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Glenkens Community and Arts Trust

Who we are

CatStrand logoThe Glenkens is set in the heart of Dumfries and Galloway and is named after the River Ken that runs through the valley before it flows into the River Dee and down to the sea. The Glenkens enjoys magnificent scenery in an unspoilt, remote part of Scotland. But rural isolation has created challenges. The Glenkens economy is heavily reliant on tourism, forestry and agriculture and has suffered from the setbacks to these sectors in recent years. The area has one of the lowest levels of pay in Scotland and a poor transport infrastructure, all of which poses significant challenges in terms of the long-term sustainability of the area

The Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT) was formed in 2001 as a direct result of the Foot and Mouth outbreak which severely knocked the area; at the same time there was a Community Horizons programme, an initiative led by the local authority, which encouraged local people to identify opportunities for regeneration and implement solutions.

The main aim of the trust has been to transform the derelict Victorian Kells Primary School, at the entrance to New Galloway, Scotland's smallest Royal Burgh, into a centre for community, cultural and business activities.

Securing and managing a large and complex funding package for the restoration has been the trust's biggest challenge to date. Over 25 funding bodies, trusts and businesses contributed to the capital development costs of £1 million. This meant extensive management and monitoring when drawing down and reporting on grants. The importance of vigorous research and consultation processes, with the development of business plans, feasibility studies and a track record for managing public funding was realised early on, as was the importance of having the local community on side and supporting the initiative.

In September 2007, The Catstrand opened its doors and has since been the hub of the community, providing a wide range of quality arts, community and training activities for the residents of the Glenkens as well as being a tourist attraction in its own right.

Since the building opened it has won several awards including Business sponsorship of the Arts from Arts and Business, Art in Public Places LEADER Award, finalist in Forward Scotland's Leadership in the Community, finalist in Enterprising Britain and finalist in VisitScotland Thistle Awards 2009 in the tourism innovation category.

The CatStrand incorporates a number of energy efficient and renewable energy components, including a wood pellet boiler and has been named Scotland's greenest arts venue.

Who is involved

There is an open membership of the Glenkens Community and Arts Trust (GCAT), although members must be resident in the Glenkens area; members are eligible to vote at the AGM and nominate themselves or others as a Director. The board is made up of nine directors which meets monthly.

Catstrand Centre   New GallowayGCAT has close links to the four community councils, local community groups and schools of the area, many of which regularly use The CatStrand as a venue.

GCAT works closely with the local council, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the Department for Work and Pensions, the local health partnership, Age Concern, and many other regional and national organisations, including the Scottish Arts Council, Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association and the LEADER programme . GCAT is also a member of the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS).

There is an active volunteer scheme with over 100 volunteers offering their skills and their time to support the activities of the organisation. This might be as a driver of the community bus, welcoming visitors at weekends, running the bar or stewarding and being 'front of house' at an event.

There is also a range of longer-term possibilities for voluntary internships and placements for those keen to gain work experience in the arts, develop specific skills, or to help provide a first step back into employment.

What we do

The CatStrand offers a wide range of facilities and services including:

  • A unique venue for conferences, meetings and training including high specification facilities, public internet access and catering provision
  • The History Stop, a focal point to help local people and tourists discover and enjoy the heritage of the Glenkens
  • A quality programme of national and international performing arts, including traditional music workshops, photographic and art exhibitions, comedy, storytelling, workshops, exhibitions, films and community events
  • The Teen Spirit project provides drop in sessions, counseling support and social opportunities for young people
  • RSAMD YouthWorks outreach programme provides traditional music instruction for young people
  • A support project for over 60s "Living Independently" provides workshops and classes including healthy living, tai chi and computer training
  • A community mini-bus service with disability access
  • Production and publication of a bi-monthly community newspaper
  • Design and implementation of the Jubilee Walk
  • Mother and toddler groups music sessions
  • Business support

What next?

The CatStrand will continue to develop long-term sustainable income streams and methods of working so that gradually there will be less dependence on public funding. Training, community provision and cultural activities will remain a priority in terms of the organisation's output, but venue hire, conferences and retail sales will be increased to provide additional income to support the running of the centre.

In addition, the Glenkens Community and Arts Trust are keen to continue to share their knowledge and experience with other communities.

Contact information

If you would like to know more about the Glenkens Community and Arts Trust, please contact:

Cathy Agnew, Chairman of GCAT or Rachel Thompson, Business Development Manager
By telephone: 01644 420374
By email: cathy@catstrand.com or Rachel@catstrand.com

Or by post:

The CatStrand,
New Galloway
Castle Douglas DG7 3RN

Website: www.catstrand.com