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Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT)

Facts & Figures

Organisation Name

Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT)

People Benefiting

The whole community, visitors to the area and regular audiences within 1 hour’s drive time

Area Served

The organisation is based in New Galloway, in south-west Scotland, and serves the four parishes of Carsphairn, Dalry, Balmaclellan and Kells in Dumfries and Galloway, approximately 300 sq miles


Around 2000


The Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT) was formed in 2001 as a direct result of the foot and mouth outbreak which severely knocked the area. The main aim of the trust has been to transform the derelict Victorian Kells Primary School into a centre for community, cultural and business activities. Within three months the local community had contributed enough funds to purchase the building and The CatStrand was on its way. Six years, and a £1 million fundraising campaign later, the building opened in September 2007. Named The CatStrand after the small stream which used to run underneath the building, the centre provides a wide range of quality arts, community and training activities for the residents of the Glenkens as well as being a tourist attraction in its own right.

Legal Form

Company Limited by guarantee with Charitable Status





Earned Income



The CatStrand Arts and Community Centre

Value of assets

1.2 m

Roots & Links


The Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT) was formed in 2001 as a direct result of the foot and mouth outbreak which severely knocked the area; at the same time there was a Community Horizons programme, an initiative led by the local authority, which encouraged local people to identify opportunities for regeneration and implement solutions.


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 9 Directors which meets on a monthly basis.

Community Links

GCAT has close links to the 4 Community Councils, local community groups and the 4 schools of the area many of which regularly use The CatStrand as a venue.

External Links

GCAT works closely with the local council, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the Department for Work and Pensions, the local health partnership, Age Concern, and many other regional and national organisations, including the Scottish Arts Council, Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association and the LEADER programme. Member of DTA Scotland.


Physical Hub

The old school has been transformed into The CatStrand, a vibrant, state-of-the-art community, arts and training centre that offers a range of facilities and services for local people and tourists.

Builds Local Capacity

There is a wide range of learning opportunities for local people to participate in, from helping out at events, providing refreshments, welcoming visitors at weekends, driving the community bus, providing technical support, contributing to the local newsletter and helping out with the development of the CatStrand garden. There is also a range of longer term possibilities for voluntary internships and placements for those keen to gain work experience in the arts, develop specific skills, or to help provide a first step back into employment.

Delivers Services

The CatStrand offers a wide range of facilities and services including:

  • A unique venue for conferences, meetings and training including high specification facilities, public internet access and catering provision
  • The History Stop, a focal point to help local people and tourists discover and enjoy the heritage of the Glenkens
  • A quality programme of national and international performing arts, including traditional music workshops, photographic and art exhibitions, comedy, storytelling, workshops, exhibitions, films and community events
  • The Teen Spirit project provides drop in sessions, counseling support and social opportunities for young people
  • RSAMD YouthWorks outreach programme provides traditional music instruction for young people
  • A support project for over 60s “Living Independently” provides workshops and classes including healthy living, tai chi and computer training
  • A community mini-bus service with disability access
  • Production and publication of a bi-monthly community newspaper
  • Design and implementation of the Jubilee walk
  • Mother and toddler groups music sessions
  • Business support

Develops/Manages Services

Acquired and developed the old school into a modern, vibrant community arts centre which GCAT now manages.


The CatStrand incorporates a number of energy efficient and renewable energy components (including a wood pellet boiler project) and has been named as “Scotland’s Greenest Arts Venue.”

Main Achievements

  • Raising £1million and transforming the old and run down Kells Primary School building into vibrant centre for the local community
  • LEADER+ Award, for Champions of Culture 2007
  • Arts & Business Scottish Awards 2007, winner in the category “Arts, Business & Community”
  • Glasgow Institute of Architects Design Award 2007
  • Forward Scotland Champions for Sustainable Communities Awards 2008 Finalist
  • 3 year revenue funding of £300,000 from The Big Lottery Fund to develop community activities and initiatives

What Next

Biggest Challenge

Securing and managing a large and complex funding package for the restoration has been the biggest challenge to date. Over 25 funding bodies, trusts and businesses contributed to the capital development costs of £1 million. This meant extensive management and monitoring when drawing down and reporting on grants.

Lesson Learned

The timescale from idea conception to the opening of the venue was longer than anticipated. The fundraising campaign especially was a lengthy and complicated process. The importance of vigorous research and consultation processes, with the development of business plans, feasibility studies and a track record for managing public funding was realised early on, as was the importance of having the local community on side and supporting the initiative.


The CatStrand will continue to develop long-term sustainable income streams and methods of working so that gradually there will be less dependence on public funding. Training, community provision and cultural activities will remain a priority in terms of the organisation’s output, but venue hire, conferences and retail sales will be increased to provide additional income to support the running of the centre.



Cathy Agnew/Rachel Tho


Chairman/Business Deve

Address Line 1

The CatStrand, New Galloway

Address Line 2



Castle Douglas


Dumfries and Galloway


01644 420374