The Dundee Cultural Recovery project is calling for traders and organisations to help them shape the course of the city’s culture sector post-Covid.
A collaboration between Dundee University researchers at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD), Leisure and Culture Dundee, and Dundee City Council Events Team, the project aims to establish the impacts of the pandemic on creative and cultural work in the city.
And organisations, policymakers, and freelancers across Dundee are being asked to share their experiences in a series of online focus groups on June 24 and 25.
Dr Lauren England, from DJCAD, explained: “As part of trying to understand the effects and impact of pandemic, there was a survey sent out to cultural institutions in the city, which we will be reporting on in early autumn.
“And we’re set to run these three workshops, in which we’ll have discussions with different stakeholder groups to understand the impacts of the pandemic.
That will also to feed directly into the Covid Recovery Plan that the Dundee Partnership Cultural Development Group are developing.”
Dr England said that the university had a dual role to play in the project, as both a research facility and a major cultural stakeholder in the city.
“The university is inherently training the next generation of cultural workers and is, itself, a key cultural organisation in Dundee,” she said. “Particularly in its relationships with organisations like V&A Dundee and other partnerships across the city.”
But as well as major organisations and entities like V&A Dundee, the researchers want to hear from freelancers and sole traders who may be feeling overlooked.
Focus on freelancers
“One of the focus groups that’s taking place (June 25) is focusing on freelancers and sole traders,” Dr England explained.
“Because we know that’s the voice that often isn’t heard as much as the cultural organisations and those working in policy, so it was really important to make sure that freelancers and cultural workers’ perspectives were being heard.”
The workshops will include a mix of broad and more practical discussion topics, including what workers’ occupational conditions were like before the pandemic, changes in business models throughout the lockdown, and how people perceive the sustainability of their livelihoods.
“We’re also interested in any changes in people’s relationships with digital technology,” adds Dr England.
“And any changes in their relationship with the city itself, and the communities they work with. Also their opinions on cultural policy and the strategy for the city, and where they as freelancers sit within that.”
What happens next
After the workshops, the findings will be passed to the project’s partners at Leisure and Culture Dundee and Dundee City Council to help inform the Covid Recovery Plan.
Judy Dobbie, managing director of Leisure and Culture Dundee, said:
“Dundee has a truly dynamic network in its cultural sector. We want to ensure that culture continues to play a vital role in the city’s future.
“We are also working together to highlight the challenges that face the sector as these unprecedented times continue. It is critical for us to collectively raise the profile of the impact on the cultural sector and highlight how important it is to the people of the city and beyond to have access to the creative and cultural experiences that are so essential for wellbeing.
“The results of the survey highlighting the impact of Covid-19 will be made public and we look forward to seeing the outcome of Lauren’s workshops.”
Anyone interested in taking part in the workshops should register online before the day of their preferred sessions. The workshops will take place online using Microsoft Teams on June 24 and 25.
The project has been supported by a University of Dundee Impact and Innovation Grant 2021.