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How Creativity & Culture Can Support Communities

A Creative Placemaking Approach

The Stove Network, with support from South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), publish an important, new approach to Community Wealth Building and Community-Led Place Development.

The publication, entitled, ‘A Creative Placemaking Approach’ presents a methodology identifying how creativity and culture can work collaboratively with communities and support cross-sector working, addressing civic, economic, and development needs locally with communities.

This publication aims to support a vision of place and community where: creativity is used to develop a resilient and fair, future society, built on community wealth building principles, innovation, and long-term thinking.

The publication is the culmination of over 10 years of rural-based practice in the South of Scotland alongside wider research and consultation already carried out by The Stove Network, including Scotland’s first Creative Placemaking Forum, ‘kNOw One Place’ hosted in Dumfries in 2022.

For a long time, we have seen first-hand the gap between national policies in areas such as community empowerment, wellbeing economies, sustainable tourism, place-based planning, and what it takes to really make these work for local communities. New approaches are needed that enable local communities to come together to work through ideas, think differently, address challenges and come up with their own solutions whilst at the same time building the capacity to take this forward for themselves. Significantly this is a place-based approach that is enabled, and not led by, the multiple agencies, organisations and service providers that have a stake in a place.

Katharine Wheeler of The Stove Network and Director of WWDN (Creative Placemaking Network)

Placemaking traditionally refers to the concept of developing successful spaces for communities and encouraging connection and creativity for the common good.  Creative placemaking is a cultural and arts led approach to placemaking that uses creativity as a support structure for communities to take a leading role in the development of their places.

We believe this Creative Placemaking approach is hugely important in supporting change for communities in the South of Scotland and beyond. With unique villages and towns this approach can help unlock opportunities and potential to build stronger and sustainable communities. SOSE fully supports the approach outlined in this paper, it aligns with our values of bold and inclusive, while empowering our communities using creatives to translate ideas and thoughts for a meaningful community wealth building approach.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of South of Scotland Enterprise

Creative placemaking is particularly effective at developing community engagement, amplifying less heard voices, and supporting the development of community capacity and partnerships to effect real change.

“What we have seen through creative placemaking projects is a range of impacts for communities from major physical regeneration projects, such as Midsteeple Quarter in Dumfries, to life and career progression for individuals in communities – new skills, confidence, increased social networks etc. The key connecting factor has been the effectiveness of creative placemaking initiatives as open and inclusive ’spaces’ which give less-heard sections of community new agency within local decision-making processes and new empowerment for themselves to be part of making the change they wish to see.”

Matt Baker, CEO of The Stove Network

Read or download the published paper here
News Opportunities Project Updates

Join Our Team – Membership Manager for What We Do Now (WWDN)

Job Opportunity

#We are hiring!

WWDN is a Stove led project focusing on the development of a creative placemaking network for Dumfries & Galloway and is actively recruiting for the exciting NEW ROLE of Membership Manager.

Due to feedback and review, this position has been re-framed to align more closely with the projected needs of the WWND membership.

This position is open to both those with less experience who are looking to learn as part of the job or to those who bring a greater level of experience to the role.

Salary rates may be negotiated within the given salary bracket as part of the process and will be reviewed as part of The Stove’s support and supervision process within the team.

If you are interested, please do reach out.

About the Role

The Role: WWDN Membership Manager

Duration: 18 months fixed-term contract (with review after 3 months)

Hours: 21 hours per week (3-days)

Salary: £24 000 – £26 000 (pro rata) depending on experience

Location: Dumfries & Galloway

Reporting to: WWDN Director

Start Date: 6th May (or as close to this date as able)

Key Responsibilities:

The Membership Manager will be responsible for all aspects of WWDN membership working closely with the WWDN Director to grow and support the network as it develops. This will include talking to and developing relationships with potential members, processing of new and renewal memberships, maintaining databases, and communicating with members.

We are looking for someone who is an excellent communicator and wants to be part of a new team.

Regular internal contact and collaboration will take place with other members of the team, as membership will be central to the functions of the WWDN network.

Training and support will be provided as part of the role.

Download the full job pack for further details:

Main Tasks and Activities:

Membership Management:

  • Lead on membership recruitment, retention, and renewals, and liaison activity across all membership categories (practitioners, groups, organisations)
  • Develop and maintain effective membership processes, sign-up, review, and enquiry, working with colleagues across WWDN to champion high levels of service
  • Ensure membership admin systems are effectively maintained with support from the Web and Data Manager
  • Ensure membership data, trends and statistics are captured and reported in a way that informs WWDN strategic, operational, and financial planning

Communications / Relationship Building:

  • Work with the Communications and Marketing Director to devise and implement effective membership engagement campaigns
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of all membership marketing activity
  • Utilise a suite of communication assets including digital platforms: Newsletters, website, and social media channels – working closely with the Marketing Officer
  • Attend WWDN events and activities to promote membership recruitment and to build strong working relationships with existing members and key partners

Other duties:

  • Be first point of contact for WWDN service enquiries and direct to relevant members of the team
  • Support the WWDN team to develop, implement, and measure the impact of membership to meet strategic objectives
  • Feed into and support the development of systems and processes to support the continuous improvement of WWDN’s membership provision

This job description is not exhaustive, and the post holder may be asked to take on additional responsibilities not included herein.

Who We’re Looking For:

Person Specification:

  • Highly motivated and ambitious
  • Excellent communications and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent organisational and administrative skills
  • An interest in the mission and aspirations of Creative Placemaking and the desire to work collaboratively in a small team
  • The ability to tailor and adapt communications to specific audiences


  • A good level of IT literacy including the use of databases and websites (preferably Mailchimp / WordPress, but training will be provided)
  • Experience in working with customers in customer service / sales environment
  • Knowledge of UK-GDPR and other legislation concerning membership is desirable but not essential as appropriate training will be provided
  • An understanding of the third sector organisations is desirable but not essential

How to Apply:

We encourage you to apply in a way that you feel most comfortable.

You can send us your CV and a short covering letter, or video, to [email protected], explaining why you’re interested and what you could bring to the role.

Application Deadline is 9am in Monday 15th April

Interviews are likely to take place week commencing 22nd April 2024.

It’s important that our people reflect and represent the diversity of the communities and audiences we serve. We welcome and value difference, so when we say we’re for everyone, we want everyone to be welcome in our teams too. Wherever you’re from, and whatever your background, we want to hear from you.

We will accept applications from anyone and everyone who feels they have the skills required to fulfil this role. Sound like the right job for you? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

We will accept applications from anyone and everyone who feels they have the skills required to fulfil this role. Sound like the right job for you? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

News Opportunities

Commission: Waterfront Artist Stranraer

(This Opportunity is Now Closed)

The Stove Network is seeking a creative practitioner(s) to design and develop a programme of their own creative work which will be delivered with and for the community of Stranraer.

About the Commission:


A fee of £10,000 is offered for this commission. This fee is inclusive of all expenses, materials, and VAT (if applicable)


The work is to be completed within a six-month window – mutually agreed milestones at beginning of commission (e.g., research period, schedule of events planned by Creative Stranraer and how work of Waterfront artist fits with this). 

Timeline: October – March 2024 

The purpose of the commission is to creatively engage the local people in the town’s waterfront area.

The creative practitioner is invited to utilise their own creative practice (and/or collaborate with others), to inspire a new conversation in the town about the waterfront and how it could once again form a vital part of the town’s future.

The commission will form part of a wider process of re-imagining the Waterfront and the Waterfront Artist will join a small team comprising:

  • Arts and Engagement Officer (AEO) – who has been working within the Stranraer community gathering the creative sector and working with them on creative community engagement with local people as part of the revitalisation of Stranraer. The AEO will support the Waterfront Artist in building relationships with local people/groups/partners, communications/marketing, and event production.
  • Research, Recording and Reporting (R, R+R) commission holder – this is a special commission to support the work of the Waterfront Artist by helping to gathering information research leads that surface through the work and write up all the information/ideas and opinions that are generated through the creative work with the Waterfront.
  • Support from The Stove Network – The Stove Network has been working in Stranraer supporting community-led regeneration projects for two years. The Stove is a leading Creative Placemaking organisation in Scotland and will actively support the creative engagement work on Stranraer Waterfront with the full range of services offered by the full Stove team (from production and communications to partnership building and operational systems)
  • Support from DG Council and local community groups – the Local Authority is working in partnership with a diverse range of local community groups as a broad-based community leadership group to deliver capital projects(including Waterfront projects such as Stranraer Marina, Stranraer Watersports Centre and a marine research facility) that will underpin a future Stranraer. This group will support the creative engagement work on the Waterfront with information, contacts, partnership events and assets.

This commission builds upon the Dandelion community garden project, which occupied a section of greenspace located by the waterfront as a community garden. The ‘Unexpected Garden’ was utilised as a community events space, hosting workshops, gigs and other events. 

Who we’re looking for:

We are in search of an experienced creative practitioner(s) with a strong background in community-embedded and social arts practices. 

An ability to effectively engage and acknowledge the diverse voices of Stranraer’s populace is vital. 

We seek an audacious individual(s) who can facilitate and envision exciting possibilities, instilling fresh connections with one of the town’s most valuable assets.

The commissioned practitioner(s) will have access to the Creative Stranraer ‘Hub’ located in the town’s High Street as well as significant support in community engagement as well as strategic interaction with the town’s established community events and festivals.

It is hoped the creative practitioner(s) will interact with Creative Stranraer’s programme of activities, weaving thematic considerations and activities, offering a diversity of experiences to ensure as wide a range of the community’s voices are heard.

What you’ll be doing:

The Creative Practitioner(s) will be expected to engage the community through creative activities, installations, interactive elements, and inspire conversation towards re-thinking the future use of the waterfront as a connected, culturally significant feature in the future of Stranraer.

The creative practitioner(s) are expected to:

  • Embrace the Waterfront’s inherent value and its potential for rejuvenation, using your creative lens to inspire new ideas, spark conversations, and incite actions that will lead to its revival. (Background: up until 10 years ago the waterfront was predominantly an ‘industrial’ environment as the embarkation point for the Stena Line vehicle and passenger ferry to Belfast)
  • Reflect the value of the Waterfront and the potential therein through a creative lens to inspire new ideas, conversations, and actions towards its regeneration.

Required outputs:

  • A series of interventions situated at the Waterfront to encourage a new relationship to the site. 
  • Contribution to one large-scale public event situated at or near the Waterfront at the commission’s conclusion (NB additional budget is held to produce this event)

How to apply:

Deadline for applications: Thursday 24th August 2023 at 5pm

We would like to hear from creative practitioners/artists with an initial response to the project in the form of a short proposal.

We are looking for proposals from creative practitioners/artists working in any discipline.

We are interested in processes that are responsive and adaptive, demonstrate a commitment to collaborative working and give a clear idea of the creative skills and tools you bring to developing this. We are open to joint proposals or those from performance collectives but would want to hear how this might impact on the financial support for the individual freelancers involved.

We are open to video/recorded sound applications that address the brief and would encourage those who may have additional access requirements or support needs, both in application and anticipated through delivery of the project, to please let us know what we can do to make this opportunity as accessible as possible.


Please send by email to [email protected] with a maximum file size of 10MB, before Thursday 24th August 2023 at 5pm and include the following:

  • Subject line: Waterfront Artist Stranraer
  • A statement of no more than 600 words stating what interests you about the Waterfront Artist commission including a brief description of your practice and an initial idea of how you might approach the project.
  • Current CV (max 2 pages)
  • Up to 4 examples of past work that you feel best supports your application – this can be in any form (images, films, texts, testimonials, links to online video or other online resources). 
  • If you are willing, please also complete our Equalities Monitoring form as part of your application:

It’s important that our people reflect and represent the diversity of the communities and audiences we serve. We welcome and value difference, so when we say we’re for everyone, we want everyone to be welcome in our teams too. Wherever you’re from, and whatever your background, we want to hear from you. We will accept applications from anyone and everyone who feels they have the skills required to fulfil this role.

We will always send an email acknowledging receipt of any applications. If you do not receive an email, please contact us again. If you require specific support when making an application, please let us know. 

If you have any questions you’d like answered before submitting your application, please contact us by email at: [email protected]


Stranraer is at a pivotal point in its history. Ten years ago, the Stena Line ferry moved its operations from Stranraer to run their route to Northern Ireland from Cairnryan. A period of decline has followed for the town, but now Stranraer stands on the brink of a new chapter in its story with investment secured for a series of significant capital projects. These include projects for the Waterfront: a marina, a watersports centre, and a marine research facility. In the town centre the centrepiece project is the re-development of the former George Hotel into a culture and community centre including a bouldering centre and bunkhouse. These projects are all stitched into the community-led Place Plan for the town. The local community have worked in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council and South of Scotland Enterprise, and this commission is part of an ongoing commitment to keep the community right at the heart of the future vision for Stranraer.

News Opportunities

We’re Recruiting – NEW Board Members!


We’re Recruiting New Board Members

The Stove Network’s Board is currently looking to appoint up to three new board members to replace trustees who have stepped down over the last year.

As both a network and a collective The Stove’s board has evolved to reflect the needs and aspirations of both our team and our 600+ membership.

In looking for new members to join our board, we expect that different candidates will bring a range of skills and experience to The Stove.

We are interested in hearing from people with skills or experience in creative or innovative ways of working who have experience in community development, people or organisational development, funding, or transnational working, particularly within the following fields:

  • Finance & Legal
  • HR & talent management
  • Heritage
  • Hospitality & Events

An understanding of meaningful collaboration, inclusive practice and partnership working also underpin our values. We are particularly keen to hear from people interested in inclusive ways of working in the community.

Planning Session at The Stove’s Away Day with The Board

About The Stove Network

We’re an award-winning arts and community focused collective based on the High Street in Dumfries. We use creativity in all its forms to bring together people and ideas, inspire and support new community-led projects, grow people, opportunities and celebrate our local people and places across the region.

We believe community and creativity are a gateway to help understand our world and empower us to make the changes necessary to support and grow the ideas and experiences we need to deliver a fairer future for all.

One look at the current programme and you will see truly innovative projects that tell you all you need to know about our culture, our mission, what we deliver and how we deliver it.

For more information or to apply:

The Stove Board meets four times a year plus an Annual General Meeting and a handful of subgroup meetings. It’s important our that Board members participate in the life of the organisation between board meetings, advising the team and acting in an ambassadorial role for The Stove Network.

If being part of a new way of working, engaging and making a difference is your thing, please get in touch for an exploratory chat by e-mailing [email protected] before Wednesday 1st March 2023

(Practitioners – please note that being a board member will not exclude you for applying for or undertaking paid work with The Stove)


We’re Hiring – Marketing Assistant

(This Opportunity is Now Closed)

Want to join our team as the Stove’s Marketing Assistant?

We’re on the lookout for a new teammate to help us support all the great community focused events, activities, and opportunities The Stove has to offer.

Job title: Marketing Assistant

Hours: 28hrs per week, can be worked flexibly over 6 days Monday – Saturday (Typical core hours 10-4, Monday – Friday – some weekend and/or late-night work may be required, advanced notice will be given)

Salary: £20,000 pro rata, (equates to £16,000)

Holiday entitlement: 27 days (Includes public holidays)

Pension: Auto-enrolment via NEST pension scheme with 3% employer contribution

Led by the Head of Communications & Engagement (HCE) the Marketing Assistant will form a core part of a small, but effective, communications team and will support the overall outreach strategy of The Stove Network and our portfolio of regional projects, by telling our story, supporting our activities, and celebrating our community.

Key Responsibilities:


  • Assist in creating and updating digital content on multiple platforms, including website, social media accounts, blogs, and emails
  • Assist with the coordination of on and offline marketing and promotional materials
  • Collaborate with the communications, creative and production teams to develop project specific marketing strategies
  • Help identify market trends and key opportunities for innovation

This is an exciting opportunity for the right person to join a small but effective and dedicated communications team based in the heart of Dumfries. We are looking for a creative and content savvy person who can bring ideas to life.

The ideal candidate should have a creative flair, understand the principles of digital marketing, be IT savvy, have a friendly and approachable manner with great writing skills and the desire to learn and develop.

Experience in an office or hospitality environment would be a bonus, but if you don’t have this, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re not the right person!

Here at The Stove, we believe creativity can make a positive difference to the lives of our local and regional communities. Through dedicated projects, commission opportunities and collaborative working alongside our local authority, community organisations, local businesses, and charities, we aim to create a place where culture, community, and enterprise work together to support a new vision of the town and the wider region.

Check out the full job pack, and if you have any questions let us know by emailing [email protected] or calling 01387 252 435

How to Apply:

We encourage you to apply in a way that you feel most comfortable or you can fire over your CV and a short covering letter, or video, to [email protected]explaining why you’re interested and what you could bring to the role.

Just make sure that your application is in by 5pm, Friday 9th December 2022

It’s important that our people reflect and represent the diversity of the communities and audiences we serve. We welcome and value difference, so when we say we’re for everyone, we want everyone to be welcome in our teams too. Wherever you’re from, and whatever your background, we want to hear from you.

We will accept applications from anyone and everyone who feels they have the skills required to fulfil this role.

Sound like the right job for you? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Musings News Project Updates

Creative Placemaking

The Stove Network launch kNOw One Place, Creative Placemaking Forum – an ambitious, future-thinking discussion on creative placemaking.  The Forum will take place from 22-23 September 2022 at Loreburn Hall in Dumfries and will draw over 100 people from public, private, independent and charitable sectors across the two days.  Through a mixture of open space discussion and expert reflection, exhibition and original artworks, the forum is set to be a participatory space to think about and develop grass-roots and community-led approaches to placemaking for the future – both nationally and internationally.

We define Creative Placemaking as: a community led approach that uses creative activity to support collective decision-making and positive change for people and the places they live

More about Creative Placemaking

The idea for the forum stems from the work that The Stove Network has led on over the past 10 years.  The Stove Network has been working with a Creative Placemaking approach at its core since its inception to stimulate conversations, change, art, and renewed ownership across communities in Dumfries.  This was then formalised, scaled and piloted as a network approach to working from within communities in the recent project, What We Do Now. What We Do Now helped inform and was part of Scotland’s Culture Collective Programme, a major Scottish initiative for culture and creativity to play a role in the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.

We have also published our approach to Creative Placemaking in our most recent publication, Embers. Now it’s time to dig into the core principles of this work with others, to contribute to our evolving understanding of this way of working in Scotland.

Hear from Katharine Wheeler, Partnerships and Project Development at The Stove Network, as she talks about Creative Placemaking and ‘What We Do Now’:

Join the conversation

Throughout the month of September and in the lead-up to the kNOw One Place forum, The Stove Network will host a series of online activities and events that will take a closer look at creative placemaking. 

These events will bring together the public, private, independent, and charitable sectors through open space discussion, expert reflection, an exhibition, and original artworks.

Across two weeks five digital events will explore the key creative placemaking themes of:

All events take place online from 6pm- 7pm and are open to anyone interested in disusing, contributing to or finding out more about the concept of Creative Placemaking.

What We Do Now (WWDN) is a pilot for a Creative Placemaking Network for Dumfries and Galloway which sees The Stove Network support a community anchor group (place hub) in each of five towns in Dumfries & Galloway to host creative practitioners for an extended period to work with sections of the community in that place to co-create new future visions and practical projects.

WWDN supports artists to explore bold new ideas with communities to give voices to those under-represented in local decision making.

For more information on The Stove Networks approach to creative placemaking and to find out more about the pilot project visit:

Musings News

A New Approach to Culture in Scotland?

By Matt Baker

The Committee for Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture is currently examining future directions for funding culture in Scotland. The Stove gave evidence to the committee on 16th September and this blog builds on the themes developed in our evidence and the evolving conversation about the role of culture and creativity in society as a whole – a conversation given extra focus and urgency in the context of Covid and Climate Change.

Culture & Wellbeing The Stove Network Evidence Session on Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee 16 September 2021

In periods of lockdown during the pandemic, creative practitioners filled many of the gaps created by the withdrawal of local authority services for people with additional support needs. In my own area, I have many, many stories of the extraordinary efforts of creative people during this time and of the positive impacts on clients and patients, some of whom experienced creative practice for the first time and have made progress that has astonished their carers. Similar stories are perhaps more widely known in education, with creative and cultural organisations and individuals providing physical and digital resources to support home-schooling.

Could the pandemic result in the widening of attitudes to education among parents/students and of outcomes for people with additional support needs and chronic health conditions?

These examples are part of a wider phenomenon through which myriad examples of arts practice embedded in communities came to the fore in Scotland, developed through local support networks during the pandemic. These can be added to the many community-led initiatives and social enterprises that have been started by a cultural project or the involvement of artists in local activism. The key connecting aspect of all these examples is the direct participation of people – people using creativity as a tool to change their own circumstances and/or the places around them, people being involved in shaping and making their own culture, rather than passively consuming culture that has been made for them.

Investing in Cultures The Stove Network Evidence Session on Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee 16 September 2021

Perhaps it is time to ask a fundamental question about the way we do culture in Scotland? Could we consciously support a culture of participation and popular ownership of culture as a key part of our national toolkit towards a just transition from both Covid and Climate Change?

It might be useful to look back at how we arrived at the current model we have inherited for the public support for culture. There are very interesting parallels with the pandemic in this regard. 80 years ago, another national crisis caused us to look anew at culture: during World War II people participating in and making their own culture was a vital factor in maintaining morale. This was recognised in the formation of the Council for Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) in 1940 which had two distinct strands of activity: one supported people to participate directly in the making of their own culture, whilst the other supported professional practitioners to create cultural work and events for the public. The participatory strand was very successful with projects such as the ‘Travelling Musicians’ programme which in 6 months started 244 amateur choirs and 37 new orchestral groups.

Despite this success, in 1946 CEMA was restructured as the Arts Council of Great Britain and support for participation in culture was discontinued with the first Chairman of the Arts Council declaring: ‘It is about the best not the most. The principle is we support professional artists. That’s our obligation. And our second obligation is to enable others to appreciate, understand and benefit from that’

Substantially, this is the way things have continued to the present day.* We, as a society, have come to understand culture as something that is professionally produced for others to enjoy.

It is a leap I know, but imagine how different life could have been in our communities and for our arts sector had we continued to support participation in the making of culture? Our way of thinking about learning, health, inclusion and empowerment in our communities might be very different. I’d like to propose that we use this moment of resetting with Covid to make a bold step as a country and to use culture as enabler and connector across multiple sectors in our society. Could we imagine something like a national Cultural Investment Programme supporting the mass participation in culture as a vital building block for a wellbeing society as part of an essential re-set after Covid?

It’s important to stress from the outset that this new approach to culture would be additional to the traditional support for the professional production of culture not instead of. In practice there would be expansive synergy between the two approaches to supporting culture in Scotland, with cross-fertilization in funding across organisations, projects and practices and opportunities for individuals to develop portfolio careers across different forms of practice.

Such a programme would be an integral part of our Covid/Climate transition and delivered through a partnership approach with Health, Education, Economic Regeneration and Community Development. It could be thought of as similar to the way in which Sport is supported – where one funding strand supports participation in sport (as part of wellbeing) and another funds elite sport…or like the distinct support paths for applied research and pure research in academia.

Developing this new strand of cultural support would start by bringing together existing experience and excellence in arts in education, health and community development (e.g. Arts in Education Recovery Group, Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland, Creative Scotland Place Dept, Culture Collective, Creative Communities) to work with the various other sectors and across budget strands such as the Place Based Investment Programme.

Future Vision for Culture The Stove Network Evidence Session on Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee 16 September 2021

Core elements of Scotland’s Cultural Investment Programme (SCIP) could include:

(NB ‘artists’ is used as a collective term to include: musicians, performers, dancers, visual artists, writers, designers, filmmakers, producers)

  • Education – artists in residence in schools, the Room 13 model, the Sistema model
  • Health and Wellbeing – social prescribing, artists in healthcare settings (eg ArtLink), wellbeing groups
  • Community Development – artists embedded in communities – supporting the growth of new initiatives and groups e.g. bringing unheard voices into community planning for longer term investment
  • Community-based Organisations – to become hubs supporting a population of local freelance artists (and associated creative disciplines) to work in the SCIP. Organisations also promote partnership working and develop new initiatives/projects. Many of these organisations will be community-based arts organisations, working across both strands of support for culture
  • National Network – to link and support community-based organisations and freelancers to share capacity, experience, skills and resources.
  • Skills and Training Programme – for artists and associated creative disciplines to work within SCIP settings and deliver ongoing professional development.
  • Action Research – as part of the roll-out of SCIP, with a remit to monitor progress, share best practice and identify effective synergies with existing cultural infrastructure.
  • Joined up working/funding across diverse sectors at national Government/Agency and Regional levels

We already have brilliant experience nationally of this kind of work across the board in education, health and communities, the principle of this vision would be to pool experience and resources across different fields and agendas to make a commitment, as a country, to a long-term, innovative and joined-up approach to building a wellbeing economy – using culture.

Artists and the diversity/sustainability of the cultural and creative workforce is central to the idea of such an investment programme. Artists would be employed on Fair Work principles to work as artists within the settings described, this is not ‘artists as social workers’ rather a commitment to genuine co-production with communities and regular local contracts will give new opportunities for artists to develop their own individual practices and grow new collaborations with other artists through the national network.

Local hubs, community participation, arts in education settings and fair work principles will also create the conditions for people from diverse backgrounds to enter the cultural and creative workforce and support all creative people with multiple opportunities to develop careers and creative practices.

Important initiatives such as Culture Collective and Creative Communities have already grown from the National Culture Strategy. The Culture Strategy makes an incredible opportunity for Scotland to use these as foundations around which we can attract people and practices and build a world-leading initiative that puts culture and the cultural workforce right at the heart of the effort to build a country based on wellbeing and climate justice.

*the Community Arts movement of the 1970s and 80s is one amongst few notable exceptions along with individual projects within the fields of health, education and community-based practice in recent years.

News Opportunities

Join the Dandelion Team

Opportunity for an Emerging Creative Producer to work in Stranraer

10 month full-time creative opportunity working on a national project with The Stove Network and Stranraer Development Trust

Extended Deadline – Midday 9th December 2021

This is an incredible opportunity for someone of any age but at an early stage of their creative career to work as part of a UK-wide project.

Dandelion is Scotland’s contribution to ‘Unboxed – Creativity in the UK’ and is an ambitious creative programme demonstrating the power of collective action in a unique ‘grow your own’ initiative for modern times.

This is a full-time (35 hours per week) position on a fixed term contract for 10 months from 1st January 22 to 31st October 22. The salary is £24,000 PA equating to £20,000 for the 10 month term of the contract.

Deadline for applications – Midday on Thursday 9th December

This role is designed for someone who is new to producing. The successful candidate will be mentored and supported by The Stove Network, Stranraer Development Trust and the Dandelion Network Coordinator.

Relevant on-the-job training will be provided and the successful candidate will be provided with the equipment they need (e.g. a laptop) to carry out their role, and we may be able to help with relocation costs.

If you are thinking about applying for the Emerging Creative Producer job in Stranraer and want to find out more, you can contact Matt Baker at The Stove Network by emailing: [email protected] or join Fiona Dalgetty, Futures Director and Jen White, Project Manager – Unexpected Gardens on Zoom between 1-2pm or 8-9pm on Wednesday 1st December.

If you would like to join one of these Zoom sessions, please email: [email protected]

Further Information about Dandelion

Dandelion is working with partner organisations around Scotland to create a series of ‘Unexpected Gardens’ one of these will be in Stranraer, where Dandelion will work in partnership with The Stove Network and Stranraer Development Trust.

Each Unexpected Garden will be planted in March 2022 and become a space for creative community events culminating in a unique Harvest Festival in September. Each Emerging Creative Producer will take a lead on designing and delivering the programme of activity for their Unexpected Garden. For the Stranraer project the Creative Producer will also be part of the team that designs and builds the Unexpected Garden.

The Stove and Dandelion are committed to creating a positive and inclusive environment where everyone feels respected and valued. We believe our work will be stronger with greater diversity and, as such, we welcome applications from those who bring a difference to our team, we understand that each of us bring our experiences, our backgrounds and our own unique lens to what we do.    

We encourage applications from all backgrounds and particularly welcome applications from those who are currently under-represented within the sector, including those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled candidates, LGBTQI++ and/or those from a low socio-economic background or requiring flexible working arrangements.

If you have specific accessibility needs in taking part in the application and/or delivery stages of the project please be assured that we will be supportive in discussing reasonable adjustments with you at any stage of the recruitment and selection process.

Musings News

Homemade Hope – A Blog

a screen displaying the words, what gives you hope
What gives you hope? From the Gaither Inn – image credit Erin Aitchison

Artistic Director, Martin O’Neill has spent almost a decade creating, developing, collaborating on and championing some of the brightest creative ideas to come out of our town through his work with The Stove. All of which have been co-created with for and by our local people. However, at a time where so much uncertainty looms over all of us, not just in the creative sector, we challenged Martin to reflect on the last year, and asked him; “What gives you hope?

Homemade Hope

By Martin O’Neill – Artistic Director

The last few years… they haven’t exactly been a fairground, have they?

Each New Year, the promise of better unfurls like a golden ticket. Although initially adorned with fine intents, clear plans, and a bright outlook… it gradually reveals itself to be more akin to Glasgow’s Willy Wonka experience – complete with gloomy Oompa Loompas, bargain bucket backdrops, and a quarter cup of lemonade. Happy New Year folks!

So it’s forgivable, when asked ‘what gives you hope?’, to re-coil and grimace given the last few years.

Hope is not often a word we hear in the news. Its closest relative ‘resilience’ is banded around in party political slogans; spun and doctored till they’ve lost much of whatever profundity they were meant to stand for. ‘Resilience’ now appears before us akin to a Frankenstein’s monster. Its made up of all the different parts, and looks about right – but there’s no soul about it. The word has been so chewed up by billionaires and politicians it’s been rendered tasteless. But this isn’t a blog about billionaires. I’ll save that one for another day.

With that said in many ways, there’s hope for… hope.

But hope encompasses more than its definition suggests; ‘a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.’

Across various scientific disciplines worldwide, entire factions have dedicated to study hope. From neurology to social science and economics, the study of this hard-to-put-into-words feeling is uncovering stuff that may well determine the future of our world and us in it. Hope’s significance extends from longevity and survival to happiness and humanitarianism. It’s becoming a key factor in determining an individual’s happiness and resilience, making waves in our understanding of mental illness. Moreover, its impact on fostering progressive and healthy communities is increasingly recognised.

So I’d like to take you on a little voyage through hope as I see it – the places where it thrives and the people that nourish from it. From Stove-led projects to the quiet things we’re up to no one really hears about, and to others in D&G, working their way day-by-day to what some might call utopia ‘Dumfrutopia’?!

Homemade Mutant Hope Machines

What a title!

In February, during the Stove’s annual general meeting, we welcomed researcher, artist, and all round ruddy guid guy ‘Dr. Duckie‘ (also known as Dr. Ben Walters) to discuss his PhD research. Titled ‘Homemade Mutant Hope Machines’, Ben’s research was completed with the queer performance collective ‘Duckie‘ from Vauxhall, London.

Duckie is a pioneering LGBTQ club collective born in Vauxhall, London 25 years ago. Known for its eclectic mix of music, artful stage performances, and inclusive atmosphere, Duckie has evolved from late-night revelry to a respected arts organisation. Their portfolio includes award-winning shows like ‘C’est Duckie!’, immersive experiences like Lullaby and The Class Club, and a vibrant LGBTQ history program. Beyond their core community, Duckie extends its reach with socially engaged projects targeting diverse audiences, supported by Arts Council and National Lottery funding. With a dedicated team and a host of collaborators, Duckie hosts over 130 events and workshops annually, always aiming to blend fun with creativity.

‘From 2014-2018, Ben did a PhD about Duckie’s work and coined the concept Homemade Mutant Hope Machines – a way of describing how people without much clout can start to build better worlds on their own terms.’

“Homegrown Mutant Hope Machines” broadly describes emergent, autonomous, and adaptive forms and processes that consistently cultivate hope for a better world, especially for marginalised populations. This title encompasses community groups, art projects, and organisations dedicated to enabling and empowering people. This is successfully done trough a values-driven approach centred on possibility, hope, and utopia.

In my own little world, hope took hold as the characteristic of not only our past, present and future projects here at the Stove, both now and then and yet to come, but that of nearly countless other groups and people across D&G.

A Manifesto of Homegrown Hope

In January, we launched the inaugural Gaither Inn event. It marked the beginning of a ongoing, dynamic series of gatherings designed to kick-start new ideas and possibilities for our town. The Gaither Inn also featured a mair than plentiful spread of haggis, neeps and tatties in honour of the Bard. With each course of food, a question accompanied, dividing the evening into three chapters. These were:

  • What gives you hope?
  • What are the ingredients of a space to nurture hope?
  • How do we achieve this together?

Invited to speak with their neighbours, everyone discussed these questions and worked towards creating a ‘Manifesto of Homegrown Hope’. Notes upon notes of handwriting from our ‘punters in residence’, (that would rival that of a chain-smoking Doctor in the 1970’s), combined with a sprinkling of poetic license, resulted in the following manifesto…

The Manifesto of Homegrown Hope
Manifesto of Homegrown Hope - developed by the attendees of The Stive Network's Gaither Inn.

Of all the captivating headlines here, one stood out to me the most, ‘Vision & Visibility’.

History reminds us that significant change seldom occurs in obscurity. It is not typically driven by the majority or the zeitgeist of the masses, but rather by the vision of a determined few. So the notion of ‘embracing darkness’ to light the way forward is precisely where creativity, coupled with community, ought to exist. This is where the adaptive and autonomous nature of hope machines thrives: not in prescribing bold and concrete answers for the future, but in posing questions and consistently caring in their efforts toward an as-yet unwritten future.

Questions open the door to the future and are more powerful than answers in that they demand engagement. Engagement in the right questions is what creates accountability. How we frame the questions is decisive. They need to be ambiguous, personal, and stressful.

Peter Block

With that in mind, let me introduce you to a selection of Homemade Mutant Hope Machines. Some we’ve directly supported, others we’ve stood beside as allies, and a few have even sparked our own inspiration.

While there are countless inspiring projects happening across D&G, I’ll focus on those we’ve recently engaged with. Here is a glimpse into the ongoing work and the individuals driving us onward.

The Art Cabin: LIFT

Proposed by artists Alice Francis and Rosie Giblin, the Art Cabin is on the verge of becoming a reality. The project began back in 2021 during the initial phase of the What We Do Now project. Nestled in Dunlop Road, it will serve as a communal space for collective creativity. Above all, the word that epitomises the Art Cabin is “persistence.”

Persistence in the belief that it is the right thing to do. In chasing that one guy who does that one thing. Persistence in getting that one thing done so the other seven hundred things move to get the cabin open.

The Stove’s Operations Director, Graham Rooney, led the charge, and made it happen. The Art Cabin will be launching later in the year thanks to Creative Scotland funding. Achieved in part by the remarkable Morgan Love, a Creative Spaces alumni and LIFT team member.



Liz, a retired Macmillan nurse turned community pioneer, has spearheaded Doughlicious for several years. She has fostered a sense of camaraderie through the shared joy of making delicious sourdough together.

Her dedication extends to Summerhill. Liz volunteers her time to offer free, locally sourced, organic, homemade sourdough bread to those in need. She has successfully united the community in promoting homegrown, locally made, healthy alternatives to store-bought bread.

She is a truly remarkable individual who inspires us all every day.

Maya Rose Edwards: ‘Harbour’ Stranraer

Rarely does an artist, especially one so young, embody the principles of socially engaged and community arts as effectively as Maya Rose Edwards.

Throughout their tenure as the Creative Stranraer Waterfront Project artist, Maya’s project ‘Harbour’ has forged connections with the townsfolk in a manner that even the most outgoing individuals would find challenging.

Referring to their process as “making friends” rather than retreating into solitary research and introspection, as many artists do, speaks volumes about Maya’s ethos, which firmly believes in the transformative power of community engagement.

In Stranraer, Maya’s mission has been to foster dialogue, connection, and a shared vision for the town’s waterfront, rooted in its heritage and future aspirations. The culmination of this endeavour was a community festival, ‘Raise The Sails’, that celebrated possibility and imagination, marked by the symbolic act of “raising the sails” for a rejuvenated Stranraer.

Summerhill Community Centre: Anne Marie


If you’ve not heard of Anne Marie then where have you been?! I’ve only had the pleasure of working with Anne Marie recently through our Creative Caerlaverock project. The project worked with the young team at Summerhill to engagee, promote creativity and excitement about the history and future of Caerlaverock Castle as a site of historical significance and burgeoning creative potential. If you haven’t yet seen the ‘Siege of Summerhill’ and the accompanying documentary capturing the work led by Stovie Sal Cuddihy then check it out, if nothing else, it’s a good laugh.

In even a short visit, it’s evident Anne Marie has managed to nurture a caring, supportive and connected space that I feel every community deserves. Or rather, if every community or neighbourhood had an Anne Marie, the future would be good in good hands.

Off The Margin

One of our most recent projects was a deep-dive into the world of grassroots press and radical print. Over the weekend we were joined by journalists, print-makers and artists both local and national – engaging the town in conversations and workshops from investigative journalism with Karin Goodwin of The Ferret to podcasting, print-making and comic books.

What felt remarkably clear was the appetite and desire for Dumfries to re-connect with its vibrant printing heritage and sewed the seeds for exciting future projects in community news and print-based practices.

The hope here lies in the re-establishing of Dumfries as a place where opinion, expression, creativity and colour could once again return to the written and printed word – and away from the divisive and exclusionary worlds of social media. Watch this space.

Creative Spaces

Nothing embodies the essence of a “Homegrown Mutant Hope Machine” quite like Creative Spaces, especially its recent Showcase. Featuring a diverse array of local young creatives and entrepreneurs from across D&G, it was an evening that showcased the remarkable talent and potential of the region’s future leaders.

This initiative, nurtured by The Stove, has flourished over the past decade, evolving from Young Stove to Blueprint100. The work being done, led by the youth of D&G, is truly remarkable – from community projects aiding those in need to vibrant queer activism and artistry.

These young innovators ensure inclusivity in shaping the region’s future, a valuable lesson for us all. Despite the challenges and prevailing narratives of decline often associated with our aging population, these young creatives embrace a forward-thinking mindset. They are inspired by the possibilities of what lies ahead and are actively forging paths forward, even in the face of darkness.

Wild Goose Festival – the partnership

The Wild Goose Festival is not just about the event itself, but the incredible individuals and organisations behind it. Comprising 24 partners spanning the arts, nature, community, tourism, and wildlife sectors, it serves as a beacon of hope.

In Scotland, there’s often a tendency for organisations to operate in silos, focused solely on their own needs due to financial pressures, policy shifts, and societal challenges stemming from years of government disinvestment. However, the partners of the Wild Goose Festival have committed to collaboration, working together to create a sustainable and vibrant event.

By celebrating our natural ecology and redefining the traditional festival model with a forward-thinking and hopeful perspective, these partners are paving the way for a truly unique festival experience. One where creativity, nature, and community converge to address the pressing issues of our time and inspire positive change.

Oor Hoose

Nothing embodies the spirit of “just do it” quite like Oor Hoose. Founded by Dumfries’ own Madame Jo and Devine Tension, Oor Hoose has provided vital support to young LGBTQ+ creatives and performers, nurturing their talents and empowering them to showcase their skills in the heart of the town centre.

As a gay Doonhamer growing up in the town, if you had told me such a space was going to exist, I would have called you a fantasist. But no, it’s very much a real thing – and it’s truly amazing to see. Now established as a community interest company, Oor Hoose has secured funding from the Hollywood Trust to offer workshops and experiences for young queer artists in D&G. With a Showcase scheduled for May at the Stove Cafe, I’m eager to witness the incredible talents of this remarkable crew.

Musings News

Lessons in Collaboration, Empowerment & Capacity

The Stove recently played host to a visiting artist, Peery Sloan, a multi-disciplinary artist who actively seeks out opportunities to collaborate with other creatives. Reflecting on the practical application of The Stove’s values, finding inspiration in the commitment to continuous learning, growth, and the pursuit of positive change, Peery documented her visit and experience of working with The Stove team. You can read all about it here:

A Month at The Stove:
Lessons in Collaboration, Empowerment, and Capacity

By Peery Sloan

Upon my arrival at The Stove, my curiosity spanned across various facets of the organisation, ranging from structural organisation and team management to the creative processes at the workplace and community impact. I was eager to delve into every aspect. What immediately caught my attention was the remarkable level of attention and dedication exhibited by the team towards their work.

Contrary to my initial assumption that the focus would primarily be on managerial and organisational aspects, I soon realised that the heart of The Stove lay in the individuals comprising the team. The organisation’s tireless functioning, output, and successes relied on the specific roles, unique talents, and unwavering dedication of each team member. This revelation pleasantly surprised me, highlighting the depth of commitment embedded within the team.

This notion particularly resonated with my initial fascination with The Stove, specifically the prospect of reproducibility. The question arose:

In my own small community in dire need of empowerment, could the ethos and methodology of The Stove be reproduced?

The potential for the creative sector to serve as a catalyst for positive change intrigued me, and Kat Wheeler played a pivotal role in elucidating this possibility through her profound belief in creative placemaking. As evident through her massive initiative, What We Do Now, she is devoted to connecting a variety of partners, artists, and organisations to weave themselves into a supportive network.

Creative placemaking, as I came to understand through Kat’s teachings, involves harnessing the power of the creative sector to shape and rejuvenate communities. It goes beyond traditional urban planning, emphasising the role of arts and culture in fostering a sense of place, community identity, and empowerment. The Stove, with its commitment, epitomises creative placemaking in action, demonstrating how artistic endeavours and community engagement can cultivate hope and instigate positive transformations.

Creative placemaking, epitomised by The Stove’s initiatives, emerges as a beacon of hope for communities aspiring to empower themselves. The organisation’s commitment to generating hope, adapting to change, maintaining a routine output, and offering a replicable model showcases its dedication to this transformative approach.

My journey with The Stove not only prompted a personal exploration into applying its principles to my own community but also highlighted the broader significance of creative placemaking as a potent tool for positive social change.

The impact of these efforts is meticulously tracked, documented, and disseminated by the dynamic communications team, led by the adept Kevin Stewart. Kevin, with his sharp wit and lightning-fast mental processing speed, buttresses the entire team in managing the website, shaping the brand, orchestrating social media activities, and ensuring visibility across all channels. His background in corporate marketing enriches the Stove’s approach by providing a big-picture perspective, seamlessly integrating strategic vision with the practical aspects required to convey a clear and accessible message. He has developed an incredible team consisting of resident tech guru Robbie Henderson, Web & Data Manager, Erin Aitchison, social media wiz and Marketing Officer, and Wren Winters, the personable Venue and Digital Coordinator; their lively office reflects the engaging and communicative spirit of the team.

From artist and Chief Executive Officer, Matt Baker, I learned of the journey from art collective to organisation. Initiated by a small artist collective, the expedition commenced when they recognised a prevailing disempowered attitude within the community, characterised by a lack of belief in their ability to make a meaningful impact or claim ownership. In response, the collective devised a straightforward yet impactful solution: reclaiming public spaces. This manifested through events such as bonfires in the square and boat races in the River Nith, serving as visible demonstrations that change and action were not only possible but also attainable. Over the course of a decade, the collective underwent a transformative evolution, solidifying its position as the indispensable community hub, now known as The Stove Cafe, while simultaneously expanding its influence through diverse programming, partnerships, and projects.

Matt’s profound wisdom, derived from his extensive experience as both an artist and the CEO of The Stove, stands as an indispensable pillar supporting the ongoing evolution of the organisation. His influence extends beyond geographical confines, seamlessly traversing regional boundaries and establishing meaningful connections within the realms of both the arts and civic engagement in Scotland. In meetings, Matt assumes a contemplative and non-dogmatic presence, choosing to speak only when the discourse requires the illumination of a critical question that has yet to be addressed. His judicious approach not only reflects a discerning insight but also underscores the strategic importance of his contributions in shaping the organisation’s trajectory.

Examining the organisational systems in place at The Stove Network, it became evident that flexibility was integral to their operations. Graham Rooney, Operations Director, designs and implements systems to make the workflow smoother and more efficient. He recently unveiled a new two-calendar system with a rotating two-week cycle; the approach remained dynamic. Despite the visual complexity of the Google Calendar resembling a pile of oriental carpets, the team actively utilised and reviewed it on a weekly basis, incorporating changes as needed. Graham gathers the feedback, shifts, and changes the structure as necessary. This adaptability was crucial in navigating the evolving landscape of The Stove Network.

One pivotal insight into the organisation’s ethos emerged during a meeting with the What We Do Now team, where “reflection” was identified as a core value. Subsequently, I witnessed this commitment in action when concerns arose about some individuals being overworked. The ensuing discussion transcended the immediate issue, delving into the team’s overall capacity and the organisation’s well-being. The prevailing high-achieving culture, driven by passion, had set demanding standards, resulting in a substantial output that now necessitated a careful evaluation. The discourse was marked by genuine interpersonal concern rather than the resentment and frustration often observed in other grassroots spaces.

The central inquiry revolved around the imperative for immediate changes to foster mutual support and prevent burnout. This contemplation brought forth reflections on the sustainability of maintaining elevated standards, the feasibility of augmenting the team through new hires, and the unavoidable necessity for an upsurge in funding. This, in turn, ignited deliberations on who would shoulder the formidable responsibility of securing such resources.

In the midst of this complex financial landscape, Lindsey Smith, the Finance Director, emerges with a daunting but vital role. She skilfully navigates the intricacies of funding, adeptly managing and tracking finances, and delving into the intricate details associated with budgets and funds. Amidst the genuine concerns surrounding financial matters, Lindsey maintains a surprising calm demeanour. Instead of merely emphasising constraints dictated by the budget, she tirelessly seeks innovative solutions, striving to find a pathway that enables the team to achieve their objectives within the financial parameters. Her approach reflects not only financial acumen but a profound commitment to ensuring that financial considerations do not hinder the team’s pursuit of its goals.

This ongoing dialogue at The Stove Network centers around the concept of capacity, exploring the boundaries of individual endurance and contemplating its application across the entire organisation. This introspection underscores the organisation’s commitment to maintaining a healthy equilibrium between passion-fuelled excellence and pragmatic goal-setting, ensuring sustainable growth and well-being within The Stove community.

Under the guidance of Mia Osborne, the Creative Spaces project nurtures the artistic endeavours of three young talents (Korey Patterson, Martha Ferguson, and Sahar El Hady) over a span of ten months, allowing them to manifest a project of their own choosing. This particular facet of the Stove captivated my admiration, evoking a sense of nostalgia wishing I had been involved in such a dedicated incubation mentorship a decade earlier. Graciously, Mia extended an invitation for me to impart my insights through a workshop.

I settled upon the topic of “How to Write an Artist Statement,” a choice stemming from the perpetual challenge it has posed throughout my artistic journey. Crafting an artist statement is an unavoidable task for a practicing artist, essential for seeking opportunities and advocating for one’s creative identity. The enthusiasm and active participation within the Creative Spaces group proved to be nothing short of infectious. Together, we engaged in dynamic brainstorming sessions, meticulous editing processes, and collaborative workshopping, navigating the intricacies of crafting distinct and compelling artist statements. Through this immersive experience, I bore witness to the core essence of the program – a collaborative space designed to inspire, provoke thought, and actively engage with young artists, all while presenting them with valuable opportunities and enriching experiences.

Another compelling exploration was the first event I attended at The Stove Network, the Gaither Inn.

Designed as a community dinner to foster engaging discussions and craft a manifesto of hope, the evening was skilfully guided by Martin O’Neill. He prompted reflections on the elements instilling hope, the qualities inherent in spaces generating hope, and how to manifest it in the present.

This inquiry led me to the concept of “Homemade Mutant Hope Machines,” introduced by Martin through his association with the revolutionary London queer organisation, Duckie.

These machines, as defined by Duckie, are “emergent, autonomous, and adaptive forms and processes that routinely generate hope in the possibility of better worlds for people on the margins.” Strikingly, it became apparent that The Stove’s programming aligns with the characteristics of a Homemade Mutant Hope Machine – an autonomous creation, adapting when necessary, consistently producing outcomes, and being replicable all while capable of encouraging civic change.

Operating at the intersection of arts and community engagement, The Stove Cafe resides in the heart of Dumfries High Street. Deirdre Rooney and Pam Mackay, Cafe Co-Managers, create an atmosphere of connection through the friendly service and delicious food. It’s common to find the same people day-after-day, a true sign of an inviting and warm space: regulars. However, it’s not just a cafe, a meeting place, or an events venue; it’s a dynamic hub with full and diverse programming.

The team’s commitment to using arts and creativity to revitalise the town center is palpable and extends to a broad audience.

Sal Cuddihy, Production Lead, works tirelessly flipping the space from cafe to bread-making venue, to drag show stage, to movie theatre, to art studio and back again. Under her leadership she mentors and empowers a small team of production workers in gathering the skills to propose, plan, and implement an event of any scale.

What struck me most was the team’s exceptional cooperative spirit. With a core team overseeing specific projects, accountability is woven into the fabric of daily operations. However, what sets The Stove apart is the fluidity of partnership among co-workers and partners. It was a revelation to witness familiar faces in a myriad of meetings throughout the week, highlighting a level of involvement in each other’s projects that goes beyond mere professional courtesy. Often out of necessity, each team member wears many hats and they do it well.

Decisions at The Stove are not made in isolation; they are the result of open discussions and feedback from the staff. Through my interviews, I gathered that the associative decision-making process fosters an environment where each person’s work is valued. In each one-on-one interview, there was an emphasis on the appreciation for co-workers. What’s more surprising is the genuine advisory role that team members play in each other’s projects, even if not directly involved. The willingness to share insights and offer support speaks volumes about the cooperative culture that defines The Stove. More than once, I heard an employee ask for direction on “what to do next,” which in itself reflects a space that values learning, growth, and trust. Not knowing is welcome as it makes space for creative solutions, in which The Stove is well-versed.

Integrated within the weekly workflow is a system of tracking casual moments and highlights. This mechanism not only serves as a celebration of successes but also acts as a collective reminder of the positive impact they’ve had each week. It emphasises the importance of recognising and appreciating the team’s achievements, big and small, contributing to a culture of continuous evolution.

I see this also reflected in the public art showcased in the Cafe. Katie Anderson, Public Art Lead, hung two beautiful shows during my time. The first, a participatory installation that encouraged visitors to drop a token to vote for what they want Dumfries to invest in: outdoor spaces, heritage, the arts, etc… Then it rotated to a round-up of The Stove’s year in preparation for the Annual General Meeting demonstrated in photos, signage, and items made and utilised the year before. It illustrated the dynamic projects The Stove supports from Reel to Reel to the Wild Goose Festival.

The Stove’s dedication to core values such as risk-taking, collaboration, empowerment, positive disruptive change, innovation, and inclusion goes beyond mere articulation; it permeates the organisation’s culture and daily operations. This commitment to fostering a dynamic and inclusive environment serves as a catalyst for creative placemaking, a concept that recognises the transformative power of the arts and culture in shaping and revitalising spaces. The seamless collaboration and empowerment of every team member contribute to a harmonious synergy that propels The Stove towards its visionary goal of a revitalised High Street, region, and nation.

I was truly grateful for the opportunity the team gave me to observe their daily operations. It not only allowed me to develop an inside view of the inner workings, but also left me impressed by the enduring energy each team member brought to their work. However, as much as I relished being a shadow and absorbing insights, I felt a growing desire to contribute actively. It became clear that the daily shadowing was becoming more of a personal benefit than a reciprocal arrangement. In an effort to give back, I conceived a project that symbolises the interwoven essence of The Stove.

My initiative takes shape as a collaborative weaving project, an outdoor endeavour set up outside the Cafe on High Street with the entire team participating. In an effort to mirror the cooperative nature of The Stove we will make a “Stove Tartan” together. The four roles for the weaving symbolise different facets of the organisation. Stabilisers, holding the loom steady, represent the steadfast support and stability provided by teammates at The Stove. Mechanics, responsible for daily operations, embody those who maintain systems and troubleshoot with expertise. Weavers, using creativity to interconnect people, projects, and ideas, reflect an inquisitive and connective nature. Movers, characterised as action-oriented individuals, embody those driving progress and making things happen.

This weaving project not only expresses gratitude but also showcases the diverse and collaborative structure of The Stove. The final result, a large-scale weaving, will be left with The Stove to use as they see fit. This hands-on experience serves as a meaningful contribution and a demonstration of appreciation for the invaluable lessons learned during my time with the team.

Upon contemplation of this enriching experience, I find myself not only appreciative of the chance to observe the intricate operations of The Stove but also inspired to imbibe the invaluable lessons acquired into the fabric of my own community. The Stove’s unwavering commitment to introspection, adaptability, and maintaining a harmonious equilibrium between passion and pragmatism establishes a commendable standard for sustainable growth and overall well-being, both within the organisation and the encompassing community it serves.

Yet, amidst these insights, the paramount revelation lies in the pivotal role of the assembled team in fostering success. As evidenced during my time at The Stove, it becomes evident that a fervent work culture is a product of the collective efforts of dedicated individuals.


Artist Commission Opportunity – Open Call

This is a partnership commission with WWT Caerlaverock, and Glengoyne

WWT Caerlaverock, with the support of The Stove Network, wishes to commission an artist(s) to lead a public art project at their site in Dumfries.

Funded through a partnership with Glengoyne Distillery, the aim of this commission is to bring the partnership to life through a reimagining of the Glengoyne Bird Hide, highlighting shared key themes.

Expected outcomes include a permanent art installation and a series of community / stakeholder engagement activities.

Project Idea

The key theme for the commission is of slowing down and taking time – aligned with both WWT’s aim to encourage visitors to lengthen their stay within the Glengoyne bird hide, allowing the time to settle into the landscape, and with Glengoyne’s theme of the joy of slow.

Additionally, the works should aim to increase a sense of inclusion and welcome to the hide, whilst taking consideration of practical aspects such as durability and weather resistance.

The commission should begin with a period of research and development, the artist(s) spending time with the hides and gaining a thorough understanding of the accessible requirements of the space and it’s user groups.

This can take place both onsite, and off site through engaging specific communities of interest, such as with young people and / or school groups, with support from WWT Caerlaverock, The Stove Network and Glengoyne.

The artist(s) would also be invited to Glengoyne Distillery to see their wetlands and immerse themselves in the Glengoyne story.

From this initial development, the artist(s) should develop a proposal to focus on one of three key areas, to be completed within the scope and budget of the project commission:

  • Visual impact of the space through art installation
  • Alternative seating emphasising comfort and settling in
  • Alternative forms of interpretation within the space


The visual art element could take several forms, including options for wall murals or wall mounted displays, free standing elements that occupy the centre of the Hide (currently under-utilised), or hanging from the ceiling.

Seating should consider accessibility and durability but could include bespoke finishes or seating covers, using materials and elements that create a more welcoming environment for spending longer periods of time within the hide. Sensory elements could be considered here, and their impact on the space’s adaptability for a wider range of visitors/space users.

The existing interpretation panels are outdated and could be re-designed or considered for younger audiences or with a more contemporary approach to information and local knowledge sharing.

Budget and Materials

The total budget available for this project is £4,000.

This should include all artist fees, materials VAT (where applicable ) and expenses. On agreement of final proposal with WWT, additional budget may be possible for delivery of final artwork.

Application Process

Please supply the following:

  • An outline of your approach to the project proposal (max. 500 words). If you would like to submit in another format such as video or audio file please get in touch as we are happy to accommodate accessibility requirements.
  • Three examples of your work
  • CV or similar outlining your experience to date

Your entire submission should not exceed 10MB and should be sent to by email to: [email protected] with the heading ‘Glengoyne Hide Art Commission‘.

All submissions will be reviewed by a panel before a shortlisted selection of applications that will be invited to interview. Interviews are expected to take place on 13th-14th May 2024.

Project Timeline

  • Open Call: 11th April – 5th May 2024
  • Application Deadline: 9am, 6th May 2024
  • Selection Process: 7th-15th May 2024
  • Project Start Date: Research and Development: End May 2024
  • Community Engagement Sessions: June/July 2024
  • Agreement with WWT on final artwork proposals: End of July 2024
  • Fabrication and Installation: August – September 2024
  • Project launch/unveiling: October 2024 (coinciding with The Wild Goose Festival)

About WWT Caerlaverock and Glengoyne

WWT are the wetland restoration charity working for wetlands across the UK and the world. By working together with people we unlock the power of wetlands – and help nature burst back to life. Wetlands have the potential to save species from extinction, tackle climate change and improve our lives but we’re losing them at a staggering rate. That is why WWT is on a mission to restore wetlands and unlock their power.

Wetlands teem with biodiversity. They’re part of the natural infrastructure, providing essential protection against climate change, floods, droughts and pollution. They’re also vital for our health and wellbeing.

Wetlands like WWT Caerlaverock are one of the world’s most biodiverse habitats. They provide homes for many endangered species, offer a lifeline for freshwater species and act as vital ‘service stations’ for millions of migratory birds to rest and refuel. Many endemic species are found only in specific wetland areas. About 40% of the world’s plants and animals depend on wetlands.

Set up 50 years ago WWT Caerlaverock is a 1400 acre nature reserve on the north edge of the Solway Firth. It is a special home in the winter for thousands of ducks, swans, geese and waders, and in the summer for dragonflies, moths, spectacular spreads of wildflowers and rare invertebrates.

Longstanding WWT partner, Glengoyne, is the first Scotch whisky distillery to build its own water treatment wetlands on-site. Like WWT, they are leading the way with their focus on slowing down – as Glengoyne is distilled more slowly than any other malt whisky. The Glengoyne bird hide is single room log cabin style bird hide built 25 years ago and sits on the edge of the goose pastures of the Eastpark farm part of the nature reserve. The name ‘Glengoyne’ is derived from ‘Glen Guin’ or ‘valley of the geese’, which works wonderfully as a namesake for the hide. It can be a good place to see the Caerlaverock speciality, flocks of barnacle geese, but WWT are working to bring more nature all year round closer to the hide and make it an even more rewarding nature-watching experience.  

Musings News Project Updates

Anne Waggot Knott in conversation with community artist, Maya Rose Edwards

Written by Anne Waggot Knott

In preparation for ‘Raise the Sails’, a community festival celebrating a new vision for Stranraer’s harbour area and marking the culmination of public art project, ‘Harbour’ by artist Maya Rose Edwards, I asked Maya to share some of their reflections on the project so far. 

Maya, you’ve embedded yourself so joyously and emphatically in the town. Talk to me about Stranraer’s incredible community.

Where do I start? They’re marvellous. They stick together in a very fundamental, tangible way, a result of living somewhere on the edge of things. But despite the wonderful togetherness I’ve also found pockets of futility – people have big ideas and are very impassioned, but there’s a shared sense of being on the wrong side of history. 

The younger generation faces real challenges and lack of opportunity. But, encouragingly, they have a vision of what the place could be, not blighted by what it was or hasn’t been. They’ve got an energy about them which is really exciting. Allowing space for young, positive voices is essential for community regeneration. 

Stranraer is a hub for a lot of surrounding villages. There’s a distinct rurality and sometimes a certain disconnection with the rest of Dumfries and Galloway. But this also generates pride and determination: “Stranraer is brilliant and we’ll make sure you know that, and if you don’t accept it we’ll keep it for ourselves.” Fine, and fair enough!

There are pockets of potential change; people with great ideas, inspiration, a lot of fight. People that show up, show an interest, are hardworking and inquisitive. The Urban Collective, the Men’s Shed, Stevie at the fishing shop, Vivienne at the Community Re-Use Shop, young people from the college. There are so many more… I feel like I’ve developed real, reciprocal relationships in the town, proper friendships. 

One thing that strikes me is that there are lots of people and organisations developing plans for the future, but they need to talk to each other. Hopefully I’ve started helping them make those connections. 

Your project brims with connectivity but also has a basis in activism and disruption. How can this light the touchpaper for change?

For a community with a historical legacy of being let down again and again, there’s only so much fight that they can conjure from within themselves. For me, the ability to make a mark in this respect was so important. 

The idea of occupying space, either with an artwork or your body, can generate change. Parts of Stranraer have suffered from the management of decline, but it’s happening so slowly that the locals sometimes miss it. Creating unexpected things to look at, things that catch your eye or that you can interact with, generates a strong shift in people. It’s my job to equip people with the tools to do that themselves, help them see that standing up for a change they want to see is always an option.

There’s something about being an outsider that makes this possible. Sometimes you need someone with a fresh perspective to come and say, how about we try this?

One of the biggest markers was when we spraypainted the Harbour wall mural. It kicked up some fuss, but it turned a dial. It generated conversation, which generated understanding, then finally an expectation about what’s coming next. It could have failed, but it didn’t. Tiptoeing around wasn’t going to work. I had to set an example that risky moves are ok. 

Risk is an important tool. When a community doesn’t feel in control there’s a sense of disempowerment. By choosing a risky action you choose the level of control for yourself rather than having it put upon you. It’s also a great way to get a big response from a lot of people and get the conversations started.

What are your project highlights?

The high points are unquestionably about bringing people together.  

The graffiti with the college kids, one of the very first things we did together. Their sense of pride was evident, marking a real moment of arrival. Similarly, we’ll be marking my departure with the festival in April. 

The Sea Witch sculpture day was great. Everyone brought different perspectives but a common purpose, which then flowed outwards into the community. Looking through the beachcombed objects was important in a cross-generational way – older people had memories about the pottery and plastic soldiers, young people recognised the vapes as part of their own history. The sea collects and spits out these stories, mixed and matched and collaged together – everyone’s past, present and future is there. Creating a character from those lost objects was a beautiful thing to see.

Making sails at The Hub was fabulous fun! We had people of all ages helping each other out. Kids that wouldn’t normally be in a room together. Older women who said art drop-ins should be prescribed on the NHS, that it’s like therapy. Tiny, naughty tots just running around painting themselves. We had a blast.

None of the above means anything without quiet moments though. Someone brings you a cuppa. The hello-in-Tesco moments. The guy in the chippie asking how the project is going. Like having a baker or a teacher, every town should have a community artist. Creativity has a huge impact on people and places. 

What have been your biggest challenges?

There have been just as many challenges as highlights! In simple terms, sometimes you just want to shake people who think change is impossible. That sense of futility being so ingrained, to the extent that it influences others too. Trying to unpick it has been a real challenge. But I also have a lot of respect and understanding for it.

At the very least, what seeds can I sow? I’m planting seeds in the middle of that knot of futility. But it’s a massive responsibility and has to be undertaken really carefully.

It’s also been hard to bring to attention things that people firmly don’t want to look at. That brings vulnerabilities. You can see these things very, very brightly when you come from elsewhere but dealing with them sensitively is often difficult. 

I see you working with other people’s vulnerabilities but in order to do that you need to make yourself vulnerable as an artist too, don’t you? It’s reciprocal.

Yes. You’ve got to expose bits of yourself too, so it’s an exchange. That’s how I’ve built trust and relationships. I really enjoy it and it’s integral to my practice. 

Stranraer is a community partly built on migration which is an interesting dynamic to work with. You have the embedded generational impacts over time and then you have people who come here and see it with fresh eyes as a great place to live. Once those people have a conversation with each other, possibilities emerge.  

The way the waterfront is cut off from the town by the road is a huge problem. You can’t just wander down to the waterfront, you have to actively cross several lanes of traffic. Those historical planning decisions have massive impacts when considering public spaces. 

Interestingly, not everybody sees themselves as a community of the sea; there’s also a challenge in the disconnect between the people who use the water and the people who use the land. Sometimes they don’t realise that they’re each other’s greatest asset and many of them want the same things. It’s like a glass wall, and nobody wants to be the one to make the first move. So there have been occasions when it’s my job to make the first move on behalf of everybody and nobody.

That’s interesting, can you expand on that a bit more?

For people originally from Stranraer, the water is a historically dangerous place due to sea waves from the ferries. It wasn’t always about having a good time and mucking about on the beach, it was a place of industry. Seeing people using it in a leisurely way, when first and foremost it’s a place for work, that grates. So there’s almost a moral judgement: you have the luxury of time to play around, but we need the water to make a living. I’ve come to understand that it can generate a bit of friction. 

There’s something exciting about the waterfront as common ground though, as the physical place for people to come together, because of its status in between. At the minute, aside from the working harbour, parts of it feel unexciting and inhospitable. People say, why would I want to occupy that middle ground, there’s nothing there? We need to change not only what we put in that space, but what it means to people and how it can reflect them. 

Let’s talk about Raise the Sails, the harbour festival on 20th April, the project finale.

It’s a free, daytime festival with food, live music and exciting activities for all ages, held at the Unexpected Garden on Saturday 20th April, 11am-2pm. There’s a very special event at 12 noon, so come down early!

I have a lot of hope for this, bringing people together. Stranraer has a long history of festivals – it’s a language the community speaks. It’ll be creatively out of the ordinary but really enjoyable, something people will remember. This is my final chance to plant a seed in those knots, and reach people I’ve missed. 

Food, music, activities for kids – we’re listening to the necessities then adding so much more. I’m hoping the legacy continues to unfold quite slowly over the coming months. That those seeds start to grow.

And finally, why should folk join us at Raise the Sails? 

For the sake of sheer nosiness, just pop down – you’re going to get a free meal! Be open to something you might not expect. It’s an opportunity to come together. And anyway, what else are you doing on a Saturday morning?!

See you there. Bring your hopes, dreams, friends, and family. We can raise the sails together. 

‘Raise The Sails’

A special community festival taking place in the Unexpected Garden, Stranraer

Saturday 20 April 

11am – 2pm

News Project Updates

Raising the Sails and Raising the Game

Written by Anne Waggot Knott, Project Researcher and Reporter

A spotlight on the work of community artist, Maya Rose Edwards, in Stranraer.

Diving into Stranraer’s history paints an evocative picture. A proud port town and a vibrant, prosperous meeting place. Its connection to the sea meant connections right across the world.

This rich history, full of local stories, memories and reflections are explored in the work of artist Maya-Rose Edwards. Commissioned and supported by The Stove Network, Maya is using their creative practice to spark new ideas about Stranraer’s waterfront and how it can once again form a vital part of the community, infrastructure, and identity of the town.

It’s been years since the all-important ferry terminal was moved to Cairnryan and, following a fire at Ayr station over six months ago, the train from Glasgow doesn’t currently stop at its unique waterfront destination on the East Pier. Maya’s project, ‘Harbour’, has identified the challenges faced by these changes. Through creative consultations and engagement activities with local people, they’ve supported parts of this community to continue to grow in confidence, to express their opinions and to work collaboratively to lead the change they want to see in their town. 

Research shows that proximity to the coast boosts our health and wellbeing, yet Stranraer’s wide roads, car parks and security fencing separate the town from the seashore. Despite this, the community has responded to the provocations initiated by Maya’s approach, galvanising the town’s fighting spirit, to reconnect with, revitalise and reimagine Stranraer’s iconic waterfront.

It only takes a tiny bit of research to understand that Stranraer has been let down again and again. Grand plans for the waterfront have been unveiled before, or built, removed, or fallen into decline. Promises made but rarely sustained. But, despite the departure of the final ferry, there remains a canny vibrancy in Stranraer, a strong sense of place and pride, locals and incomers, warmth and tradition, prosperity, and innovation. It’s a wonderful place to be. Yet all this potential seems somewhat unrecognised by a very specific combination of circumstances, policy decisions, and an apathy borne of a long history of false starts. 

Urban Collective Presenting at a Creative Stranraer Vision + Action Meeting

But now if feels as if the tide is turning. Strong glimmers of hope are arriving. There’s a cumulative explosion of funding and progress right now, much of it driven by arts, culture and sport: Creative Stranraer, the George Hotel, the Unexpected Garden, the Urban Collective, the Stanctuary, Spring Fling Rural Mural, the new Water Sports Centre, Dumfries & Galloway Council and various community groups are working in conjunction with Stranraer’s Place Plan and associated activities. This is a huge opportunity to rethink the waterfront. It’s time to seize the moment. 

That’s exactly what Maya has helped people do over the last six months.

Maya has delivered collaborative arts activities and conversations with over 500 participants. Children and families built a Sea Witch from coastal plastic gathered by the Beach Cleaners – you can see it in the Harbourmaster’s Office window; newly-empowered college students painted a guerrilla mural showing just how much they love Oor Wee Toon; drop-in visitors set hopes and dreams afloat in paper boats, and young people made Portholes to the Future.

At the same time, unexpected installations appeared. Mysterious doorways arrived along the seafront overnight, dreamlike portals for us to depart from the present and arrive in an imagined future. Silhouettes emerged on the security fencing at the East Pier, inviting us to take ownership of that wasteland once again.

Throughout, Maya worked deeply in and with the community. Everything has been co-created. Each work involved reaching out and forging new partnerships, listening to Stranraer and building layers of understanding.

All these interventions have brought people together and sparked impassioned conversations about the waterfront. Maya encouraged an openness about the challenges and frustrations, but also reignited hopes, dreams and actions.

We’re looking forward to ‘Raise the Sails’, a free waterfront festival in April. This will be a culmination of all the work so far, a chance to enjoy food, music, performance and a bonanza of community ideas.

‘Raise The Sails’

A special community festival taking place in the Unexpected Garden, Stranraer

Saturday 20 April

11am – 2pm

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