents and creative performers. The Together Again arts season is alive with new ideas and fun, participative and imaginative ways to enjoy new artistic work and take part in workshops and even to visit live performances on a ship in Palnackie.
“I’m thrilled that DG Unlimited, with council funding support, has been able to bring together such a fantastic arts season to help individuals and communities move on from the COVID-19 related lockdowns.”
- Other creative events and activities are also being invited to contact DG Unlimited and join up to become part of Together Again – badging their activities with its logo and helping send out the message that Dumfries and Galloway is a great place to enjoy arts and culture.
What you can enjoy from Together Again
Thee season is being delivered in person and online in towns and villages from Stranraer to Dumfries to Annan. The full list of funded events can be found here. They include:
- Feastival – bringing artists and communities in the Glenkens together through shared meals, conversation, and performance. Incorporating street-performance and presentation of Townsend Theatre’s touring theatre horsebox shows and hosting artists lunches.
- Local artists Emma Jayne Park, Grant Dinwoodie and Kate Howard, are part of a wider engagement project for STORM, a large outdoor puppet that will walk the streets of Dumfries.
- Land – A community engagement and performance event on and around the tall ship La Malouine at Palnackie. The event will herald the beginning of the COP 26 UN climate change conference in Glasgow and will engage local audiences with environmental themes through community workshops, music, participatory performance and conversation.
- A reimagined version of And Then Come The Nightjars by Bea Roberts at the Fullerton Theatre, Crossmichael.
- Creative writing workshops at and in Mill on the Fleet.
- Wigtown CommuniTEA Weekend – A tea trail through Wigtown’s cafes and bookshops.
- Playing Together – dance theatre from Andre Anderson about the power of play, imagination and socialising with others.
- Alive and Kicking! a regular cabaret night of local talent at The Market Inn, Castle Douglas.
- A programme of LGBTQ events that will test the feasibility of rural queer cultural programmes in Dumfries & Galloway.
- Watering Grassroots – poetry workshops aimed at older participants and a poetry reading at the Bakehouse for Winners in the Autumn Voices poetry competition.
- A three-day Christmas ghost story takeover event of Moat Brae house and garden.
Picture by Colin Hattersley.
Notes for editors
About DG Unlimited
- See https://www.dgunlimited.com/together-again1.html
- DG Unlimited (also known as DGU) is the day-to-day operating name of Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of the Arts. DG Unlimited is an independent arts organisation established in 2012, becoming a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation in 2013.
- DG Unlimited has a Service Level Agreement with Dumfries and Galloway Council to provide advice, proposals and recommendations for consideration by the Council when commissioning arts services in the region.
- It is a membership organisation with over 500 members. Membership of DG Unlimited is free and open to anyone with an interest in the arts.
- DG Unlimited champions, advocates and supports the arts in every part of Dumfries and Galloway by working closely with artists, creative practitioners and stakeholders to provide a strong and independent voice for the region’s creative sector.
- DG Unlimited’s vision is “To make Dumfries and Galloway the destination place, where all artists and arts organisations want to live, work and make a living.”
- DG Unlimited’s mission is “We seek to create Scotland’s leading rural arts network by supporting creative practitioners and organisations to help themselves and each other; providing a collective voice; celebrating and nurturing talent; and growing the next generation of creative practitioners.”
Annan History Festival – By Hugh McMillan
Named after the goddess Ann-
a Celtic spirit or sprite –
they named the town Annan
(she was so good they named it twice)
like New York except smaller
but more packed with history,
kings and thugs and suffragettes
a hub of tales and mystery,
a port, a fort, a place of war,
a town where scholars met
where body snatchers went to earth
but from where the youngsters left
for bread or wars or distant shores,
and though many never returned
they left some mark or mettle
wherever their life paths turned
because although we all go on
about people who’ve earned some fame,
your Burns your Bruce your Flora Murray,
it’s the ones without a name,
the throng of so called ordinary folk,
the working men and women,
who gave this place its backbone.
Though their names might be missing
from libraries or park benches,
it’s them you’ve got to thank
for Annan’s long existence,
for this whole festival in fact.
So here’s to them the faceless ones
who quietly spent their days
on life and love, and along the way
made actual history.