Culture at the Heart of the Community

The opening of V&A Dundee will be one of the big arts stories in 2018 and it’s in Dundee that Samira Ahmed begins today’s programme which looks at how arts organisations nationwide are seeking to make themselves open and relevant to their local communities.

As we start a new year, it’s nice to be reminded that some things remain constant. Sure, we’re all trying to change things up for the better (I’m going to the gym tomorrow, I promise), but there are some things which it’s good to know are holding fast – here, it’s people’s willingness to engage with culture. 

In this charming half-hour radio documentary, presenter Samira Ahmed takes the forthcoming V&A Dundee as her focal point for an exploration of how several arts organisations have sought to become a real and valued part of the communities in which they’re located. 

There are some great anecdotes of public engagement in here: from the Dundee volunteers who envisaged their V&A community garden as a place ‘courting couples’ can while away the hours, to the Storyhouse, a theatre/cinema/library hybird arts centre in Chester which has seen library newcomers browsing the collection ‘with red wine in hand’. 

Ultimately though, it made me happy to hear of the sustained level of enthusiasm that people in all of the communities covered held for their cultural institutions. Even if initially sceptical, overarching feelings of purposeful participation and pride are what come to define all of these relationships, and it’s these feelings which we need to continue to help cultivate.

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