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Dundee Matters: Cultural strategy is a necessary boot up the backside

One of the new posters put up around Dundee to highlight the new strategy.
One of the new posters put up around Dundee to highlight the new strategy.

As a cultural centre, Dundee has, to borrow a phrase, never had it so good.

The Dundee Literary Festival, which finished yesterday, brought dozens of top authors to the city while people turned out in their hundreds for the launch of the new biography of Michael Marra on Friday night.

More importantly, the city’s bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023 will be submitted on Friday.

There’s a lot riding on the 80-page document — if it is able to convince the judges Dundee deserves the title then the city will never be the same again.

Given that things have never been so rosy, it could be seen as an odd time to launch a new Creative Industries Strategy for Dundee.

Among the recommendations made in the new strategy was one that proved strangely contentious: convincing people they don’t need to leave Dundee to further their careers.

This seems a relatively straightforward and benign point but it caused a minor stooshie online, with people queuing up to say reporting this point was, somehow, knocking Dundee.

But here’s the thing — the report was not wrong to highlight this as an issue, nor to outline ways to combat it.

While we all pride ourselves on the transformation currently under way in Dundee, standing still is not an option.

Dundee is flourishing but if the city begins resting on its laurels it could easily start moving backwards.

If that sometimes means people have to hear things they do not like, then so be it.

After all, it was that ambition, that refusal to accept the status quo, that led to the bid to bring the V&A to Dundee a decade ago.

Of course, common sense can wither and die online.

A rather jaw-droppingly awful blog published on Saturday by a former screenwriter called  “Grouse Beater” had this to say about the V&A: “Having a pocket version of London’s V&A in Dundee is all very well, but it isn’t there to represent Scotland’s culture, or guarantee staff posts to residents of Scotland.

“It doesn’t actually advance the cause of self-governance one inch.”

Never mind the fact the museum will tell the history of Scottish design, that he confuses art with propaganda and ignores the expected wider economic impact of the museum, if he realises what the initials V and A actually stand for his poor wee head might explode.

 

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