Dumfries and Galloway is establishing itself as one of, if not The, primary Arts regions in Scotland. The last set of figures I was given (at the DGU conference last summer) show the arts bring £50,000,000 into the area each year. We have an astonishing amount of artistic activity going on, from major, international festivals (Wigtown Book Festival, and Spring Fling Open Studios for example), to artists’ collectives, to writers groups, and everything in between.
Wild Film Festival Scotland begins on Friday and runs through to the end of Sunday. I will be in the Theatre Royal on Saturday evening to see Iolo Williams, a long standing friend of The Mr.
Two years ago, due to my literary activity, Wigtown Festival Company offered me one of three Literature Ambassador commissions. This sounds terribly grand, but all it means is in return for a small stipend I encourage and support literary activity in the region. This involves attending quarterly meetings with our main literary provider/support organisations, where we discuss plans, ambitions and successes, as well as problem solve. The last meeting was on Thursday (March 16), and I came back to my desk with plenty to be excited about (all of which I’ll write about here each Tuesday). The main part of my job is to spread the word about the mass of bookish happenings in the area, and help local writers, the organisations who employ them, and anyone who wants to stage events that involve text based work.
Another of the things I do is run a monthly poetry group in Moffat. I’d heard the local writers group doesn’t do poetry, and that this had disappointed a few would be poets, so what was I to do? Fill the gap with a dedicated group. At the moment I am bamboozling us all with form, but thankfully I have Stephen Fry to help and we are slowly working our way through his useful book.
And, a week or so ago I was able to help put the Moffat Museum in touch with a writer for a social event they are organising. They wanted someone who could entertain and educate members in an area that fits their ethos. The artists they had engaged for the job had had to pull out due to illness, so notice was short. Luckily I knew just the person and, voilà, he has been booked.
Next week I’ll tell you all about Big Lit, and the Wigtown International Poetry Competition, which is now open for entry.