Dundee Contemporary Arts

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Dundee Contemporary Arts

Dundee Contemporary Arts (abbreviated DCA) is an art centre in the city of Dundee, Scotland which houses two contemporary art galleries, a two-screen cinema, a print studio, a visual research centre and a café bar.


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 Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (now a school 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 DCA, with its two-screen (and full-time) cinema, opened.

Initiated by Dundee Printmakers Workshop (Chaired by Sheena Bell and Vice Chair Douglas Black), a partnership was formed between the Council, the University of Dundee and a newly formed company, Dundee Contemporary Arts, led by Sheena Bell (founding Chair), Douglas Black, Steve Grimmond, Ian Howard, John McDougall and Charles McKean. 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, although at least one former skateboarder (Scott Myles) has held a solo exhibition in the centre's galleries.[citation needed]

The subsequent international design competition to create a new building was won in July 1996 by Richard Murphy Architects. The resulting building was instantly hailed as an innovative modern space. The final cost of the construction was £9 million. The centre currently receives approximately 300,000 visitors per year. On the whole, most local people in Dundee believe DCA to be a success, although some (particularly callers to the local phone-in radio show, the Tay Talk-In) have criticised it for exhibiting modern, conceptual art at the expense of more traditional work.

In addition to the art shows and films, DCA has also hosted festivals such as Kill Your Timid Notion which combine experimental music with expanded avant garde cinema and symposia.

The current director of DCA is Beth Bate.


  • Art Gallery: A large variety of local, national and international artists have had their work presented at DCA, including: Beck's Futures prize winner Roderick Buchanan, Turner Prize winner Simon Starling, Turner Prize nominee Fiona Banner, acclaimed video artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila, and illustrator and textile designer Johanna Basford.[1]
  • Print Studio: DCA print studio offers a range of classes for both professional and amateur artists and also complete beginners.
  • Two-Screen Cinema: DCA's cinema has screened a variety of works, from blockbusters such as The Da Vinci Code to Andy Warhol's rarely seen 1960's "Screen Tests" series. For the most part, however, it screens classic and modern arthouse cinema.
  • Visual Research Centre: Unlike many visual research centres, the one run between DCA and the University of Dundee is open to the public. The Centre itself is staffed by researchers and PhD students belonging to the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.


  1. ^ "DCA Annual Report" (PDF). www.dca.org.uk. DCA. 2014. 

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Coordinates: 56°27′26″N 2°58′29″W / 56.45709°N 2.974796°W / 56.45709; -2.974796