Midsteeple Quarter – a Public Survey


UPDATE: SURVEY CLOSED ON FRIDAY 13th JANUARY – 803 people completed it

Our project partners University of the West of Scotland (UWS) have now started an online survey about Midsteeple Quarter to allow more people to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the project and to sign up to be part of our growing band of folk supporting Midsteeple Quarter as a community initiative.
Please do share the survey with your pals and fill it in yourselves to register your own thoughts about the types of housing etc that you’d like to see in the town centre:

  • Link to the survey is here
  • Link to Facebook Post about the survey is here

In the first 4 days of the survey being live more than 700 people have taken part – when you add the new ‘sign-ups’ from this group to the new folk who have signed the Dumfries Pledge in The Stove this last two weeks…then this support group for Midsteeple Quarter will have grown to well in excess of 400 folk!! Lets do this….

The Dumfries Pledge in The Stove Cafe with people’s ideas for the High Street and Midsteeple Quarter display

A Day At Off the Record – A Short Review


As a young musician playing in a “neo-folk” duo, I was under the impression that it was vital that you had to play an instrument to be able to work within the industry. I have never be more disillusioned! Last weekend my band member and I attended Off The Record at The Stove in Dumfries, an event where anyone from 14 to 25 interested in working within the music industry could learn about all it’s key factors and how important they are.
The event was a series of seminars and talks from lots of different speakers who came from lots of different parts of the music industry. These talks ranged from learning about organising and getting gigs, producing and releasing music, working within the music industry, promoting your or your band’s music and getting the best images to promote your music and style.

There were many elements of the day that I found very informative including a presentation on realising music by Toni Malyn who works with EmuBands. He gave a step by step talk on how to get your music heard through companies such as Spotify, he also gave us useful information on how to release covers of other artists’ songs – this was something that we as a band duo found especially helpful. We learnt what the term “derivative work” meant from Toni, a phrase that has definitely stuck with me.
We also got the opportunity to listen to Nick Roberts, who is part of the team who run the very successful festival Electric Fields each year. He gave us a good insight of what his job was and how important it is to be a band or musician who is “good to work with”. He explained that you could be a rock star on stage but it is vital that you can work well with the organisers as it makes their jobs easier and everything runs smoothly. I thought that this piece of information was something that was very rudimentary but the most important.
He also gave some communication tips and how using emails effectively is also important. I was completely amazed as to how many bands copied and pasted emails to companies and promoters – I discovered that a “personal touch” can really go a long way within the industry.

We also got the chance listen to Jannica Honey, a well experienced photographer who has taken photos of bands such as The Killers. She gave us a presentation on the do’s and dont’s of music photography and provided helpful and nifty tips on creating the best photography so you or your band could get the best image for your sound and your style. She gave you simple questions to ask yourself like “who are you as a band or musician?” And “what and where does your music represent?” These simple questions made me really analyse our own band and where and what we symbolise.
Off The Record also highlighted a really fundamental part of the music industry – promoting your music. Derick Mackinnon of New Found Sound spoke about press packs and how using social media a lot can be a really great way to promote your music. This last talk was a really excellent way to wrap up the rest of day.
Attending Off The Record has really opened my eyes about the music industry and the amazing and unexpected destinations it can take you to, it isn’t just about playing music on a stage – there are numerous other jobs within the music business from sound engineering to promoting and even taking photos. It was less daunting to know how many career paths within music there really are. It was also really nice to hear humble advice such as “Be supportive to other bands” and “Flattery will get you everywhere” – modest guidance like that definitely reminded me of the excitement and enjoyment within the industry, and why I would really love to have a career in music whether it is playing in bands, promoting or even writing about it.

As a young musician, I would highly recommend going to Off The Record if you have the opportunity to. If you are a musician or interested in following a career within music then Off The Record is a phenomenal event where you can get a taste for it. It will open your eyes and fill your soul with first-hand knowledge from the best kind of people who have been there and done that.

By Isla Gracie of Taagan

Find out more about Isla’s band Taagan, online here


Stove awarded best Creative Regeneration Project in Scotland!

We have received some great news to end the year – The Stove Network has been awarded the best Creative Regeneration Project in Scotland 2016! The prestigious Scottish Urban Regeneration Form (SURF) Awards took place in Glasgow last week, at the Award presentation dinner. Launched in 2003, these awards have become the benchmark for best practice and innovation in community regeneration in Scotland. This is an award for everyone connected to The Stove. We’ve all been a part of making a new momentum of change in Dumfries – whether taking part in projects, attending events, or simply being a member and telling others that The Stove is something worth checking out.


During their visit to the Stove back in October, the judges of the SURF Awards noticed a buzz about the town and could see that a big part of that was down to The Stove. It’s fantastic that other people are looking at Dumfries as somewhere that is trying out new ideas. The SURF Awards are a way of profiling and sharing these ideas. It’s been great to find out about other projects across Scotland as well, and we’re really pleased to be have been nominated alongside them

The judges commented, “The Stove Network demonstrates that a strong and uncompromising creative vision stimulates debate, giving the local community a greater voice in issues affecting Dumfries, from frequent flooding to high street regeneration. It was clear that The Stove Network has had a significant and transformational impact on Dumfries, and that the energy and drive demonstrated by the creative team, their partners and the wider community will continue to revitalise Dumfries and make a real difference to the place and to people’s lives.”


The SURF Awards identifies and celebrates success in revitalising Scottish communities. The other projects shortlisted alongside Dumfries were from Easterhouse in Glasgow and Falkirk. Since 1998, the SURF Awards have promoted regeneration initiatives, large and small from across Scotland. Town centres are now looking at different ways of sustaining themselves, and creativity and the arts have a big part to play in this.


Chapter One offers Doonhamers the chance to buy back High Street

Over 15th and 16th November, The Stove Network led a two-day event in the Bakers Oven on Dumfries High Street to talk to people about bold new plans for the town centre. Midsteeple Quarter is an innovative way to encourage people to live back in the town through a community-led company developing a section of the High Street as a live/work quarter. Over the past year The Stove has consulted with members of the community and a consensus has emerged that re-populating the town centre is a major part of any plan to bring new life back to the High Street.

Chapter One
Chapter One at The Baker’s Oven, Dumfries.

Over the last year we have noticed a real shift in attitudes – in the past people tended to look to the Council to do everything. Now the conversation has changed to ‘what can we do ourselves?’. This is a very positive change and one that has been confirmed by the number of local groups becoming part of the Midsteeple Quarter project – these include: Loreburn Community Council, Third Sector D&G, Unviversity of West of Scotland, NHS D&G, Crichton Institute, Upland, MakLab Dumfries and many more including the Council.

The Bakers Oven became a lively project hub over the 15th and 16th November, featuring a pop up living room, discussions and workshops. It also featured the exhibition, ‘People’s Dumfries’; a collection of Dumfries inspired artworks, including models of buildings within the town by Frank Brown. The Bakers Oven also played host to in house writer and Stove Curatorial Team Member, Martin Joseph O’Neill. Through the night of the 15th November, Martin spent 12 hours writing as part of ongoing project – Midnight Moonlight Smalltown Rain. Words and thoughts appeared in real time on the windows of the Bakers Oven. Come dawn, the story was complete.


Over 100 people signed up to ‘The Dumfries Pledge’ in support of community development in the town and people also shared their stories of old Dumfries and contributed to the vision for a Midsteeple Quarter. Suggestions included a focus on the Whitesands as a tourist destination and entry point to the town, affordable live/work premises in the town centre to encourage new enterprises, bringing services like healthcare and education into the town centre and more of a focus on the history of the town, with Tour Guides and History Tours throughout the region.

Chapter One

People’s comments and plans from the exhibition will be on show in the Stove Café from Tuesday 29th November for the town to continue to comment and get involved. The project recently received a boost at the beginning of this week with news of seed funding from The Scottish Government’s Activating Ideas Fund. This will allow the local community’s ideas to be taken to the next stage of reality and The Stove building will continue to be the information point for the project. Anyone interested in contributing or signing up to the Dumfries Pledge is encouraged to drop in or get in touch with The Stove –

Chapter One