First Day in Post – The WWDN Launch by Andy Furlonger

First Day in Post – The WWDN Launch by Andy Furlonger

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I attended the What We Do Now Launch on 9th May at the Catstrand on my first day in post as the new Membership Manager. I recently moved back to Dumfries but I have a deep connection with the area; my parents live near Lockerbie and I lived in Georgetown as a wean before moving to England.

After a picturesque drive with some of the team and attendees we arrived to warm midday sun and really friendly venue staff. The atmosphere was extremely welcoming and I met many of our members and local creatives as we started to find our seats for the opening comments.

Someone making badges at WWDN launch day.

I found a seat towards the back of a very well attended main hall. Our table was a wonderful mix of artists and local community stakeholders. The discussion was lively and very optimistic. After a while we were introduced to Katharine Wheeler, WWDN Director and Emma Jayne, our facilitator for the day. EJ did  an excellent job of livening up the room and managing expectations as to what we could expect from the event.  

As we moved outdoors it was amazing to meet the Community Arts Network Van with a selection of artist’s materials available for reuse. Some attendees took the opportunity to join Zoe Kirkpatrick for a local history walk, whilst others followed Peter McCaughey (who had earlier given an engaging and often hilarious talk) for a Journey into The Unknown! There really was something for everyone.

I joined Matt Baker, CEO of The Stove, and others as Brian Edgar, the Facilities and Enterprise Manager for the venue, shared the history of the Catstrand; from its origins as a school to becoming a Freemason’s Lodge and eventually an amazing community centre. The Stove’s very own Martin O’Neil led a workshop looking at hands-on techniques to inspire fresh perspectives.  Our facilitator EJ held a Conversation Corner.  No preparation was necessary, just the will to chat about something (sort of) related to the event!  

Back to the main hall and we were treated to an extraordinary display of musical talent from the bell ringers led on the double bass by the talented Stuart Macpherson. We finished the day off with a glass of wine and some delicious food whilst enjoying the last of the day’s sunshine. I can honestly say that was the most enjoyable first day of a new job I’ve ever had!

According to the feedback (and from my experience), the WWDN launch was a real success and portends well for the future of the network and the importance of creative placemaking. There are still huge challenges ahead, however with such an incredible network of community activists I am incredibly optimistic about the future.

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