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Stories of witness: Dundee QM

Jonathan Baxter and Sarah Gittins, Dundee LM

Recipient of QPSW Sustainability Grant 2011Dundee-Meeting-House.jpg

DUO (Dundee Urban Orchard) is a socially engaged art project which aims to celebrate and raise awareness of sustainability through the planting, tending and celebration of small-scale orchards in Dundee. It is the collaborative practice of Jonathan Baxter and Sarah Gittins.

Funding from the Sustainability Grant 2011 allowed Jonathan and Sarah to undertake research for DUO and to create a complementary exhibition for the Cupar Arts Festival 2011. The exhibition was open for two weeks and generated considerable interest and helpful feedback.

As part of their research, Jonathan and Sarah visited orchards and orchard groups throughout Fife, gaining first-hand knowledge of small-scale orchards, and meeting with colleagues keen to assist them in their initiative. The research and face-to-face meetings where invaluable for designing DUO's public engagement process and thinking about its overall delivery.

In addition to publicity for DUO and the fostering of a network of support outwith the city, the research, small materials budget, and exhibition outcomes all had a positive impact in Dundee.

Using research undertaken in Fife, and the documentation from the exhibition, Jonathan and Sarah were able to meet with Dundee-based community groups and organisations to further their aims. Over the course of a year – and based on their initial research and exhibition in Fife – DUO has gone on to gain wide-spread city support. This includes financial and practical support from the Council and in-kind support form a wide range of community groups, educational establishments and cultural organisations.

DUO is now awaiting confirmation of core funding from Creative Scotland. If funding is forthcoming DUO will launch a three-year programme in March 2013.

Regarding 'advice for others', Jonathan and Sarah suggest that a short-term and long-term strategy are useful when developing sustainability-related projects. They also suggest a wide-ranging approach to participation: go where the energy is and don't be deterred!

November 2012

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