Our Creative Year

A final word on our creative 2019 from CABN Creative Leader, Mary Morrison.

MANIFEST 2019 was an opportunity to come together and celebrate a Creative Year – for makers, presenters or supporters of culture and creativity in all its forms.

We had a great turnout on the night, and two fantastic guest acts – Nicoletta Stephanz and Scott Redmond.  Nicoletta introduced the audience to the magical electronica of the theremin, combined with beautiful vocals and on screen visuals.

Scott was a whirlwind of verbal energy, taking us on a journey of joy and pathos.

The rolling slideshow of images on screen –  which were submitted by individuals, small creative businesses and organisations, was testament to the quality and diversity of creative work happening here in the Borders.   Here is a snapshot of some 2019 activities:

The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival had a local programme for the first time, due to the newly established RISE Arts & Wellbeing Network and a range of partners across the region.   Projects such as Song Wave – led by Clare Watson, began from an idea inspired by the lyrics of Scott Hutchison, lead singer of Frightened Rabbit.  Flash mob choirs sprung up performing the song wave lyrics and score in unexpected places and spaces.  Works+ made  100 Heads – a film asking people across the Borders ‘How do you feel today?’  Who knew such a simple question could be so meaningful.  Watch it on-line!

National Theatre of Scotland toured the Borders with Engine Room – delivering workshops and 1:1 sessions with local artists and writers at venues across the region – Eastgate Theatre, Unit 4 – Cornucopia Rooms, Heart for Duns.

There was an explosion of playwriting and new work for stage presented – hello Borders Pub Theatre and Duns Playfest!

We had 8 Cultural Forums across the Borders, hosted by diverse groups and venues including Fiona Henderson Dance School, and A Heart for Duns.  Forums offer a space to gather, hear and see something interesting, discuss and exchange.

The Borders Young Creatives project saw an inspirational group of young people complete an intensive 18 months programme learning how to be promoters, gaining in confidence and experience and receiving qualifications.  Ayliffe Rose, part of the Arts and Creativity Team, who we sadly said goodbye to in December, supported the young people through the programme by EU Leader and Creative Scotland.

Marchmont House continued to evolve as a home for makers and creators with exciting endeavours and commissions.  2 major symposiums took place – Conversations in Wood and Exploring Modern Scottish Sculpture.

BATCH:2  Experiments in the Making saw Sunday afternoon performances throughout August at The Bakery Studio, Jedburgh, initiated and led by Claire Pencak. Batch 2 was a programme of experimental dance performance, conversations and film, and brought together many of Scotland’s most innovative and distinguished dance makers to perform works that pushed at the edges of contemporary dance.

Alchemy Film & Arts reached out further and launched Filmtown in summer 2019 – a community filmmaking initiative encompassing workshops, partnerships and an open access media lab in Hawick town centre.

The Eastgate Theatre completed an ambitious refurbishment, continuing to deliver programme of activity during the building work – by having a high street presence and working with local communities beyond the town with a touring programme.

And there were many, many more projects, initiatives and individual endeavours across the region.

Creativity matters – creativity transforms lives and transforms places.  Despite this, many livelihoods in the creative sector are precarious and there are great challenges in public funding for the arts.   So it is important to understand, recognise and champion the value of creativity, and to create the conditions for it to flourish.    We need to connect, collaborate and support each other.

It is incredibly important to celebrate the value of creativity, and that is what MANIFEST is all about, as well as being a great opportunity to get together.

Here’s to a creative 2020!


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