Get to know: Creative Dundee

Back in 2008, Gillian Easson identified a curious issue: there were lots of creative and engaging things happening in Dundee, but there wasn't a single, purposeful platform dedicated to promoting them.

And so, Creative Dundee was born as a blog.

"It was a way of making sure that people knew about opportunities for creative industries, arts and culture," Easson explains.

"I started blogging about things in my spare time, and now ten years on we've become an RFO, which we're really happy about."

From blog to business

In those ten years, Creative Dundee grew from a blog into a fully-fledged operational business, which is now an integral part of the city's infrastructure.

The organisation runs events, maintains a large online presence, and offers support for creative businesses and practitioners, all within the remit of "amplifying and connecting the city's creativity".

Absolutely it's about supporting creative practitioners and businesses, but it's also about how citizens engage with culture and the creative industries in our city- Gillian Easton, Creative Dundee

There are now four members of staff: Easson (Director), Claire Dufour (Programmes Producer), Sam Gonçalves (Digital Producer) and Andy Truscott (Team Administrator). This increase in staffing is in itself a boost for the creative output of the organisation - and by extension, the city itself.

"The RFO funding has really allowed us to accelerate what we're doing," Easson says. "Up until we became an RFO, we only had one member of staff and two freelance producers. What it's enabled us to do is give valuable employment opportunities to people locally."

Regular events

Together, the team organises a key strand of events.

Pecha Kucha: In 2011, the organisation joined the global Pecha Kucha community. Pecha Kucha, or ‘chit chat’ in Japanese, was developed by Klein Dytham Architecture, in Tokyo back in 2003. It's an opportunity for individuals to get on stage and talk about a subject of their choice. Creative Dundee run these events quarterly.

Make/Share: This is a free monthly event, which brings together practitioners from creative, science, social and technology backgrounds. Here, participants are encouraged to talk about their work and their processes in order to develop a shared understanding of creative practice in its wider sense.

Dundee Soup: This is a social event which gives micro grants to local community based projects. The idea is that applicants can get access to small amounts of funding in an easy way: over a simple supper dinner.

Creative Industries Strategy

The organisation was instrumental in developing Dundee's first Creative Industries Strategy. The aim was to develop a collaborative strategy which meets the needs of the city’s creative sector.

The key ares that it explores are:

  • Progression routes into/through the Creative Industries
  • Collaborating with other sectors to create greater impact
  • Making better use of city spaces and resources

"We took it upon ourselves to bring together creative practitioners and businesses at all stages of their career, and the agencies who have a remit for supporting the creative industries," Easson says.

"We want to figure out what are the best forms of support and where the opportunities and challenges for Creative Industry businesses and practitioners lie.

"Two years on, we've developed something that has been taken on city wide. For a tiny organisation, that was a big achievement for us."

RFO and the future

With three years of Regular Funding from Creative Scotland, the team at Creative Dundee are keen to build on the work they have been doing with culture, creativity and the community.

"We have big plans for the next three years and we're just putting them into place," Easson explains. "They're around connecting the city more broadly.

"Absolutely it's about supporting creative practitioners and businesses, but it's also about how citizens engage with culture and the creative industries in our city.

"So expect to see more of us on that."

Creative Dundee is one of Creative Scotland's Regularly Funded Organisations 2018-21.

Watch our short film on Creative Dundee for more about the organisation.

This article was published on 16 May 2018