Cultural organisations

Dumfries & Galloway has a range of cultural organisations across the region, offering all sorts of events, services and opportunities for writers. Here we have listed those most relevant to writing and the spoken word. For information about other arts organisations and venues, you can find a comprehensive list on the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival website.

If you know of an organisation with literary pursuits that we haven’t included (or spot any out of date information), please get in touch using the contact form provided.

The Bakehouse (Gatehouse of Fleet)

The Bakehouse is a performance space dedicated to poetry and the spoken word. It also aims to promote interest and skills related to writing in Dumfries & Galloway through events that give local writers an opportunity to hear high quality work; opportunities to read their own work; workshops that provide an opportunity to share new work and obtain feedback from group leaders and other writers.

The Bakehouse houses a studio space for exhibitions and workshops, and the nineteenth-century Bakehouse itself provides a performance space for larger events including book launches, poetry readings and small-scale theatre. The Bakehouse can accommodate audiences of up to 50.

The team behind The Bakehouse also organises Big Lit Festival each year.

Find out more about The Bakehouse from their website.

CatStrand (New Galloway)

CatStrand is a contemporary performance and meeting space in the heart of the Glenkens community, promoting a varied music, arts and exhibition programme, and it also boasts up-to-date training and conference facilities, offers local information and a cafe, and runs regular classes, as well as regular meetings for writers. It is also home to CatStrand Cinema.

A central focal point for the whole of Dumfries & Galloway, CatStrand welcomes individuals, groups and businesses wanting to hire fully equipped meeting rooms. CatStrand aims to offer a range of high quality events, activities and facilities, with full disabled access, to suit every taste and every visitor.

Visit their events page for more information about what’s on, or their Facebook page for the latest updates.

DG Unlimited

DG Unlimited (DGU) is the day-to-day operating name of the Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of the Arts, a membership organisation that works with, and provides a voice for, Dumfries & Galloway’s creative sector. DGU advocates the vital role creative practitioners and organisations play in contributing to the well being of the region’s communities and economy.

DGU is an innovative sector-led model, acting as an advocacy, support and information organisation with a growing membership, creating a network of creative practitioners and supporters of Dumfries & Galloway’s vibrant creative sector. 

DGU operates as a strategic umbrella organisation working with the region’s creative sector, exploring areas of mutual interest for public benefit, the advancement of the arts and the region’s creative sector. It shares regular opportunities from the cultural sector and also offer small grants to local practitioners.

Find out more from their website, or follow the latest updates on their Facebook page.

Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival

Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival brings the performing arts to the region by engaging with artists and venue managers, supporting communities to stage shows, investing in the performing artists, introducing young people to live performance, and engaging people of all ages, from all walks of life, with an imaginative programme of workshops.

Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival is Scotland’s largest rural multi-artform festival, with more than 170 artists performing at 82 events in 42 venues across the full breadth of the region.

In June 2016, the festival team also began a year-round touring project called Arts Live, with a network of venues, performing artists and promoters hosting arts events across the region to create a diverse programme.

A full range of musical events, dance, the world of books and ground-breaking theatrical performances are mainstays of the yearly programmes, as are some well-established mini festivals in literature and song, and an exciting and lively fringe.

Visit their website for more information about what’s on, or their Facebook page for the latest updates.

Kirkcudbright Art and Crafts Trail

Kirkcudbright Art and Crafts Trail is primarily a visual arts trail, taking place each year in early August, but which often includes writers and their local poetry group.

Residents and visitors alike visit the trail, which is located in several venues across the town. The trail has grown over the years and is not just centred around the harbour and high street.

Visit their website for more information on how to participate, or follow their Facebook page for the latest updates.

Peter Pan Moat Brae (Dumfries)

Moat Brae is a Georgian town house in Dumfries that was the inspiration behind J.M. Barrie’s famous Neverland creation and the birthplace of Peter Pan. It is soon to reopen as Scotland’s National Centre for Storytelling and Children’s Literature, a place intended to promote and encourage imagination, creativity and play.

To find out more about the centre’s progress, and for information on current events and projects, visit their website.

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

Although based in Alloway in neighbouring Ayrshire, it’s worth considering this museum as a resource. It holds a collection of over 5,500 manuscripts, books, personal artefacts and artworks related to Robert Burns, which are also available online. It also hosts regular exhibitions and events, and offers venue space. And don’t forget to walk along the Poet’s Path! Find out more from the website.

The Stove Network (Dumfries)

The Stove premises at 100 High Street, Dumfries, is a fully accessible public arts space/facility/resource for the population of the town and the wider region. The Stove also supports a network that creates opportunities and connections for the creative community and integrates with the local economy and wider society, working with artists, young people, local people and groups to make public art events and activities in Dumfries. It works to build national and international connections for the arts in south-west Scotland.

With a busy events programme, The Stove also runs Brave New Words, a monthly open mic night for writers, artists, musicians and songwriters to share words spoken or sung to an audience in the heart of the town centre.

To find out more about The Stove’s range of creative projects and events, visit their website.

The Swallow Theatre (Whithorn)

The Swallow Theatre, Scotland’s smallest working theatre, is a 50-seat venue in rural Dumfries & Galloway, and is located about three miles from Whithorn (Scotland’s earliest Christian settlement and one of its very oldest towns) and ten miles from Wigtown (Scotland’s book town).

The theatre provides a wide range of events: drama (including original work), music (classical, folk and jazz), poetry and play readings, and ‘theme nights’. Several well-known musicians, actors and music groups have visited the theatre.

To find out more about its programme of events, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

Wigtown Festival Company

Wigtown Festival Company, based in Scotland’s National Book Town, is the team behind the 10-day Wigtown Book Festival, now one of the UK’s best-loved literary events with activities for all ages, including music, theatre, food and visual arts.

Run by a small professional staff and assisted by more than 100 volunteers, Wigtown Festival Company also runs a number of smaller events throughout the year, such as the Big Bang and Big DoG festivals, as well as year-round projects supporting literature development across Dumfries & Galloway.

Writer-specific projects include a mentoring programme for writers in Dumfries & Galloway, an annual networking and development event called the Writers’ Gathering, a number of initiatives for the region’s younger writers, a team of Literature Ambassadors working to support writers across the region, and the now internationally acclaimed Wigtown Poetry Competition. Wigtown Festival Company also supports the production of Southlight, the region’s literary magazine.

Other initiatives include Give Voice (storytelling offered in many of the region’s care homes), Brave New Words (a monthly spoken word event held in Dumfries in association with The Stove), and a programme of events in HMP Dumfries. To find out more about all of the Festival Company’s projects, visit the Wigtown Book Festival website or follow them on Facebook.

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