Save the DCA - Say No to New Multiplex on doorstep of DCA

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Come on Dundee - do we really need another gargantuan cinema right next door to a well established cinema?

Would you build another Repertory Theatre just across the road from the Dundee Rep? This proposed development could be situated near the Wellgate - to generate much needed business and income to that part of town.

Meanwhile this space could be opened up to a competition to redesign and repurpose the area that benefits both the community and the landowners. Maybe resulting in something more permanent - or more flexible.

Look what happened when we ran a competiton to design the V&A.

One month it could be an open air cinema or theatre, the next week a pop up restaurant or food festival, or a visiting market or exhibition space, or a space for campervans and caravans to visit the V&A, or a venue for a mini music festival, or weekend craft shops, or local workshops. A truly civic centre.

Somewhere to gather and picnic and sit and talk to others or hold public meetings and celebrations or do fundraisers for different groups. There are no end of organisations and charities in Dundee and further afield who would benefit from an imaginative space like this.

We have little enough public space in Dundee city centre as it is.

Once we build another big branded steel box with yet another car park attached, we're stuck with it - and with something that benefits only a few people financially to the detriment of the community.

There are big cinemas sitting empty in Dundee - so why are we proposing to build another one with yet another hotel attached to it?

The DCA also shows main stream movies and the money generated from this helps to subsidise other events and less well known films - so why are we even thinking about building another one round the corner?

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From a recent article by Mike Press (see below for credit) -

"Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) has been critical to putting Dundee on the world map of culture and the arts — a symbol and indeed driving force of change behind the city’s transformation to a vibrant aspirational creative hub.

It is a city that still has acute challenges of deprivation and poverty, and the challenge for all of us is to ensure that the promised future of inward investment and cultural tourism benefits everyone.

Which is why the proposal to build a nine screen multiplex just metres from the DCA is hopefully just a momentary lapse of civic reason. For it would simply spell disaster for the vision that we have been building and which promises so much. And apart from that, it is a particularly lazy idea in terms of development.

The DCA was the first building block in creating a new idea of what Dundee could be — a spur to the entire waterfront development. Without the DCA there would be no V&A Dundee. I know. I spent five days at the V&A in London a decade ago arguing patiently along with three colleagues as to why the V&A should make their first development outside London in a small Scottish city. The DCA was a vital part of that argument — a perfect fit. A world class design museum alongside a world class contemporary arts centre. It was the suggestion of that creative synergy that brought the V&A to Dundee.

Without the DCA — no UNESCO City of Design and all the festivals, international links, world class profiling and attention that this has brought. We are, let us remind ourselves for one moment, the only UK UNESCO City of Design. So many folk in the city helped secure this — but again, the DCA was a critical part of the mix.

Without the DCA would we have nurtured, attracted and retained the magnificent creative community we now have, that fills the Rep to the rafters on Pecha Kucha night, that gives us Hayley Scanlan fashion, Genna Delaney jewellery, all those games and app developers, and countless other wonderful designers, artists and creators of culture?

Without the DCA would we have attracted all the scientists that have put Dundee in Europe’s top three centres for life sciences research? Because scientists want to live where there’s culture, arts and the vibrancy of places like the DCA.

Without the DCA we would undoubtedly have a poverty of aspiration and cultural experience.

When a city has something that is excellent then its civic duty — indeed its moral responsibility — is to protect, encourage and develop it further, to build on its strengths.

Around one third of the DCA’s income comes from the cinema’s excellent programme that combines popular blockbusters, live streamed performances, and more niche offers from world cinema. As such it provides a public service of affordable and diverse culture.

Put a multiplex behind it, and that income stream would be axed by at least half — and my fear is that could provide a fatal blow to the DCA’s entire viability.

Come on Dundee — think a little more creatively about that small plot of neglected land. Do what Glasgow and other places in Scotland have done with similarly neglected stalled spaces. Use it to give community initiatives a place to flourish, be enterprising, and raise money for their communities. For example one summer it’s an open air theatre in the round, then it’s a community farm, the year after it’s used for pop up markets, or for mini music festivals. We’re a city of culture — give the people’s culture spaces to express themselves, to find new audiences among our new visitors. When it comes to that space — just think differently.

The DCA is part of the fabric of our city, woven into our cultural life.

Like Dundee itself — it is precious."

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Article used by permission / courtesy of Mike Press @ Medium 

Note: We understand that there are other residents in the city centre who welcome this proposal and who would like to see this go ahead - but I believe it's important that we discuss all the possibilities and challenges before committing to something so permanent - especially when there are other cinemas sitting empty, as well as two big multiplexes on the outskirts and other parts of the city centre that are being neglected and left undeveloped - like the Wellgate.