News Opportunities Projects

Some themes brought to the fore by COVID

Themes that The Stove have collectively been thinking about during the Lockdown and which we are proposing as areas of exploration for the commissions within the Atlas Pandemica: Maps to a Kinder World project.

 1. Decision-making 

What has been our experience of leadership? How has power in influence been balanced between local and centralised decision-making? What examples and lessons are there about how ordinary people and communities have played a part in influencing how we are coping with the pandemic in South West Scotland? What new relationships have been formed between the formal and informal networks around us? Maybe a research residency within Dumfries and Galloway Council? 

2. Stories 

COVID is something we will be talking about for many generations – what stories we tell and how we tell them is a vital role of culture and the arts in society. What are the stories relevant to life in a post-pandemic society? Who are the storytellers? What stories bare the most relevance for our locality? What are the myths/folklore we can rely upon to help instruct, warn and guide our lives through this? What do stories do? What functions do they fulfil and what ways can they be used now? 

3. Food 

Food is so much more than fuel – it is central to gestures of care and hospitality. Finding new ways to share food has renewed old relationships, maintained existing ones and created new ones. The reality of how our food supplies work and their production processes have never been more clearly revealed, or, the contrast with local food production and infrastructure – where next for how we nourish ourselves as a society? What are the possibilities in the local supply? How do we nurture a responsibility towards sustainability in the purchase of food? What is the ‘growing culture’ locally and how do we develop this?

4. Travel 

Cars have been off the roads and bikes and people have been on them. The distances that separate our communities, regions and communities suddenly seem similar to how they must have appeared a hundred years ago. Yet, public transport now seems dangerous and cars a protective bubble – does this herald a new era of even starker divisions between those who can afford to be safe and those who cannot…or is this an opportunity to rethink how we move about from first principles? 
Particularly in a region whose sparse population is geographically spread out, what do digital technologies mean to our ideas of distance and proximity? 

5. Communities 

Mobile communities, communities of interest, geographic communities, temporary communities…our separateness and connectivity as groups of people has been questioned, revealed, side-lined and speculated upon by COVID. Yet fundamentally our future has to work for all of us – what can an understanding of particular groups and their relationship to how the structures of our shared existence function tell us about how we re-organise ourselves from here. 

6. End of Life 

Funerals, grief, how people reach the end of their lives and the role of communities, families and the state. How we die, how our families and friends mark death, and how our society supports our passing. Mapping and understanding a culture of death. 

7. The Public Sphere 

What are public spaces for now? Do we still need town centres and public places to gather and express our commonality and our difference? What will activate public places now with traditional retail in even sharper decline? What uses can we find for newly empty buildings and other public places? How do we maintain social cohesion through the act of gathering in the aftermath of the pandemic? Can our public spaces be re-purposed in a time of time of social distance? 

8. Care 

COVID has shone a light on care in our society from care homes to hospitals, from public health to mental health from education to families. We have seen how deeply we depend on those who care in our society – what have we learned and where do we go from here? What a does a localized approach to care in our communities mean? What are the resources currently available and how does our society seek to nurture our wellbeing and engrain mental resilience in tackling the problems before us? 

9. Diversity and under-represented groups 

In times of extreme urgency, it is all too easy for the needs and opinions of the ‘majority’ to dominate. But if the voices of less represented groups are not heard now and heard with as much urgency as other voices, how do we hear those voices and their essential messages and build a future that celebrates diversity and difference?  

10. Hospitality 

Welcoming places and communities are crucial to economic industries like tourism – and much of our social code as a society is built around ancient principles of hospitality. How do we re-imagine hospitality in an age when people entering a place or group potentially bring a health risk with them or put themselves at risk by travelling. Has this traditional behaviour found new meanings and value in a time of crisis? 

11. Nature and the natural world 

Awareness and appreciation of the natural world has been one of the universal experiences of COVID. What new understandings have been revealed about our relationship to the natural world, when it can both support and endanger us. 
We have seen unprecedented reductions in carbon emissions and immediate impacts in the environment around us. Possible themes of preservation, resource, healing and the boundaries of the human and non-human world. How do we embed this new learning in our common future?  

12. Creativity – creative structures and processes 

What is the role of creativity in times of crisis? What are the implications of COVID for creative practice? What will be the future function of our cultural buildings? What part can creativity play in the new world and communities that we are all making together? 

13. Relational vs Transactional systems 

To date, the world we have all shared has been overwhelmingly been based on the logic of transactions – attributing monetary value to things and then exchanging, goods, services etc on that basis. COVID has exposed the fundamental importance of the way things make us feel – how we relate to each other and the world around us. Could we strike a new balance between the relational and the transactional in a new future? 

14. Enterprise and localised economy 

As we emerge from lockdown it is likely that many, many people will find themselves newly unemployed. There will be newly empty premises and many people will be forced to move home. What are the opportunities and ideas for creating the conditions for new initiatives, projects and businesses to start? As a region can we create a new economy based on our local assets – one that retains prosperity locally and forges a new relationship with urban centres and countries? 

News Opportunities Projects

Call Out for Eight Commissions

We believe that a creative voice is vital in the conversation about the futures being planned for our communities. To that end, we are gathering together creative practitioners, from all walks of life, to work collectively on a project that will examine the way our society is reacting to the COVID pandemic and make creative responses to what is happening and what could happen in the future.  


The pandemic is both local and global as it is lived by individuals and communitiesAbove all, it is a collective experience, and one that must be looked at through different scales of magnification to reveal the different truths and insights about relations between individuals, communities and the larger influences in our lives; and some of the inequalities embedded within these, as well as the positive possibilities. 
Over the last few months we have all seen and sometimes participated in many, many examples of cooperation, generosity and care.  Maps to a Kinder World is a means of creatively learning and building on these informal networks and gestures of human solidarity. Can an Atlas Pandemica help reveal the real power of the local for the way we live together with each other and the environment into the future? 
Atlas Pandemica: Maps to a Kinder World is one means to support creative voices to be heard and offers an opportunity for new thinking, actions and innovations. 

‘Plan of Organization of New York and Erie Railroad’ by Daniel Craig McCallum (1855)

We are looking for eight people to work on the project. Each will be given a separate commission to explore a theme. Projects will be of an action research nature – working alongside people, groups, organisations and agencies to learn and engage, then making creative responses to the research that deepens understanding and the potential for further participation and development of ideas. Each of the eight creative journeys will be seen as a map (in the widest sense) that will be gathered together in an atlas of Maps to a Kinder World that can be used to help our region navigate to a new future from the COVID pandemic. 

We very much hope that you will be interested to take part in the project, if so, please do get in touch. We would like to hear from creative practitioners with an initial response to the project and proposal of what they would like to research and with which communities, people and organisations. We have identified a list of a themes that are intended to give an idea of the direction we imagine the project going in.We’d like you to respond to one of these and propose an approachyou would take to developing this. All options that engage with local activity and aim to enhance the future for communities are valid – we are committed to the idea that we are navigating uncharted territory.Supporting the greatest diversity of approach and people is our aim. 

Please follow this link for the proposed themes for Atlas Pandemica.

Helen Walsh ‘Feathers for Hope: Homegrown commission for Stove Network’ 2020

The Commissions: 

We are offering eight separate commissions to take part in the project. These are available to individual creative practitioners or teams (see Background and Criteria below). Each commission will receive an all-inclusive fee of £3,500 and the project is planned to last for approximately 5 months (NB we live in times defined by uncertainty). 
Commissioned practitioners will be supported by The Stove Network in terms of project management, partnership working and personal support. This project is about kindness and mutuality and we aim to create a collective support network around Atlas Pandemica with regular group check-ins and opportunities to share insights and learning across the group for the benefit of all. Sharing of work in progress will be an important feature of the project as it exists within an incredibly fluid and changing context. Commissioned practitioners will be working with the project’s co-curators (Robbie Coleman and Matt Baker) to develop their work in a form that can sit alongside the work of others to be presented as part of a collection of ‘maps’ in the Atlas Pandemica.

Please download the background and criteria for the project here.

‘Notabilia’ Visualising Deletion Discussions on Wikipedia. Moritz Stefaner, Dario Tarabelli and Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia

To Apply: 

Please send us: 

  • A statement of no more than 500 words stating how you would propose to approach being part of this project. Please include your theme of study and whom and how you would propose working with to explore this. 
  • Current CV 
  • Up to 4 examples of past work that you feel best supports your application – this can be in any form (images, films, texts, testimonials etc, links to online video or other online resources, etc) 
  • Please send by email to with a maximum file size of 10MB 
  • The deadline for receiving submissions is 5pm on Wednesday 17th June 
  • Interviews for the commissions will be held virtually on 30th June and 1st and 2nd July. By applying you are deemed to be making yourself available for interview on one of these dates. 
  • We will always send an email acknowledging receipt of any applications. If you do not receive an email, please contact us again by email. 
  • If you require specific support when making an application please let us know 

Atlas Pandemica: maps to a Kinder World is supported by Scottish Government’s ‘Supporting Communities Fund’ 

News Research

Creative Placemaking – a local phenomena in the South of Scotland


A major report into Creative Placemaking by The Stove Network has recently been released. It presents an in-depth investigation into the importance, impact and potential influence of Creative Placemaking for the local economy and wellbeing of communities in South of Scotland.

EMBERS report aims to ignite creative and culturally-led regeneration by exploring the work and experience in Dumfries & Galloway and helping to define a joined-up vision for work in Creative Placemaking for the South of Scotland. Embers presents Creative Placemaking as a collaborative practice that uses the tools of arts, culture and creativity to work as part of our communities, responding to local needs to build a better quality of place.

In this time when community responses and collective action is at the front of everyone’s minds, there is a long history of community activity in the South of Scotland with people coming together to look at the future of their towns and villages. A common factor across many of these projects is the involvement and often leadership of creative people that are already embedded in their communities and collaborative activity with the arts, culture and creative industries.

“What we hope is that the Embers Report will be a map, advocacy document and proposal for support needed to further advance the really great work in placemaking that we can see happening in our communities. People are doing amazing things as part of their communities, bringing all sorts of life experience, expertise and ideas together to make a better place for everyone who lives there. Ideas don’t always work but when they do they are making a real difference in people’s lives.”

Katharine Wheeler, Curatorial Team Member and lead on the Embers report.

The Embers report was produced with the support of South of Scotland Economic Partnership (the forerunner of the new South of Scotland Enterprise agency) and Carnegie Trust UK. Embers involved six months detailed consultation with people and projects working in local communities including Dumfries, Sanquhar, Lockerbie, Langholm, Moniaive, Stranraer and Wigtown.

With the coming of the Borderlands Growth initiative and South of Scotland Enterprise, there’s an unprecedented opportunity for the South of Scotland to create genuinely bespoke development strategies, suited to its unique character. Creative Placemaking should be at the heart of this through the way that communities are coming together to develop new social enterprises and place-based projects.

“We hope to continue to support Embers to strengthen local government collaboration with community groups and local enterprise, to enable communities to improve their own wellbeing according to local priorities.”

– Pippa Coutts, Research and Development consultant for Carnegie Trust UK.

The Embers report puts forward a series of clear recommendations which contributors hope will be taken forward by regional and national agencies operating in the South of Scotland.

Effective Creative Placemaking engages communities at grassroots level, building on the existing culture, activity and relationships in each place. It brings people, communities, groups and organisations together to co-develop better strategies for our places. It uses Creative Industries and spans Community Development sectors contributing to long-term social outcomes for our communities.

The Creative Industries play an important role in our towns, particularly at this time. It is vital that our region supports its creative sector, which has been such a success story in recent years. There are currently more people working in the Creative Industries in the South of Scotland than there are in agriculture, yet many of the people working in this industry are freelance and self-employed and the COVID-19 crisis has taken a terrible toll on these important local businesses. The Embers report presents a road map for integrating creative businesses into communities and the future inclusive economy of our area.

“How can we, as a creative agency for change, make things slightly different here.”

– Lucy MacLeod, Creative Director for Outpost Arts, Langholm

The Embers report is available to download by here: Embers Report  

For a Clear Text Version: Embers Report – Clear Text Version

If people have ideas about how this vision can be taken forward please do get in touch with Katharine by emailing


Latest Support Schemes for Newly Self Employed and SMEs

On Thursday 30th April, three new support schemes were launched by the Scottish Government to add support to those not eligible for the current UK Government schemes, including the newly self employed and SME (small-medium sized enterprises). Full details of these are below, with thanks to MSP Colin Smyth for sharing this information with us for our networks.
The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund is for self-employed people facing hardship and who were not eligible for the existing scheme as a result of having set up just within the last year. You can read more about eligibility for this scheme here and apply for the scheme through Dumfries and Galloway Council here or by calling the local helpline on 01387 260280. Successful applicants will receive a one-off payment of £2,000.
There is a new Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund for small creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of COVID-19 business rates relief. The fund is open to:

  • Companies up to 49 employees
  • Experienced at least a 50% loss of current or projected revenue
  • Not in financial difficulty pre 31th December 2019
  • Are not in receipt of other COVID-19 government support, except Coronavirus Job Retention ‘Furlough’ Scheme
  • Not for pre-revenue companies
  • Must have a business bank account

You can find more information about this scheme here or by calling 0300 303 0660.
Although it may be less relevant to many of our network, for information a Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund was also opened today and information on this is available here. This grant is for businesses that can play a critical role in supporting Scotland’s recovery but need some immediate support. It might be to get back up and running or to maintain or diversify your current operations.