The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.


Joan McAlpine Praises Dumfries and Galloway at Historic Environment Scotland Event

SNP MSP for South Scotland, Joan McAlpine, has celebrated the unique cultural heritage of Dumfries and Galloway at a Scottish Parliament reception to launch Historic Environment Scotland’s new corporate plan ‘Heritage for All’.



Ms. McAlpine, who is also convener of the Scottish Parliament’s committee on Culture, Tourism, Europe, and External Affairs, sponsored the event in parliament and used her opening speech to highlight Dumfries and Galloway heritage sites which have benefitted from HES custodianship since the body was established in 2015 by the Scottish Government.  

She praised high-profile attractions like Caerlaverock Castle, which is being brought to life using VR technology. Ms. McAlpine also drew attention to several smaller projects which have benefitted from HES investment, including parish churches in Sanquhar, Dunscore, Kirkcudbright, and Thornhill.

She also singled out restoration projects to bring older buildings back into good repair in order to benefit the community, including Annandale Distillery, Moat Brae children’s literature centre, Moffat town hall, and the Crichton memorial church. The funding HES provide for such projects helps support local businesses, social enterprises and  voluntary groups.

HES also manage 12,525 Canmore Galloway records, 33,000 catalogued archives, and have a role in safeguarding 3367 listed buildings locally.

Historic Environment Scotland is the result of a merger between previous public bodies ‘Historic Scotland’ and ‘The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland’.

Speaking to gathered guests, Joan McAlpine said:

“In Scotland we are blessed with a rich cultural heritage, containing the most incredible built heritage, from medieval castles, through Georgian mansions to ancient brochs. 

“The committee I currently chair is responsible for overseeing the work of HES and it is clear the merger is a considerable success – I think we were all particularly impressed when conducting our pre- budget scrutiny last year when HES told us that there were so many people visiting their properties, that their self-generated income was actually growing.

“This reflects the success story and indeed the passion for Scotland’s heritage by our growing cohort of international visitors as well as Scots themselves.

“It’s clear that many people are already enjoying Scotland’s cultural heritage, and I am really looking forward to hearing about how Historic Environment Scotland plan to make sure that many more people get to enjoy that heritage.”

Pennies From Heaven? A New Exhibition Opening Soon

Pennies from Heaven? - an exhibition inspired by the historic Galloway Glens hydro scheme that explores energy, climate change and consumerism is soon to open in Dumfries.

It follows a successful series of events on Saturday, including artists’ walks and a tour of the Tongland hydroelectric power station, near Kirkcudbright.

The events and exhibition are part of Energise, an arts project undertaken by internationally renowned photographers Morag Paterson and Ted Leeming, from near Dalry, with artists Jason Nelson, from Dundee, and Catherine Major from Moffat.

The weekend saw them take groups round the power station and dam, which were built in the 1930s and are still powering the equivalent of 79,000 homes with green energy.


Image By Colin Hattersley

There was a river walk from Dalry to Earlstoun Power Station and dam followed by an afternoon of talks by the team and University of Glasgow sustainability expert Dr David Edwards at the Catstrand arts centre, New Galloway.

From 11 May to 29 June the project will culminate with Pennies From Heaven?at the Gracefield Arts Centre. 

It combines photography, cyanotypes, and 81 metal plaques in an exhibition designed to underline the urgent need for changes in how we generate power, the amount we use, and in consumer culture.

A centrepiece will be a large image, created by Morag, showing the lochs and rivers of the hydro scheme catchment area. The system is so carefully designed that a single drop of rain can be used to generate low cost, clean energy up to five times before it final reaches the sea.

She said: “When the hydro scheme started some people thought of its as ‘Pennies from Heaven’ because the rain on the Galloway hills was being turned into clean energy that could power thousands of homes. 

“It’s hugely inspiring that this immense project, which faced resistance at the time, is still going strong after so many decades and that it has become such a well-loved part of the landscape.

“But the brutal reality is that our demand for energy and consumer goods has just continued to grow and we now face a climate change emergency. This exhibition prompts questions about these issues and what we need to do to change.

“The urgency is very real – and it’s significant that at the same time that we were preparing this exhibition that David Attenborough addressed the United Nations, that the Extinction Rebellion protests started taking place and our next generation, young people like Greta Thunberg began demanding change.”

Ted’s photographs, which have been taken in Scotland and beyond, include images that are individually beautiful while disturbing as a collection. They use innovative titles to help develop a narrative and encourage engagement and interaction.  Shops packed with designer goods and jet planes high above the mountains are set alongside drowned landscapes and fields of nothing. 

He said: “This residency has emphasised the imperative to act quickly. Just doing your recycling is simply no longer enough. We have to change our habits as consumers, and our energy use as a society. The consequences for future generations are not only horrifying environmentally but the costs to alleviate the impacts will increase astronomically. It makes simple economic sense if nothing else to act now.

“In terms of energy, the Galloway hydro scheme set an incredible example of how much can be achieved when there is the determination and the investment to make change. And even though they thought of it as Pennies from Heaven, the reality is that nothing comes for free.”

Jason worked with Galloway people of all ages, asking them to record a message about their hopes for the world of 2030. This is the year by which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says a fundamental shift in energy production is needed to avoid a “tipping point” of irreversible climate change and minimise the effects of the mass extinction of species we are already witnessing.

Their words have been used to create 81 aluminium plaques, each carrying a message, which will be displayed at the exhibition.   

Some are global, like wanting a better environment for their grandchildren, others are homely like hoping for a family of their own – or even a pet dog.

Jason said: “These plaques show the wishes of real people for the future, and that matters a lot at a time when so many feel they are not being heard. Every voice has value, and together they become a shout.

“We are caught in a cycle of consumerism and energy use and the reasons for it are very complex. 

“So it’s not about pointing a finger of blame, it’s about highlighting the issues and asking what kind of world we want, and what we need to do as individuals and as a society to get there.”

Catherine Major, a 28-year-old artist who also runs Moffat Youth Theatre, has been working with Jason to help create the installation.

She said: “A lot of these plaques were made by young people – and so many young people feel that their interests are not being thought about, and they are not being listened to.

“It’s been an amazing project to be involved with because it is all about encouraging people to think about how they can make their voices heard. And while we often feel powerless, it also helps point out that we have power as consumers – and the decisions we make can bring change.”

The Energiseproject has been created by Upland CIC arts development organisation and is supported by Creative Scotland and the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership.

Amy Marletta, Projects Director at Upland, said: Energise has shown how artists and the arts can work with the community to create powerful messages and ideas about the world we live in and about our common future.

“We are very much looking forward to the opening of the Gracefield exhibition which will give the public a chance to see an important body of work that combines visual beauty with some very uncomfortable truths.”

The power station tours took place in the company of Graeme Dickie of Drax, which took over Tongland at the start of the year as part of its drive towards a zero carbon future.

Pop Up Shop announced as the next exciting project at The Guild Dumfries

The Guild (Dumfries) CIC are thrilled to announce that they have secured a pop-up shop in Dumfries Town Centre. For the first two weeks in August, The Guild are proposing to take over the former Body Shop premises in The Loreburne Centre and giving customers a taste of how The Guild will look and feel.



The Guild will be using this opportunity to engage with the public and gather feedback and opinions for their proposed permanent community space which will include a collective retail space in the heart of Dumfries Town Centre. They will also be hosting a programme of creative workshops, working with other businesses within the Town Centre, with an aim of increasing footfall and creating a buzz of excitement throughout the town and encouraging people to #Shoplocal.

Director, Leah Halliday says, “We are delighted to have secured a pop-up shop in The Loreburne Centre and we want to thank them for their support. This property occupies a prime site location within the town centre and is close to the entrance of the Loreburne Shopping Centre, lots of potential customers will pass the shopfront. The shopping centre has many stores, Marks & Spencer will be our neighbours! Other businesses including Monsoon, JD Sports, Superdrug, Specsavers, Poundland, Claire’s Accessories and The Works are also situated inside the shopping centre, so we have lots of shops nearby for customers to explore”

The Guild’s ambitious plans are to develop a community space that will offer multiple, affordable rentable concessions in their shop, have both studio and workshop space, meeting rooms, a venue for exhibitions and events plus a community kitchen. These will be available to rent to a community of makers, a variety of local groups, businesses and organisations, offering a central place where people can meet, work, create and collaborate, with a strong ethos of encouraging participation & social inclusion.

Fellow Director, Kirsten Scott added, “We can't wait to throw open the doors of our pop up shop and showcase talented makers, designers, producers and indie biz owners. It will be a one stop shop for all things beautiful, unusual and handmade. A place where customers can purchase covetable products they might not find elsewhere in the town and they'll also be happy in the knowledge that they are buying directly from local makers.”

The Guild Pop Up is no ordinary shop though. As a social enterprise any profit generated from this project, after covering running costs and overheads, will be reinvested in the business and towards its social aims. The Guild hopes to create a positive social impact and develop the types of facilities, projects, events, activities and opportunities the local community and town needs.

“We are really looking forward to working with our community of makers, to create an experiential shop for just two weeks. We want to nurture and grow the partnerships we have already made at our previous events and share the idea of our community space to the people of Dumfries. We can't wait to use this as a platform to share our vision of our permanent indoor community space and talk to the community about our ideas. Customers can also get involved; we'll be encouraging them to engage with their creative sides.”

A programme of events, live installations, talks, tastings and workshops are planned during the two-week period also.

So, if you're a maker, designer. artist, producer or indie business owner and are keen to find new ways to get your products in front of new customers in a prime location, raise your profile and be involved in this social enterprise project then apply today. The deadline for applications is the 12th May at midnight. The Guild are keen to collaborate with makers from across the region & beyond and strive to create an exciting and innovative experiential pop up shop. Further details, application forms and full Terms and Conditions can be found on their website at

Best-Selling Author Runs Weekend Writing Workshops

There are still places left on two weekend summer courses for writers run by best-selling crime novelist John Dean at his home near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway.



John, author of 18 novels and currently published by London-based The Book Folks, is the creator of the popular DCI John Blizzard and DCI Jack Harris series.

He will run courses based around sense of place from his 19th Century home set in rolling countryside on the weekends of July 6/7 and August 24/25, 2019.

The workshops will be suitable for writers of all prose genres and will be ideal for either individuals, including those planning to holiday in the area, or writing groups.

John said: “Sometimes it can benefit writers to get away from the daily grind and take themselves off somewhere that will spark their creativity. My courses gives them that opportunity.”

The cost is £95 per person, including catering, and you can find out more by emailing Chamber member Inscribe Media Limited, of which John is a director, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. The course is non-residential but advice can be offered on local B and Bs.

EventScotland To Fund Youth Beatz To Tune of £25k

Scotland’s largest free youth music festival Youth Beatz will receive £25,000 worth of funding thanks to Round 40 EventScotland’s National Programme Fund.



Youth Beatz takes place in Dumfries on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June and will this year by headlined by top music performers Sigma and Professor Green. The funding will contribute towards maintaining the size and scale of the 2018 event, which was a signature event as part of the Year of Young People. The 2019 event is expected to attract a record audience of 40,000 people over the two days.

Youth Beatz has grown in the last decade and is now a firm favourite on the region’s events calendar.  It will once again be held at Park Farm in Dumfries and will welcome British drum and bass DJ Sigma to entertain the thousands of fans on the first day, Saturday 22 June.  With hits such as ‘Nobody to Love’ and ‘Changing’, the local crowd is sure to be excited for the first day of the festival.  The second day (Sunday 23 June) will see Professor Green take to the stage, to belt out tunes such as ‘Read All About It’ and ‘I Need You Tonight’.  I will be Pro Green’s second visit to Youth Beatz having headlined at the festival’s previous home of the David Keswick Athletics Centre in 2013.

Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Young People’s Champion said;

“I am delighted that Event Scotland is supporting Youth Beatz this year with its commitment of £25k.  Our Council is committed to ensuring events like Youth Beatz continue to deliver free and safe entertainment and unique opportunities for our local young people.  Our Council is proud to have Youth Beatz returning for a two day event this year as part of our legacy for the Year of Young People. I am confident that Youth Beatz 2019 will be better than ever and deliver the same high quality experience that young people in Dumfries and Galloway have come to enjoy.”

Cairn Langan, a young volunteer from the Oasis Events Team involved in organising the event said;

“We’re so pleased that Youth Beatz is being supported by EventScotland. The funding from their National Programme Fund is really important to make sure this year’s event is as memorable as last years was. We’re sure everyone attending the event will have the best time, with more activities to take part in than ever.”

Youth Beatz 2019 is a free festival,  Tickets are available online at