Categories
News

Region Chosen for National Culture Programme

We are delighted to announce that The Stove Network have won a place for Dumfries and Galloway in a major Scottish initiative for culture and creativity to play a key role in the nation’s long-term recovery from the pandemic. The Culture Collective programme will see £6M invested by Scottish Government in 26 regional projects around the country, developed in partnership with Creative Scotland. The Dumfries & Galloway project ‘What We Do Now’ was granted the maximum award of £300,000. 

The principle of Culture Collective is to pay creative freelancers, who have seen livelihoods decimated by the pandemic, to work in community settings and support local groups who have also been badly impacted by Covid-19. The Stove Network worked together with agencies such as Dumfries & Galloway Council, South of Scotland Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Third Sector D&G and local arts organisations to bring together a proposal for Dumfries and Galloway that will see creative practitioners employed to work for up to a year in Sanquhar, Dalbeattie, Langholm, Stranraer and Northwest Dumfries. In Sanquhar, our lead organisation is A’ the Airts, in Langholm OutPost Arts, in NW Dumfries LIFT D&G, in Dalbeattie Birchvale Theatre and in Stranraer, Stranraer Millennium Centre.

This is wonderful news and a very powerful recognition of the way that Dumfries and Galloway considers culture and creativity as something that is integrated into the heart of the way we do things in communities, in the economy and in the environment in our region. Culture is not something for an elite; it is something that belongs to all of us and something that we all make together. Culture Collective is part of our country’s commitment to ‘build back better’ – it uses years of dedicated work at grassroots level as the foundation for a major pilot project to devolve decision-making and funding to local level and create the conditions for partnership working across sectors to ensure the legacy of this approach.

In the coming weeks, we will coordinate development work in the five D&G communities towards creating detailed briefs for creatives to work within. It is anticipated that adverts for people to work on the project will be published in mid-March. The Stove’s project for Culture Collective is called ‘What We Do Now’ and builds on the group’s ‘Embers: Creative Placemaking for the South of Scotland’ report which was published in April 2020. Embers highlights the central role that culture and creativity are playing in community regeneration projects around the region and presents a case for investing in a networked and integrated approach to placemaking in Dumfries and Galloway, employing creativity as a key tool in community planning.

‘What We Do Now’ is all about imagining today, the world we wish to exist in and making the steps towards creating that world now. A world shaped by the gifts and ideas of the communities we belong to and serve. It explores and brings to the surface, the voices previously unheard in our region so that we can empower ideas and communities, through creativity, to celebrate and cherish the places that we live.

All of the communities involved in the ‘What We Do Now’ project were partners in Embers. All have identified sections of their own community where COVID has accentuated existing disadvantage and exclusion and have some experience of working culturally. Each community will be supported to commission freelance creative practitioners who will co-create original projects with people in the targeted sections of that community.

Yvonne Barber, Project Manager for A’ the Airts in Sanquhar commented: ‘A’ the Airts is excited to be participating in this exciting collaborative project. Our community in Upper Nithsdale will benefit immensely from A’ the Airts having further artistic capacity to work with local communities. Partnership and sharing good practice can only be positive, strengthening and building peoples’ skills, and more importantly their well-being.’

For more information on Culture Collective, click here.

Categories
News Opportunities

We’re hiring: Community & Membership Liaison

Are you a people person looking for a new challenge; something that uses your skills and has meaning and purpose? We are looking for a special person to join our small team. We’re passionate about making a difference locally and need someone to help us connect with our membership, support volunteers and be part of delivering projects that target need in our community.

The Stove Network is a well-established social enterprise in the centre of Dumfries, we use creativity as a tool to support people and groups to Learn, Create and Change. We are also a hub for people working in the creative sector, be they musicians, filmmakers, artists, fundraisers, community activists, etc.

We are offering an opportunity for someone who is a brilliant communicator, with a flair for organisation and being in the right place at the right time. The job we are offering is Community & Membership Liaison and we’re looking for someone who will grab the chance with both hands and make it their own … is that you?

It’s a full-time job in Dumfries for an initial one-year contract and it pays £20,000 pa.

Please download the details here: 

To apply for the position, please complete the application form and send it, along with your CV, to graham@thestove.org.We will confirm receipt as soon as possible.

Deadline for applications: 5pm on Friday 26th February 2021

Interviews will be held on Wednesday 3rd of March 2021. We would like to make sure that our recruitment process is as open as possible, so if you’d like to discuss any accessibility requirements, or have questions about the opportunity in general, please get in touch with Graham via graham@thestove.org or phone 07714 294856.

This position is possible through the support of the Scottish Government’s Investing in Communities fund.

Categories
News Opportunities

We’re hiring: Finance & Funding Development Manager

The Stove Network is seeking a Finance & Funding Development Manager to take a senior role within a dedicated core team running an award-winning, creative organisation that is playing a leading role in community-led placemaking initiatives in Dumfries and South West Scotland.

Over the last ten years The Stove has built a national and international reputation for using creativity to engage and involve people in taking an active part in re-imagining and shaping the places they live through an innovative programme of activity across artforms, sectors and communities. We are in receipt of Regular Funding from Creative Scotland, have established working partnerships with regional and national agencies and generate additional income from commissioned and self-initiated projects. 

We are looking for someone with the ambition and ethos to use their skills in finance and organisational and strategic thinking to make a fundamental contribution to the way The Stove Network works with our partners, those we employ and the community we serve. We care deeply about who we work with, and the way we work with them, if you are looking for an opportunity to really make a difference and work as part of an inspiring team of like-minded folk then please get in touch to find out more.

The Finance & Funding Development Manager is a part-time job, 3 days per week, in Dumfries (but remotely in line with Covid guidelines) for an initial one-year contract. The salary will be £32,000 (£19,200 pro rated) which is negotiable, dependent on experience.

Please download the Job Pack with job description and further details – see below.

To apply for the position, please send a covering letter and your CV to Ailsa Watson at ailsa@thestove.org. We will confirm receipt as soon as possible.

Deadline for applications: 5pm on Friday 5th February 2021

Interviews will be held on Thursday 11th of February, most likely via Zoom. We would like to make sure that our recruitment process is as open as possible, so if you’d like to discuss any accessibility requirements, or have questions about the opportunity in general, please get in touch with Ailsa via ailsa@thestove.org or phone 07854 096282 (Mon, Wed, Thu 10-4pm).

Categories
Musings News

2021: The Stove at 10 Years

‘For me, the question of democracy also opens up the question of what does it mean to be truly human. And it seems to me that we need to recognize that to develop the best humanity, the best spirit, the best community, there needs to be discipline, practices of exploring. How do you do that? How do we work together? How do we talk together in ways that will open up our best capacities and our best gifts?’

Vincent Harding

Looking back, looking forward

Our first foot into the New Year might seem like little has changed. With a new spike rolling in with the first snowfall of January, a third lockdown begins. And as we huddle further into our little worlds the news cycle spins and bounces off the walls with the discovery of a vaccine. And for now, we carry on.

2021 marks ten years of the Stove’s work. And we’re immensely proud of what’s been achieved in that time; from festivals and events to community buy-outs and river races. Together with our community, we’ve shaped a new vision not only for the arts but also for the vital role that communities and creativity play in the shaping of our town.

This year, we’re focused on sharing and learning together again so that we can build and support new and ambitious ideas from the voices hitherto unheard across the region.

As of December, the Stove has been focused on building a programme of new projects that will allow us to delve deeper into connecting communities, ideas and creativity together. We want to build new connections, routes and opportunities for learning across our membership and wider region.

This year we want to discover new voices, train and support new ideas as well as deepen our relationship to the places beyond the town center.

We will do this by:

  • Creating new spaces for people to learn, share and take part in conversations to map the future of our region.
  • Continuing to explore and promote bold and innovative projects that connect people in a time of social isolation.
  • Finding the new stories and storytellers to help us navigate a world spinning further out of reach.
  • Focusing on localism and power by providing the tools necessary for communities to realise and shape their identities and futures.

Our programme will stretch across sharing skills in digital communication to help communities and artists reach further and more meaningfully to people, regional projects to support bold ideas concerned with community ownership and place-making and a responsive series of events and conversations open to all.

We are committed to exploring, developing and sharing how we work with other places and people and to continue the conversation online through our new podcast channel and other outlets.

Throughout January the Stove will be planning and organizing for the year ahead, so we encourage you to keep an eye on our website and social media for announcements, job opportunities and activity.

We’d like to once again thank our membership and community who have helped to shape our ideas for the year ahead by taking part in our projects, events, consultations and conversations throughout 2020.

And to celebrate ten years of the Stove we’ll be sharing the stories of those who have come through our doors, sharing their favourite memories as well as finding out what lies next for us over the next 10 years.

Whilst the road ahead looks rough, we’re hopeful our work will cement a new vision of community and creativity that seeks to support a fairer society for all. We can’t wait to see what comes of it.

Categories
Opportunities

OPPORTUNITY: Artist/Maker Commission – Symbol of Community Support

Midsteeple Quarter is a community-led project to breathe new life into the centre of Dumfries. The Stove Network is working in partnership with Midsteeple Quarter  to commission an artist/maker to create an innovative and changing artwork that demonstrates the support of local groups, businesses and individuals for the Midsteeple Quarter project. The artwork will be sited in the window of ‘The Smithy’ – one of the community owned shops on Dumfries High Street. As the project develops the artwork must adapt to incorporate the names of sponsors as they get involved.

In the first instance, the artwork will form part of a Crowdfunder campaign that will raise money to purchase more buildings for the community; but, the intention is for the artwork to have a life beyond this first campaign and become an enduring symbol of community support for Midsteeple Quarter.

The commission is open to artists and makers working in any medium. The developing nature of the work must be practical and achievable without additional expertise or expense. The total budget for the commission is £1000 inclusive of all fees, materials, expenses and VAT.

To apply please submit the following:

·      A sketch design of your idea

·      Images of up to three relevant examples of your recent work

This is a short turnaround project; applications must be received by 5pm Friday 15th January. The Commission will be awarded on Monday 18th January and the artwork will be in place in by 5th February.

If you would like to discuss the opportunity please contact Scott Mackay on scott@midsteeplequarter.org

Categories
Musings News Projects

Dark Time: An Update

We’ve reached the end of our annual Stove Dark Time, following three weeks of conversations, discussions and reflecting on the past year. A key focus of this year’s Dark Time was incorporating into our plans for next year the feedback from our Community & Membership Survey. This survey helped us to learn more about our membership and what we mean to our wider community so that we can continue to consider better ways of working together. We received incredibly thoughtful and rich responses, which have laid the foundations for our team discussions during Dark Time. These will feed into our plans for next year in order help us make more informed decisions for the future of The Stove, Dumfries and the wider region. Although so much is still in the planning stage, here is an update on key areas we are exploring and developing:

  • We are looking at how our core team can be re-structured to support a deeper culture of opportunities for our membership to be involved in the direction of The Stove and, in particular, how the Curatorial Team model will evolve to achieve this.
  • We are reflecting on our commissioning process, the types of opportunities we support, the language we use to communicate opportunities and our processes for selection. We also want to explore ways in which we can open up our interview process and make it more accessible.
  • We want to increase the opportunity for interaction between members by creating spaces for our members to mingle such as networking days, coffee mornings, workshops and in general, more occasions for members to come and bounce ideas off the Stove team and each other.
  • We want to be ambitious in our programming and are exploring how we can remain responsive and targeted in an ever-changing environment. In particular we are continuing to look at The Stove’s regional focus, which was a core theme of membership responses to the survey. This work was already on-going with the Embers work, but is an even sharper focus for The Stove now.
  • We are deep in conversation about The Stove’s role as a learning organisation and are committed to exploring how this might work. We know already that we want to help increase opportunities for skills sharing and up-skilling across the region as well as to explore how members can learn from each other and will be taking this forward into next year and beyond.

While we are still in the early stages for much of what is mentioned above, we have already achieved a great deal through discussion and planning over the previous few weeks and are excited to build on this and see how a shared vision can be implemented. Dark Time has also helped us to touch base, reacquaint ourselves with our core values and place our members at the heart of what we do. We will keep members updated on progress on this through news updates on the website, members emails, the next AGM and specific events as appropriate. Your input into The Community & Membership Consultation was pivotal to this success and thank you again for taking the time to provide your thoughts.

Categories
News Opportunities Projects

Beauty in the Broken: Call Out for Community Gardeners

As part of Atlas Pandemica, local artist Peter Smith is seeking local people to become ‘gardeners’ in the town.

‘Beauty in the Broken’ is a project which has been commissioned by The Stove as part of ‘Atlas Pandemica: Maps to a Kinder World’, which uses creative ways to chart the changes that have happened around us recently and to try and navigate the way forward into a more hopeful and shared future.

Peter Smith is a Dumfries based artist who works in fields of interactive art and wood-based sculpture and design.

Peter has created a series of Zen Gardens that will be placed around the town and is looking for a people to volunteer to tend the gardens over the three weeks they are in situ.

The project looks at the way in which Covid-19 may have broken us, but there is always an opportunity to repair in a new, beautiful way. We don’t try to hide these breaks and damage, but we repair our town and community – creating something unique and powerfully beautiful.

Peter sees this project as a social ‘Kintsugi’ – a method of repairing broken things in a way that embraces flaws and imperfections – worked out through the mindful practice of rock gardens.

The gardeners will regularly tend a set of sand and rock gardens throughout Dumfries every morning for 10-20 minutes. Rocks are placed on the field of sand and rakes are used to mark patterns and shapes into the sand. They will then be left for the day and a new design created the following day.

This opportunity is open to anyone – you do not need to have any gardening experience or experience in the creative industries. The gardens will go live over a 3-week period, from 18th January to 7th February 2021. The only requirement is availability every morning for 10-20 minutes during the 3-week period and to be able to carry some hand tools. The project looks to include a diverse mix of people from the local community.

If you would like to volunteer or for further information, please email ptr.a.smith@gmail.com.

The deadline to get in touch is Monday 14th December at 12 noon.

For more information on Atlas Pandemica, please click here.

Categories
Musings

Quarter-Life Crisis: Where was Martin Joseph O’Neill at 25?

By Hayley Watson

Feeling secure in your 20s is tricky at the best of times, and our generation are lucky to have a housing crisis, yet another recession and a global pandemic punctuating our continued ‘coming-of-age’ panic. Add a desire to pursue a creative career into the mix – if you’re reading this I don’t need to tell you how unstable this can feel because you likely already know – and you’ve got a recipe for a real headf..iasco. This interview is part of a series where I ask established creative professionals, people you and I might view as ‘real adults’, what they were doing at 25. I have my suspicions that they were probably as confused then as we are now and I’m determined to prove it.

This time around, I spoke with Stove curatorial member Martin O’Neill. Martin is a Dumfries-based artist, writer and producer and hosts The Stove’s monthly open mic night, Brave New Words. Looking back at his 25th year, Martin reflects on leaky flats, cats and the power of language.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re at now!

I’m a multi-disciplinary artist, writer and producer who’s trying to find a less pompous way of describing himself.

I live in Dumfries, born and bred.

As a ‘practice’, I’m interested in spaces, people, stories and inviting the imagination in. I’m sort of all over the place in that. But it’s usually about telling, and inviting the stories, that are often unheard, undervalued, or underappreciated. I also want people to have fun and share unique experiences together, even if it’s not in the way that I might have planned or predicted. All the better if that’s the case.

 

You were 25 between 2015 and 2016 There’s a lot going on in the world in 2020, but what was happening in 2015 and 2016? What’s the biggest news event you can remember from this time?

I can’t really recall what happened last week, so five years ago is sort of like a half-remembered dream, foggy snapshots of bad lager, cash in hand jobs, leaky roofs and 3AM jam sessions. That said, I cheated, and a quick Google search reminds me that the atrocious Charlie Hedbo attacks in Paris happened in January of that year and 2016 brought with it a new raft of misery in Brexit, Trump, the death of David Bowie and the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando. I remember quite vividly the news of the shootings in Orlando. As a gay man, this was particularly devastating. Shaking me to my core, it brought with it a stark reminder of the work yet still needing to be done in the fight for LGBT rights across the world, and a shiver that it could well have been me in that room.

Where were you living? Who with?

I was sharing a leaky 3 bed flat with two female musicians at the time. And a cat. And then several more cats (she had kittens).

 

Did you have a job? What was it?

I had started as a CT member at the Stove Network in, I believe, May/June of 2015. I was also working 7 days a week in the magnificent Coach & Horses.

 

Is there something you did when you were 25 that no one knows about?

Mostly everything I did at that time in my life was pretty public, either in a desperate attempt at notoriety or just the nature of what I was up to. Gigs, Brave New Words, installations, it was all there in the public domain, and still is, in all their amateur glory thanks to social media. Some awful graphic design was done in that time. And poetry. Bad, bad poetry.

 

What was your dream job at the time?

Whatever it was, it was usually about wanting to tell stories, so whether that meant being a poet, novelist, folk musician or dramatist, it revolved around that constant need to keep writing. I was also beginning to explore my practice as a visual artist and designer. At the time, I was way too conscious of the ‘27’ Club. Not so much for the untimely tragedy that befell them, but how much, and the quality of the work, their elite members had achieved in the time it took me to get a flat, find some steady paid work and land the occasional gig for extra cash.

 

If you had to choose one memory from your 25th year, what would it be?

The first Brave New Words. A really special night where some mad idea that folk might want to hear poetry together actually paid off. Who’da thunk?

 

If you could tell your 25-year-old self one thing, what would you say? And what do you think your 25-year-old self would say to you?

To my 25 year old self: You should be writing.

My 25 year old self to me now: You should be writing.

 

 

Are you where your 25-year-old self thought you’d be now?

 The last five years are such a blur of anxiety and chaotic thinking, that any thought of where I’d be in five years was clouded by some self-imposed pressure to complete something so short-term I can’t even recall what it might have been. Turning 30, that pressure seems to have eased off a little bit. You never do your best work when you’re worried about how you might be perceived. It’s better to just get on with it. And if it fails, move on, fail better.

We sometimes focus too much on success and forget how much our failures help us grow. What were your biggest failures from back then?

Too many to name. Mostly to do with poor communication. Mostly every problem is down to that. Just make sure you’re on the same page as others.

 

Finally, do you have any ‘words of wisdom’ for the 20-somethings reading this?

It’s not that far away from me so take this with a pinch of salt, I’m barely 30 as it is! But I suppose there’s an energy in your mid-twenties that’s really powerful, especially when you’re working with other, often older, more experienced people. You’re questioning, provoking, challenging and you’ve all the time in the world.  And that is so important. Be loose. Be creative. Make the mistakes and don’t overthink everything. But be mindful of others lives. Everyone has something to bring to the table. Everywhere. Also, language is a really powerful thing. Don’t let others use it to disempower you or make you feel small. But also, don’t play into those hands in thinking that is the ‘norm’ and adopting those same bad behaviours, it’s not, and it’ll bite you in the ass one day. Make sure to step outside of yourself every once in a while. There’s a whole world of lives herein, allow yourself to be passive. That’s when the best ideas come.

Categories
Events News Opportunities

Brave New Words: What Now?

A Brave New Words update from founder and director, Martin O’Neill

This year has been quite the rollercoaster, hasn’t it?

With next year looming round the corner, we’re asking ourselves, what will it bring? Global societal change for the better? Universal basic income? A fairer and more just world? Or, judging by this year, is it all going to go a bit belly up?

Well, we hope not. But let’s ask the questions.

What Now?

Over the next couple of months we’re holding back our usual Brave New Words Friday night mash-up live-streamed extravaganzas in favour of something a little bit different. To end our year, we’re inviting creative writing submissions around the theme of ‘What Now?’ with contributions making up our first ever printed newspaper publication. We’re looking for submissions from poetry, short stories, flash fiction to text-based art from writers young and older, professional or just dabbling. Think of it like an open mic, but as a newspaper!

You can submit up to three pieces to be considered.

That said, just like our open mic, whilst every effort will be made to ensure your piece ends up in the final print we will be limited on space and can’t guarantee that everything will make it through, so do think hard on what you’re sending in.

This is a completely open submission for anyone based in Dumfries & Galloway. You don’t have to have been at a Brave New Words before, and we’re always looking for new voices to showcase.As always, we encourage you to be brave and put yourself forward.

Submission Details

If you need any more information on the publication please get in touch through our social channels or email martin@thestove.org.
Submissions should be sent to: martin@thestove.org in PDF or Word format (please don’t put your submissions in the body of the email)
Deadline: 1st December.
Get writing, & be brave.

With Love,
Brave New Words.

Categories
Musings News Projects

Dark Time 2020

This November is our annual Dark Time. Over the course of the next two weeks we’ll be working hard, thinking, planning and implementing some of the biggest projects we’ve ever dreamt up. It’s also a time for us to question our role, our processes, communication and vision fully so that we might step into the New Year resourced, ready and receptive to whatever it might bring.

Dark Time is a chance for the team to take a step back and reflect, to listen and plan for the year ahead. It is a significant and valuable process where we take a critical and constructive eye over everything we do, through an intensive series of conversations and workshops. We’ll discuss everything from projects and production, events and hospitality, festivals and gigs to the way we use our café, connect and work with our membership as well as explore further our role within the region, and to question, adapt and embed a vision for the organisation to share for the year coming.

2020, perhaps more so than previous years, has brought a lot into focus for us, as it has for many. From the delivery of our events, our digital programme and our engagement with new audiences and collaborators, as well our commitment to creating and sustaining grassroots activity which narrows the gaps (or gulfs) between art, creativity, government and community.

It’s been a tough year all round. But it stands as testament to the commitment we feel to what we do. We’ve had to re-imagine our entire 2020 programme for an online audience as well as manage projects and festivals throughout the country, alongside shaping the conversations on artists and communities at a national level. Rather than limiting our focus for the year coming, we believe this time to be invaluable in helping to shape new projects out-with Dumfries, and to re-fresh our ideas in shaping a fairer future for our region, through the sharing of art, ideas and gifts from the voices all too often unheard in our communities.

2020 if nothing else, has proven what is possible at a distance, such as working from home and the ability to connect with a broader spectrum of society than we ever thought possible. But it has deprived us all of the experiences which colour our lives, connect us with one another and help us to understand, navigate and continue in a world spinning further out of sight.  But we’re far from pessimistic. Instead, we’ll think of this year as fallowed ground for something so much bolder, brighter and connected than we ever have been before.

Our recent membership survey has given us a lot to talk about. From our engagement with the community, the way we communicate, how diverse we are and how focused we ought to become in our vision. Our Dark Time this year is framed on the ideas, suggestions and feedback we have received from our members and wider community over this year, and we cannot thank you enough in helping to shape the Stove with us over this time. Whether it’s through a coffee in the café, filling out the membership survey, engaging in our programme of digital events or dropping us a line to check-in. Every conversation is meaningful, especially those of dissent.

The work here now is to recognise where we are and what we now need to do as an organisation so as to connect, inspire and grow new visions for our community in the wake of an international pandemic. A vision fully shared, that is inclusive, welcoming and principled. This may mean many things, and it may take strange and exciting new shapes, but as always and even more so, they are guided by the values shaped by, with and for the communities we belong to and serve.


Our Dark Time is framed around three conversations, and we’ll be sharing our progress with you through our social media and website as we go.

How do we define ourselves and what are the systems in place to let others participate and create with us.

How connected are we, and to whom?

We’re a growing organisation, how do we keep being connected to what’s happening around us?

Understanding our role as a learning organisation and how we engage with formal and informal education.

Working with our neighbors, partners and creative businesses throughout the region in further building a sustainable and connected network.

We want everyone to feel included, so do we do that? From working with the Deaf community to making the very building we operate in accessible to everyone, we’re making plans to engage with as many people as we can, sharing and learning as we go.

How we engage, from social media, blogs, and our website. We believe we’re an approachable organisation, so how do we build on this?

Engaging our membership. We want to create the spaces for our memberships to input into the running of the organisation as well as create the spaces needed to network with one another.

We want to centre community and creativity at the heart of the region’s future. Who else can we work with to do this?

In the wake of the pandemic, what can we learn from this and how do we create new work which resonates and belongs to our communities locally?

As a learning organisation, we’re building the skills and confidence of those we engage, and those we collaborate with. How do we expand on this? And can we offer more platforms, roles and opportunities for our community to shine?

Who owns what? What does ownership mean for our community, and how do we ensure everyone is involved? What does the shift from private to community-owned mean, and can what we learn, in order to change things at a higher level?

As always, if you have any thoughts that might help us in our direction, our (digital) door is always open. Drop us a message on our social media, ask to speak with someone at the café, or send an email along.

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