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Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT)

Who We Are

Community Served

The Glenkens communities, visitors to the area and regular audiences within 1 hour’s drive time. We are based in New Galloway in Dumfries and Galloway (SW Scotland). The Glenkens are a collection of remote-rural villages spread over approximately 200 square miles with a population of about 3,000.

Legal Form / Governance

Company Limited by guarantee with Charitable Status.


There is an open membership of GCAT, although members must be resident in the Glenkens area. Members are eligible to vote at the AGM and nominate themselves or others as a Director. The Board is made up of up to 9 Directors and meets on a quarterly basis.


The Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT) was formed in 2001 as a direct result of the foot and mouth outbreak, to promote the economic regeneration of the area by transforming the derelict former Primary School in the heart of New Galloway into a centre for community and cultural activities.  Within 2 months, the local community had contributed enough funds to purchase the building and CatStrand was on its way.


Six years and a £1 million fundraising campaign later, GCAT opened CatStrand as a purpose-built arts venue that now hosts an innovative and diverse programme of creative arts to audiences from Glenkens and beyond.


In 2020, we opened The Smiddy , a multi-use space available for events, activities and hire.


We now employ 2 full-time and 19 part-time people (9 FTE) in the Glenkens, as well as commissioning many performers and activity deliverers, and also hosting external events.


Facts & Figures


Volunteers                             –                35


Staff                                           –                21

Turnover - Earned Income

Typical turnover                 –                £600,000


Assets                                      –                The CatStrand Arts Centre, The Smiddy multi-functional building, 4 minibuses (one of which is an eBus) – plus 1 eCar.


Value of assets                   –                £1.3 m


Key Networks

GCAT has close links to the 10 Community Councils of the Glenkens and District, local community groups and the local schools, many of which regularly use the CatStrand as a venue or work in partnership with us on community projects.


GCAT works closely with many regional and national arts organisations, including the Creative Scotland, DGArts and Dumfries and Galloway Regional Arts and Museums. We also have strong links with the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, D&G Council, Third Sector Dumfries & Galloway and the South of Scotland Enterprise. We are a member of DTA Scotland.

What We Do


Since the CatStrand opened in 2007, GCAT has consistently delivered high-quality arts and community development work for our remote-rural community.


We are a key anchor organisation for the area, with a vision of making the Glenkens an excellent place to live for people of all ages. We do this by:


  • Interweaving Arts, Community and Heritage to enrich the life of the area.
  • Delivering our Artistic Vision with passion and creativity.
  • Supporting many activities core to the quality of life of people and environment of the Glenkens.
  • Driving economic and social regeneration of the area through championing the delivery of the Glenkens & District Community Action Plan.


Our Artistic Vision comprises:


  • CatStrand Arts – a touring programme of the highest quality that attracts artists of national and international calibre to our welcoming venues.
  • Cultural Communities – a creative place-making programme which celebrates and amplifies the knowledge and passion of our local communities for their heritage and culture.
  • CatStrand Young Creatives – our youth arts programme which meets the needs of our young people from 5 to 25, sparking and nurturing interest in the arts and mentoring new careers in the sector.


As well as its artistic commitments, GCAT plays a central community development role in the Glenkens, evolved in response to local needs and led by our commitment to championing the Glenkens & District Community Action Plan – view here.


Our current community projects are:


  • Galloway Community Transport– with a fleet of 3 diesel minibuses, 1 eCar, 1 eMinibus and 8 eBikes, as well as a Patient Transport Service.
  • The Glenkens Gazette – our bi-monthly newsletter and the Glenkens Hub, our community website and Facebook page, bring our communities together and reflect and amplify their issues.
  • A suite of open-access activities designed to support mental health and wellbeing.
  • The Glenkens Community Spaces Network– supports and amplifies the work of the voluntary committees of our 19 Town and Village Halls
  • The Glenkens Youth Group – our undirected youth group that complements CatStrand Young Creatives and offers P7 – S3s a relaxed space to come together and meet new friends.
  • The Glenkens Men’s Shed– a welcoming space for people to share handiwork.
  • The CatStrand Cafe– a welcoming space for all, the only one open in the Glenkens at present.


In 2021 GCAT received a mandate from our communities to lead on delivery of the ‘Glenkens & District Community Action Plan’ – a clear plan to turn our community’s ambitions into action that makes a real difference. The CAP was published in 2020 and has 4 themes:


  • Connected Community
  • Asset-Rich Community
  • Economically Flourishing Community
  • Carbon Neutral Community


And a 2023 addendum: A Vision for Land Use in the Glenkens – view here


As part of this work, GCAT seeks to amplify community concerns around housing, Land Use, the local economy and energy efficiency, with a view to facilitating or catalysing action, either within the Glenkens or with regional or national partners.

Main Achievements

  • Raising £1million and transforming the old and run down Kells Primary School building into vibrant centre for the local community, which won the Glasgow Institute of Architects Design Award 2007.
  • Transforming a ruined Smiddy on Balmaclellan High Street into a multi-use space – more village-centre regeneration.
  • Employing 21 people without a local job (9 FTE) and typically investing around £600,000 in the local area annually (89% of turnover spent in D&G, 62% in the Glenkens).
  • Creating huge artistic opportunities for young people.
  • Creating welcoming and inclusive access to high-quality arts.
  • Offering Patient Transport services, school runs, scheduled bus runs and member hires.
  • Creating the Glenkens Gazette newsletter and sister website, making a huge contribution to the sense of the Glenkens as an identity.
  • Amplifying our community’s needs and concerns and making concrete steps to deliver outcomes for them through the Community Action Plan.


What's Next

Our aim is to continue to deliver high quality arts to a wide range of audiences and to meet the needs of our community in the context of the cost-of-living crisis and a very restricted funding landscape. Raising unrestricted funds to cover our energy and insurance bills and to pay the salaries of core staff is an ongoing challenge.


We are also keen to be ready to deliver the transformational projects around housing, Net Zero, transport and energy that our Community Action Plan has identified when funding allows, while not having the core support to work up those projects in the meantime.


We have diversified into income-earning projects such as our very successful café, a gift shop and venue hire, but it is hard for these to make a surplus during the cost-of-living crisis.


We need to keep investing in our IT systems to make sure we understand our business and are as efficient as possible.

Our people are our main asset and we need to keep investing in them to keep the passion and delivery of our exciting projects alive.

Our intention is to continue to work towards making the Glenkens an excellent place to live and achieve its aims of:

  • Interweaving Arts, Community and Heritage to enrich the life of the area.
  • Delivering our Artistic Vision with passion and creativity.
  • Supporting many activities core to the quality of life of people and environment of the Glenkens.
  • Driving economic and social regeneration of the area through championing the delivery of the Glenkens & District Community Action Plan.



Contact Name

Helen Keron

Contact's Role

Executive Manager


High St, New Galloway, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, DG7 3RN

Contact's Email

Website URL

X (twitter) Handle


Facebook Handle

GCAT / CatStrand

Instagram Handle