Saturday, 1 October 2011

Dumfries and Galloway Arts axed

The news came like a bombshell yesterday Sept 30 2011 at the literary events and activists forum at Wigtown: that D&G Arts had ceased to trade - or was about to cease at 4 or 5pm. The council representative at the forum, Lesley Rogers (Creative Arts Business Development Officer CABDO) had brought details of CABN - Creative Arts Business Network. She was asked, as she circulated details of a 'consultation' what had happened to the last 'consultation' - was she aware of it. Carolyn Yates, sitting quietly at the back, confirmed that a very recently-completed 'consultation' had indeed been the subject of an in depth briefing. I asked if we at Moffat Book Events could discuss having a 'writer in residence' - perhaps at one of the hotels in the town, as has happened for instance Martin Amis at Heathrow (or was it Will Self?). I also mentioned my idea of inviting a small group of senior figures in Chinese publishing to come to see how a community organises a book event. One of our residents, Andrew Wheatcroft, is invited as a VIP every year to the Beijing Book Fair because many of his former pupils who he taught at the University of Sterling now run the Chinese book trade. After the forum, I was sent details of two key meetings: an open one at CatStrand in New Galloway this Monday afternoon Oct 3rd at 4pm and one to which 'numbers are limited' so apply now, at Dalbeattie on Oct 28 from 10am-4pm. Troubled by the turn of events, I decided not to stay on for the session on graphic books illustration to which Carolyn kindly invited me. I had made an appointment, at the suggestion of Andrea Reive, to meet Michael Wickenden the plant hunter and gardener at Cally Gardens and it is a long drive to Wigtown and back in one day for me. I found Michael in his amazing walled garden,still bursting with colour and he explained that he will be self-publishing an account of his most recent (of 12 so far, world wide) plant-hunting expedition, on the border of China and Burma where five great rivers including the Dulong aka the Irawaddy, the Yangtse and the Mekong start their journeys to the sea. We agreed that, if it can be arranged, he will appear at our MBE spring 2012 event 'in conversation' with Kenneth Cox author of Scotland for Gardeners and himself a notable plant hunter. I had no idea until I met Michael that the world of plant propagation, collecting and breeding has a great shadow over it, cast by the recent practice of treating nature as intellectual property, giving plant breeders copyright over 'their' creations. A gardens &/or plant hunter themed Moffat Book Event in spring 2012 is on the way to becoming a reality.

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