D-Lux Arts CIC & Jardine Funeral Directors
D-Lux Festival of Light
ANIMATION | COMBINED ARTS | FESTIVALS | STREET ARTS
Community & social empowerment | Environment | Equality, diversity & inclusion | Health & wellbeing
A story of rejuvenation and regeneration
Dumfries town centre, like many in Scotland, has struggled with the decline of the retail market with many of its shops and buildings now standing empty and falling into disrepair. There is little or no ‘after dark’ economy and D-Lux Arts CIC’s overarching aim for this project was to enable the town to be experienced in a new and playful way as a place that is both safe and inspiring at night. Alongside other organisations and events in the town, D-Lux Arts CIC want to support Dumfries town centre to reimagine its post-retail future.
In 2018, the Festival’s second year consisted of three elements. Firstly, an imaginative take on town illuminations was installed, creating a spectacular light-filled space in the centre of town. From the upper floors of empty buildings, high power spotlights were used to create a video game effect by dropping changing patterns of pools of white light onto the pedestrian precinct below. With the permission of Dumfries & Galloway Council, the iconic, listed Midsteeple clock face was lit up with colourful projections and strobe lighting, while LED colour-change wash lights were used in window spaces to create night-time interest in buildings otherwise largely held in darkness on their upper floors.
The second strand was Our Moon, a new projected animation piece for Dumfries, based on the faces of residents and created by artists Hannah Fox and Jason Threlfall. It became a friendly, watchful eye over the town centre through the winter. Thirdly, Whose Hoose was a commission by The Stove Network featuring an interactive video jukebox offering 30-second video tracks created by artists and the community. This played from dusk until 11pm with members of the public able to select the films they would like to see. Following the launch of Whose Hoose, seven workshops were held with the people of Dumfries, generating a further 20 films.
Jardine Funeral Directors has been established in Dumfries for over 100 years and enjoys a trusted relationship with the local community. Mark Jardine, the business’s CEO, was keen to support D-Lux Arts CIC in an effort to boost the town’s regeneration and, quite literally, shine a ray of light on some of its abandoned buildings in the dark days of winter. As a long-standing resident and respected business owner, Mark was also able to garner useful feedback and insights directly from townspeople, on an informal basis, which both influenced planning meetings and facilitated new relationships with other local businesses.
The partnership has also provided a channel for Jardine’s to engage with the community in a way that contrasts with their usual role. The firm collaborates closely with the festival organisers, and the positive associations of light and hope, regeneration and rejuvenation reflect the business’s values of trust and compassion.
Now in its third year, the D-Lux Festival of Light has emerged as a vibrant and growing community-based event that has gained real traction among local people and businesses in Dumfries, with an audience reach of an estimated 5,000 people. New commissions support the work of professional artists while bringing tired areas of town into the spotlight in a positive and visually exciting way.
With the benefits of a three-year commitment, CBFS match funding has broadened the scope of the festival, which is now also supported both practically and financially by Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN), who provide rigging crews and equipment for essential work at height. In addition, D-Lux Arts CIC has established a new relationship with property developers, Wirefox, who own and operate around 50% of the buildings on the southern end of Dumfries High Street. The support received from CBFS has significantly underpinned the Festival’s viability and credentials.
Creating paid opportunities for young people to gain skills and experience in technical as well as artistic roles is a key aim for the organisers, who are keenly aware that the sustainability of local arts-based festivals rests on appropriate skills development in the area. A major gain for D-Lux Arts CIC came in the form of a young paid intern in Year 2, 2018. Kieran Nordon, a film and media student on sabbatical, was given electrical and health and safety induction training by SPEN, and further technical instruction from the technical director and contracted lighting technician. He became an integral part of the festival team, and went on to work as a full crew member in 2019, with a new technical intern taking up his previous role.