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Home sweet home Looking ahead to the New Year, Creative Scotland director Andrew Dixon explains why successful cities make creative places

S ome of the most successful modern cities in Europe, from Amsterdam to Barcelona, Madrid to Venice, have come to be defined by their artistic and cultural lives. Likewise here in the UK there are many examples of cities that have, in their own way, used the arts and culture either for regeneration, tourism promotion or rebranding. Birmingham adopted its orchestra and ballet company and they take the city’s name around the world as a creative place; the same impact as achieved by Liverpool during its year as Capital of Culture in 2008. The fact is that culture helps define places and places define the culture of a nation.

I moved

to Creative Scotland from NewcastleGateshead where the Angel of the North, The Sage Gateshead, Baltic Contemporary Arts and other cultural projects have provided some of the best cultural venues in Europe for a city of its size, redefining its post-industrial image. The Sage Gateshead, a music venue, now employs more people than the Newcastle coal industry and works nationally and internationally; it hosted the World Summit on Arts and Culture and WOMEX, the world music expo in 2005. The Baltic is set to host the Turner Prize in 2011. Newsweek ran a major feature some years ago on the world’s most creative cities and put NewcastleGateshead in the top ten, but the journey to get there bridged two decades, changes of politicians and two recessions.

As I travel around Scotland, from Dumfries to Dunfermline, Skye to Orkney, it is clear that culture is already one of Scotland’s major success stories. Cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow make a huge contribution, through their festivals and events, to

promoting Scotland’s brand internationally. They are dynamic, creative places attracting people to live, work, learn and visit. Without doubt, they are amongst the most important cultural cities in Europe. A perfect example of a city that is re-defining its identity through culture is Dundee. Dundee Rep Theatre recently won the TMA Award for Best Musical Production in the UK for their show Sweeney Todd. Dundee Contemporary Arts is a thriving, much- loved local centre for uncompromising contemporary visual arts at the heart of the city, while festivals such as the recent NEoN Digital Arts Festival break new ground and reach new audiences. The vision to establish the V&A in Dundee offers the opportunity to re-invigorate its waterfront and build Dundee’s growing reputation in the visual arts, design and games fields.

Through Horsecross Art’s Home and Away project, the city of Perth is using culture, place and heritage as a central part of is anniversary celebrations. Further up the country we see Ullapool, a model of how passionate people make places work, with galleries, bookshops and creative businesses lining its streets. In the current financial climate, the real challenge for cities will be to find creative ways of financing and effectively securing their cultural activity for future generations. The question I am asking with places and local authorities across Scotland is: ‘what role do you play in a creative Scotland?’ Our culture defines who we are, where we are and our contribution to the world. Everywhere has a unique contribution to make and Scotland has so much to be proud of.

5 Things. . . SELF-SURGERY Following James Franco’s efforts in 127 Hours, we list the best DIY surgery movie scenes

1 Rambo: First Blood The image

of Sly Stallone sewing an open wound in his own

arm is still etched in many Rambo fans’ minds. During the middle of his ‘episode’ Stallone has to make use of his trusty toolkit to patch himself up. It’s a long way from Scouts.

2 Pan's Labyrinth

What's so painful about watching Captain Vidal sew

his own cheek back together isn't just the operation itself, but watching the villain, who we thought had been taken down, heal himself without any effort. The scene is one of the best in Guillermo del Toro's film.

3 No Country for Old Men Javier Bardem's character Anton Chigurh is a stand-out psycho in

the pantheon of modern cinema. His impenetrability and ruthlessness are two of his most defining villainous qualities, and in no scene are we given more of an insight into his (lack of) humanity than when he has to inflict pain upon himself.

4 Cast Away Self-removal of an aching tooth . . . using a rock. The tension and slow

realisation of what stranded Tom Hanks is doing is what makes this scene so nail-biting. Not thought of as Hanks' best film but a powerful scene nonetheless. As an aside, we were rather partial to the inanimate ‘Wilson’, the ball who helped save his sanity.

5 Wall-E He might be just a

lowly robot on a space journey to save, like, the whole

of mankind, but watching Pixar’s mighty Wall-E fend for himself as he transfers his spare parts gives the character more humanity than Captain Vidal or Anton Chigurh ever had. (Hamish Gibson) WWW.LIST.CO.UK Visit us daily for arts & entertainment news

6–20 Jan 2011 THE LIST 7