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Cathy Agnew Steps Down From D&G Arts Organisation

Cathy Agnew’s Farewell to DGU Arts Organisation after Nine Years at the Helm

After nine years at the helm, Cathy Agnew has stood down as chair of the organisation she helped found to champion the arts in Dumfries and Galloway.

DGU, the region’s chamber for the arts, was set up following the closure of dgArts (formerly Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association).

Speaking at the DGU annual general meeting on 25 November Cathy recalled the enthusiastic response when she and Matt Baker (another driving force behind the setting up of DGU) organised an initial public meeting. This took place at CatStrand arts centre in New Galloway in October 2011.

Cathy said: “We hoped for 20 people that night and close to 100 showed up. That gave us the confidence to realise that we were right to press on to try to find a new and innovative approach to arts delivery across the region.”

DGU (then called The Chamber of the Arts) was established in 2012 and now has just under 500 members.

Since then it has worked with Creative Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway Council and a range of other organisations to run arts and cultural projects and to bring a more strategic approach to arts provision and leadership.

Cathy, who lives in the Glenkens, said: “I feel I’m leaving the organisation at a time when it is well-established and confident in itself.

“Its future priorities will be to concentrate on the benefits that can be brought to the membership and to the people of the region. 
“For instance, it’s important that DGU’s activities continue to make a direct impact on creative organisations and individuals, especially after so many have been hard-hit by the pandemic.
“Above all, I believe that DGU will continue to engage with the region’s creative sector and take every opportunity to champion its successes to the outside world.”

Among its successes has been the establishment of the Regional Arts Fund. There is also the Creative Leaders project, supported by Creative Scotland, which gives support, training and mentoring and helps nurture artists’ professional development.

Next year will see a post-covid season of cultural activities for communities across the region that DGU is developing in partnership with the council.

In her concluding remarks Cathy added: “We’ve come a long way in nine years and I am proud to have played my part.
“But none of this could have happened without so many people giving their time, energy and enthusiasm – the enthusiasm of the membership, the commitment of board members, the energy and skills of the various DGU teams as they evolved.
“And we managed to win the trust, respect and support of our partners, funders and collaborators – in particular Dumfries & Galloway Council, Creative Scotland, LEADER and The Holywood Trust.
“We are the envy of many a local authority area in Scotland and often heralded as a trailblazer.”
  • The new chair of the board is Stephen Lacey from Lockerbie.