Dundee Contemporary Arts

dcaThe DCA opened on March 20 1999, but the idea of establishing a visual arts centre in Dundee had been discussed by many concerned parties from the mid-1980s. In particular, there was a desire to both nurture the students and graduates of the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (now a faculty of the University of Dundee and one of the leading art colleges in the UK) and to build upon the work of those involved with the (now defunct) Seagate Gallery and Dundee Printmakers' Workshop. Additionally, it was hoped that the project would replace and improve upon the only arthouse cinema in Dundee - the part-time Steps Theatre, which closed when the DCA, with its two-screen (and full-time) cinema, opened.

Initiated by Dundee City Council, a partnership was formed between the Council, the University of Dundee and a newly-formed company, Dundee Contemporary Arts. In March 1995, the Council purchased a semi-derelict garage at 152 Nethergate, favoured due to its geographical proximity to the Dundee Repertory Theatre and the University. At the time of purchase, the building was being used as an unofficial skatepark by local skateboarders. Although the creative usage intended for the building was seen as a positive outcome by many skateboarders (as opposed to it become just a car park or a block of flats), it still led to some resentment towards the Council amongst skateboarders, who had invested their time and money cleaning up the original three-storey building and constructing several elaborate, custom-fit ramps. The resentment was primarily due to the inability of the Council to provide a place to store the ramps they had built, due to this the ramps had to be destroyed. It was not until May 1998, when a local church invested £43,000 pounds in a new skatepark, that the issue was finally resolved. Many skateboarders are still hoping for some kind of Exhibition to celebrate its former usage!