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 Project Updates

Dumfries Fountain, Unveiled

By Katie Anderson

Small pebbles can make big waves, right? And change doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a slow burning, incremental process for the most part, but every so often there are moments when you can really see the change happening.

On the 1st June, the Dumfries Fountain was turned back on after many years without a water supply. Unveiled from behind the metal hoardings that have fenced off a section of the High Street whilst works took place to completely restore this Victorian beauty to its original glamour.

I’ve been on the Dumfries Fountain Restoration project team for a few years now on behalf of The Stove Network. My role involving the support and drive for a wider community engagement plan as part of the works. Supporting artists and community activists to take part in the project and have their voices heard.

Why this? Why now? What impact does this restoration, caretaking and renewal have on our town?

It won’t solve the potholes in the road, or absentee landlords, or sea gulls or long-term employment, but as an iconic monument that has stood in the heart of the town for over 100 years, that witnesses and stands as a marker of where we have come from and where we are going – monuments like the fountain are surely worth preserving. We need investment into the town, an approach of care and responsibility for the landmarks that give our everyday a sense of place and identity, and a vision for how our public spaces can be.

As part of the restoration we have realised the importance of telling the story of the fountain. How it came to be here and it’s place in the history of the town. The restoration, now completed, forms part of this story. As we move forward, and to mark this a series of nine bronze floor plaques have been set into the cobbles surrounding the fountain, telling the history of the town through its connection to water.

The plaques designs are inspired by water droplets from the fountain, the textures of the sand out on the Solway and a small nod to cup and ring marks found in the depths of Galloway. Their penny-like finish feels in keeping with the space and since their unveiling, passers-by have been seen adding their own pennies back into the newly refurbished fountain bowls. Over time the plaques will develop their own patina as many feet and weathers move over them.

It’s not been a solo work by any stretch, working first with the creative team at The Stove Network, then writer and historian JoAnne McKay on the texts and dates, pattern maker Ruth Davies on the final patterns and printed elements, Lost Art who led on the casting and finishing works and Stevie at Kirk Masonry on the installation.

Projects like these are only possible with the attention and perseverance of many hands behind the scenes. Kirsten Scott and the St Michael’s Primary School class groups campaigned for years for the works to be undertaken and since those beginnings it’s taken many folks from a wide variety of backgrounds to see the project through, from council teams to the skilled artisans of Lost Art and various specialist contractors amongst many others.

The step over the threshold from bystander into a more active citizenship can be a bit of a leap of faith, but in raising a flag, pitching in, making space for the voices of others to be heard we create the potential for change, the act of making together a town of possibility.

Find out ore about the restoration process on Fountain’s own Facebook Page.

Tp celebrate the official unveiling of the Fountain, The Stove will be will be hosting a series of events, from talks about the restoration process with archaeologists, to creative workshops, history tours and exhibitions. Find our more here.

Katie has been a part of the Stove since 2013, and currently delivers her role on a freelance basis alongside her own personal creative work from her studio in Annandale. Her role at The Stove as Public Art Lead, supports core Stove programming with additional activities and events including Reel to Real Cinema and Conversing Building which offers specific support for projects that hold public art elements, and also develops it’s own distinctive projects that explore public spaces in and around the town centre.

Musings News Project Updates

An Eco-Conscious European Adventure

In this guest blog post, Climate Kitchen co-organiser Kirsty Turpie tells you all about her summer cycling around Europe in 2022.

Last summer I set out on a trip that I’d dreamt about for a long time… well kind of. I’d always hoped of going on a multi-country trip or spending a long period of time abroad. But I imagined I would inter-rail with friends, work or volunteer abroad, or travel in a camper van.

At the beginning of last year I started dreaming about the trip being in a camper van. I had it all planned out in my head how I’d decorate the van inside and out. I was going to use my creative skills to pimp it up to the max. It was going to be a vision of love and peace on four wheels… I would take all of my art materials with me too and be able to work on projects on the move. I would be as they say ‘living the dream’. So, I went ahead and bought a van. But all the time that I was plotting and planning and buying, there was a niggling voice in my head that said ‘What about the environment, what about climate change!?’

Being part of the Climate Kitchen organising team and being at our events amplified this thought in my head. At the Climate Kitchen we’re always exploring how we can be kinder to the planet and minimise our impact on climate change. In addition to this, I’ve always believed in Gandi’s message, ‘Be the change you’d like to see in the world’. So, I bit the bullet, sold the van, researched everything I’d need for long distance cycle-touring and spent my savings on a beautiful cycle-touring bike and all the gear! It was time to be the change!

I definitely felt nervous… ‘what was it going to be like being a solo-female cycling abroad?’, ‘what was it going to be like being a solo-female camper?’, ‘would I be able to fix the bike if something broke?’, ‘what if I got stuck at the top of a mountain with no signal and a broken bike!?’.

I was slightly consoled by the fact that a friend of a friend had completed a similar trip around Europe. I read his blog and was able to speak to him on the phone about some of my concerns. I was also now determined to do it by bike as it was going to be more sustainable, kinder on the wallet, much better exercise and I’d be in the sunshine all day everyday! On top of this, my aims for the trip were to see more of Europe, visit a friend in Croatia, go to festivals that I’d wanted to visit for a long time, meet new people, learn about different cultures, visit the European Baha’i temple, be inspired creatively, learn new songs and be surrounded by beautiful nature, all whilst travelling sustainably.

So, I set off from Dumfries on Monday 23rd May and spent two days cycling to Newcastle. I then got the ferry over to the Netherlands to begin my European adventure. I planned to be away for three months and to visit nine countries. Because I had numerous countries I wanted to visit I also had to use some
trains and buses on top of cycling. But, a third of the trip and 1526 miles to be exact were done on bike. 😉 Quite the achievement for someone who’s longest previous trip was fifty miles!

So, what was it like being a solo-female cyclist and camper in nine different European countries? Well, extremely pleasant! I only felt unsafe once, and that was when I decided to wild camp in the South of France as I was fed up of paying campsite prices. I was actually wild camping in a safe spot, so the feeling of being unsafe was most likely just in my head. But the rest of the time, I felt fine. I could rely on the Komoot cycling app or Google maps to get me to where I needed to go. I could look up campsites online and phone ahead to book, or rock up and book a spot for the night.

I also used the Warm Showers app, which is like couch surfing for cyclists. People all over the world that are also keen cyclists offer up a space in their home for the night for free to help fellow cyclists out. I stayed with couples in Toulouse, Carcasonne and Biarritz in France and they were all super lovely. The couple I stayed with in Toulouse were very experienced cycle-tourists and gave me loads of great advice and maps for the next leg of my journey. It was an absolute pleasure to meet and learn from them!

Everywhere I went on the bike people were really friendly and curious to speak to me about my trip. They would offer me advice about routes or great local spots to check out, and people would help me out if they seen me trying to lift my bike and heavy luggage on or off a train. If I’d been driving through towns in a camper van I definitely wouldn’t have spoke to as many people or had as nice interactions. All I would have seen would have been roads and service stations. I still had to cycle on roads sometimes but I also got to view some spectacular landscapes from field and tree lined cycle paths.

Cycling definitely helped me to achieve my goal of spending the summer being surrounded by beautiful nature. When I was cycling in the South of France I spent four days cycling next to a canal. It was so idyllic cycling next to the blue water, dotted with interesting canal boats and floating homes. Myself and the fellow Spanish cyclist I was cycling with at the time, would stop for lunch next to the canal and go in for a quick swim and cool down each day before cycling in the hot afternoon sun. It was absolutely delightful!

As well as chatting to locals as I cycled through quaint towns, I also bumped in to fellow cycle-tourists. On some occasions we were going the same way so we’d travel together for a day or two and make fast friends. I cycled with a German couple over the Ofenpass from Switzerland to Italy. It was my most gruelling day of cycling so I was very happy for the company and encouragement. I spent time cycling in France with Belgian, Swiss, Argentinian, Italian, Spanish and French cyclists. It was so wonderful to share stories and tips. It was also quite funny to be chatting away and acting like a pro after the first month, even though it was my first trip!

And, I never got stuck up a mountain with a broken bike. Actually, I didn’t even get any punctures in the whole three months! So I only needed to stop for sandwiches and not to pump up my tyres… what a relief! So big shout out to Schwalbe Marathon tyres ;-). The only issue I had with the bike was the discomfort of the saddle and height of the seat post on the first two days of cycling. Luckily a friend in Newcastle gave me her Selle Italia gel flow saddle before I got on the ferry and when I got to the
Netherlands I went in to a bike shop and they shortened and lowered the seat post for me. Finding a comfortable position and saddle really did make all the difference. So, I definitely recommend getting your bike set up properly before going on a long distance trip. Padded shorts and chamois cream,
won’t go amiss either!!

So, I could talk forever about everything I learnt, seen and experienced but I don’t want to bore you all to tears. If you’d like to hear a bit more though and find out my top cycle-touring tips, then come along to Climate Kitchen next Friday 16th June at The Stove Cafe. A free community meal is provided at 5:30pm and then the event is from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Climate Kitchen organiser Katie will also be talking about her experience of cycle-touring and we’ll have some great activities going on including how to fix a puncture and a chance to give it a go, route planning advice, reading corner and a chat about cycling infrastructure.

And, finally. I would 100% recommend seeing the world by bike, if that is an option for you! It’s such a wonderful way to travel and with a little bit of determination… anything is possible.

Kirsty Turpie is a co-organiser of Climate Kitchen; one of our Open Hoose projects at the Stove. A community artist and graphic designer, Kirsty has a large passion for many areas of creativity and especially enjoys working on purposeful projects that can enhance a space or help others in the community to learn new skills and express themselves.

You can learn more about Kirsty by visiting her website HERE.

Open Hoose is a project at the heart of the Stove’s community venue. Ideas are given the space, time, resources and support of the Stove Network to launch ambitious projects to galvanise and gather our communities together. From climate cafes to bread clubs, jam nights and creative writing groups, Open Hoose offers an eclectic mix of different activities for everyone to take part in. 

Musings News Project Updates

Karl Drinkwater on WRITE!

The author, and host of the monthly creative writing workshop, shares what you can expect at a regular WRITE! meet-up.

“What goes on in a session of WRITE? Are there funny handshakes, grumpy faces, and writing snobs? I thought about coming but I haven’t ever written much.”

My experience of these sessions is smiling faces and laughter, people making friends, and just a shared joy of words. There’s no pretension, no criticism, no expectations of perfection. The people who’ve attended have been such a welcoming bunch that I love running the sessions!

The general format for a session is that people turn up and chat over a hot drink (and maybe cake), welcomed by the lovely Stove team. Then we get started and usually I get everyone to say their name, and maybe I make that into some kind of game related to the theme of the session.

Then we’ll move on to some thoughts relating to the writing topic or subject that I’ve picked for the night. We’ve had sessions discussing myths and legends; how to describe places or people; the importance of friends; beginnings and endings; and many more. Usually I’ll have questions or quotes to prompt discussion, and to give ideas. People take part as much or as little as they like. It’s fine just to listen!

The WRITE! ‘Writing Board’ at the session on ‘Place’.

That’s when we get to the main part, where we all do some writing related to the theme. I’ll usually offer a few options and some prompts, then we have 20 minutes to write whatever takes our fancy. It doesn’t even matter if it’s nothing to do with the theme – the key thing is that it is a chance to let our imaginations
free and write something that might never have appeared on paper (or screen) otherwise. It can be prose, or poem, or dialogue, or word lists, or doodles, I don’t care.

At that point we usually split into groups and everyone has the opportunity to read out some or all of what they wrote, if they wish. It’s totally optional, but everyone should have the chance. We never need to apologise for how rough it is: it’s accepted that it is an unedited idea. All that matters is the potential, and
we approach the readings and chat as if we are all good friends, supporting each other (which is actually what we are!)

And that’s it. Nothing crazy. Just a situation that encourages creativity, and an opportunity to give ourselves the time to enjoy it. If you don’t create the opportunity, nothing will happen.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never written before, or you’re the world’s best author. We’re all equal in that room. We all have our own thoughts, our own voices, and that’s what’s so fascinating. Give ten people the same prompt, you get ten different creations. I love that.

WRITE! is the creative workshop at The Stove that gives you the space to guide your imagination and transform it into writing.

Hosted by multi-genre author and editor Karl Drinkwater, WRITE! is designed to allow you to play with words and construct short or longer pieces of work, whichever you desire, and it is open to all abilities!

If you would like to attend the next WRITE! session, click here.

To learn more about Karl, and to visit his website, click here.

Open Hoose is a project at the heart of the Stove’s community venue. Ideas are given the space, time, resources and support of the Stove Network to launch ambitious projects to galvanise and gather our communities together. From climate cafes to bread clubs, jam nights and creative writing groups, Open Hoose offers an eclectic mix of different activities for everyone to take part in. Find out more about groups like this one on our Open Hoose page, here.

Musings News

A Culture of Participation aka ‘Growing Our Own Culture’

By Matt Baker

In this post I’m going to talk about sport, or specifically, about how we value and fund sport in Scotland and how this could positively enhance culture[1] in Scotland and deliver on our national strategy for culture[2]

We fund sport in Scotland in two ways, firstly we support sports venues, organisations, individual sportspeople, international competitions and the promotion of sport. So, a very similar picture to the way we fund culture.

But, importantly, we also fund grassroots sports development, local clubs and opportunities for everyone to take part in sport. It can be strongly argued that this support for participation in sport embeds many of the qualities of sport in our nation – such as teamwork, self-improvement, physical activity etc far more so than would be achieved by simply watching others playing sports. It also clearly drives an accessibility and inclusion which we see demonstrated in the diversity of backgrounds of successful sportspeople and those who comment on/present and administrate sport.

I need to say before I start to talk directly about support for culture that all my arguments are based on the foundation that we must retain the support we already give to culture. Everything I am saying here is about additional support which compliments, enhances and relies on continuing support for our national cultural infrastructure and development.

Fundamentally, in Scotland, we do not have a comparable second strand of support for participation in culture. In 1946, the first chairman of the Arts Council of Gt Britain announced, ‘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’[3] and that is still pretty much the principle of how we fund culture in Scotland today. As a result, culture has ended up in something of a silo of its own, concerned with culture in and of itself rather than the potential for culture to make the deepest contribution to society as a whole.

Yes, we do our best with the cultural support we have in Scotland to encourage growth from the grassroots of our communities and there are some incredible isolated examples of this – but fundamentally Scotland does not have a clear policy or a mechanism to support widespread participation in culture. There are many cultural groups, projects and organisations that promote grassroots participation, however, in order to support their work, they find themselves in competition for funds with other groups working in food poverty, addiction services etc and unsurprisingly ‘culture’ often misses out, seen as a ‘nice to have’ but not ‘necessary’.

So, why is the situation for sport so different? The straightforward answer is that sport made a focussed and sustained case for the health impacts of physical activity and inclusion in communities. One direct outcome of improving people’s wellbeing through sport is that there is less demand on the health service with a consequent saving of money. 

Culture has a myriad of similar arguments for the societal value of participating in and shaping the culture of the country:

  • Mental health/wellbeing and positive pathways for disadvantaged individuals/communities
  • Reducing social isolation
  • Education in teamwork, problem-solving and adaptability
  • Community cohesion/safety
  • Community visioning and placemaking
  • Innovation growing new businesses and social enterprises

(to name but a few…)

So, why don’t we have support for participation in culture as we do in sport? I believe that part of the answer lies in the very multiplicity of societal impacts from participation in culture, the argument can become diffuse and unclear because of its diversity. However, the issue also lies with the culture sector itself, we have been starved of investment for so long that we cling with white knuckles to what we have and that the way we are used to doing things. In that anxious state the concern expressed is that a participation strand in culture would somehow dilute the quality of our cultural offer by setting up a two-tier system of ‘first and second class art’. The argument goes that this could disrupt the perfectly equal and accessible meritocracy we have now. In truth, culture is the very opposite of equal and accessible currently, and risks side-lining itself into irrelevance unless it finds the confidence and optimism to open itself up and be part of the change required to build a society that is founded on wellbeing, fairness, and opportunity for all.

And of course, as with sport, funding grassroots participation is wholly dependent on the existence of, and a relationship with, a strong and healthy professional cultural sector.

Making the Case

I believe the opportunity and case for supporting culture as a key building block towards a Wellbeing Economy has yet to be effectively made to our politicians, so that they can lay a pathway of understanding and support in parliament and government. The Culture Strategy offers a policy framework for this work, and I’d propose we’d use the strategy as a foundation for making the case through its three pillars of Strengthening, Transforming, Empowering through culture and its core principle of culture being ‘mainstreamed’ across all the portfolios of government.

We need to work across portfolios and in collaboration with those working in government and policy and listen to advice about how to make the case for participation in culture. In the spirit of furthering the idea, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on how such an idea might be implemented. These are simply in the form of a framework or principles for making embedding participation in culture one of the features of the Scottish nation.

A Percentage for Culture

Because of the diverse impacts of cultural participation any approach needs to be cross-portfolio (health/wellbeing, education/lifelong learning, communities/regeneration, justice, economy/enterprise). An idea that has been talked of for a while is a ‘percentage for culture’ – this could take the form of a tiny percentage of the budgets of departments whose outcomes could benefit from the impacts of participation in culture (see list above) being allocated to cultural participation programmes.

A principle of any ‘percentage for culture’ policy would require that the departments contributing budget would hold accountability and a degree of control of how budget is spent and the delivery of outcomes. How this would work in practice is beyond the scope of this paper. All I seek to do is propose some principles, one being that a ‘percentage for culture’ cannot simply be handed to a cultural agency to be distributed without the ongoing involvement of the departments contributing to the scheme. Long-term impact and change in society needs to be built into this idea and the mechanism for growing deeper and more integrated joint working between culture and other departments of government.

Other thoughts on implementation would be a need/opportunity for a regional and place-based approach reflecting the very different challenges and opportunities of working within the urban and rural areas of the country. Such an initiative would also be an opportunity to explore the potential for longer-term funding agreements with programmes, projects and organisations. This is a principle that comes up in every sector consultation and the benefits to service users, service providers and funders of long-term agreements has been clearly articulated. One possibility could be to use ‘percentage for arts’ public funding as the basis for regional (or national?) ‘endowments for culture’[4] which could lever additional funds from local sources to develop added value and security for participation in culture.

A Framework

In summary a Participation in Culture Initiative framework could include:

  • Percentage for culture across government departments
  • Accountability/collaboration across departments in implementation of Participation in Culture
  • Regional/place-based approach to implementation
  • Innovation in funding models

I’d be very interested to hear from anyone with thoughts about supporting participation in culture and particularly anyone who’d like to help develop the case. Please get in touch at [email protected] or @_mattbaker on Twitter

[1] ‘Everyone has the right to participate freely in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits’ (Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

[2] ‘Scotland is a place where culture is valued, protected and nurtured. Culture is woven through everyday life, shapes and is shaped by society, and its transformative potential is experienced by everyone.’ (Culture Strategy for Scotland. 2020) Full strategy here

[3] The beginnings of the British Arts Council and its shift away from ‘participation in culture’ to ‘professionalised culture’ is well covered in ‘Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art
– The British Community Arts Movement’ edited by Alison Jeffers and Gerri Moriaty.

[4] The work of Leah Black at EVOC is instructive in this regard – see her initial report into setting up a long-term fund for Third Sector organisations in Edinburgh

Matt Baker is the Orchestrator of The Stove Network and one of The founders of the organisation. His challenge is to remain attuned to the overall direction of The Stove, through remaining true to our values and leading a culture of learning, empowerment and excellence within our organisation. Matt is also the interim chair of the National Partnership for Culture, the independent group appointed by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture to support the delivery of the national culture strategy.

Musings News Project Updates

Year in Reflection

What has The Stove achieved over the last year?

2022 was an exciting year for us here at The Stove. From developing new projects, expanding and delivering ongoing ones and growing opportunities for creatives in the region, we’re immensely proud of the team, and so thankful for the continued support of our members, customers, communities and partners, all of whom have played a part in the story of The Stove.

Looking back at all the fantastic things the Stove team have accomplished from April 22’ to March 23’, we asked our team to reflect on their highlights of the year:

Saying Hello and Goodbye

From April 2022 onwards, we had a year of providing opportunities at the Stove. During this time, we awarded the total value of £237 537 of contracts to people, 56% of which were under 25 and 86% were local.

We said goodbye to two members of staff this year who have left to grow and complete projects and career goals of their own, Edith and Beth. We said hello to five members of new staff over the course of the year. This year we were fortunate to work with a brilliant new team of Creative Spacers; Alice, Emma and Morgan, and we said hello to two new members of our comms team; WWDN Content Creator Malcolm, and Marketing Assistant Erin. Last year we also welcomed our community events producers, who have been supporting Open Hoose; Leanne & Mia. You can learn more about our team via our The Stove Team page. Our Production lead, Sal Cuddihy, shared the following thoughts about our producers;

“Its’ been an absolute pleasure having Leanne and Mia join our team this year to pilot a Creative Event Producer program, they both have done some amazing things this year, working with a wide range of communities to deliver events. Now with Meg as our newest edition to the production family, I’m super proud of them all!”

Sal Cuddihy (Production Lead) on our Community Event Producers

22/23 Projects at The Stove

Open Hoose

Open Hoose is a project at the heart of the Stove’s community venue. Ideas are given the space, time, resources and support of the Stove Network to launch ambitious projects to galvanise and gather our communities together.

The projects that have been nurtured through our Open Hoose programme this year have been; Doughlicious, Free Improvisation, Queer Club, The Hoose, WRITE!, Climate Kitchen, Nith Life, Doongamers and Repair Shop.

Our Community Events Producers shared the following about their involvement with Open Hoose: 

“My Highlight of last year was watching community groups grow through our Open Hoose program in numbers and ambitions throughout the year.”

Leanne Bradwick (Community Events Producer)

Working on Open Hoose events makes you realise what’s possible when you empower the community to take a lead in local programming. The possibilities are endless and the impact this has had on individuals and the wider community has been invaluable.

Mia Osborne (Creative Spaces & Community Events Producer)

You can read more about Open Hoose HERE.

High Street Multiverse

High Street Multiverse is a digital, public art project run by the Stove Network, supported by Dumfries & Galloway Unlimited. This project saw different QR codes being stationed at different points on Dumfries High Street with different content to access when scanned.

You can find out more about High Street Multiverse here.

Brave New Words

Brave New Words continued throughout 2022, before coming to a bittersweet ending. Brave New Words was the Stove’s monthly open mic night for writers, artists, musicians and songwriters to share words spoken or sung to an audience in the heart of the town centre. 

“Brave New Words – I cried, I laughed, I contemplated and I was inspired!'”

Lindsey Smith (Finance & Operations Manager)

You can read about Brave New Words HERE.

It sadly saw its last hurrah but keep an eye out on our programme to see any future developments

WWDN & kNOw One Place

2022 was a big year for WWDN – our creative placemaking network. WWDN supports partnerships between artists and community organisations across Dumfries & Galloway, co-creating with local communities to develop new projects, local plans, training, and enterprise. 

Kathryn Wheeler, our WWDN Project Lead shared the following about the previous year.

“Last year has been one full of changes, as most are in both the areas of community and cultural working. The focus of my work has grown more and more towards the development the What We Do Now project, working with the team here, and the community organisations involved, to shape a network that can support creative projects to emerge from communities across the region with the aim of starting new and inspiring things in those places. A highlight for me was September, when we were able to stage Scotland’s first ever Creative Placemaking forum, welcoming artists, community groups, policy-makers, funders, to share their ideas on the value of this work and the impact it could have for our communities if properly supported. For me it really highlighted how our small corner of the world is punching way above its weight.”

Katherine Wheeler (Partnerships & Project Development)

Malcolm Struthers our WWDN Content Creator shared the following thoughts about their involvement with WWDN last year,

“It has been a pleasure to help share the story of What We Do Now, and how it has grown and developed over the past year. In particular to help showcase the variety of activities that have taken place across the region, in the communities that are part of this ground-breaking initiative.

Malcolm Struthers (WWDN Content Creator)

KNOONE Place took place in Dumfries in September 2022 and was an ambitious, future-thinking discussion on how communities can use creativity to lead the development of their places. 

You can read KNOONE Place HERE, and you can visit the WWDN website HERE.


A highlight in our calendar every year, Nithraid returned with a splash in in 2022. Nithriad Festival celebrates and explores Dumfries’ long relationship with its river and its importance to people and the communities it connects in the past, present and future.

Each year we hold a River Race to celebrate our heritage and connection to the Nith. The 2022 race was saturated in sunshine and saw lots of people venture along the Nith.

Production Lead Sal shared the following about last years race;

“Now part of the fixtures for coastal rowing and canoing we had over 40 different vessels competing on the river Nith, that and the weather being in our favour for a change, saw the river the busiest it has ever been with competitors and was incredible to see.”

Sal Cuddihy (Production Lead)

You can read more about Nithraid here, and follow the Nithraid Instagram account here.

Public Art

2022 was also a big year for Public Arts. Public Art activity at the Stove supports core programming with additional activities exploring temporary or permanent uses in public space, as well as offering support to external projects such as the fountain project. From the Progressive Seagull Alliance (yet to be trademarked but watch this space), to the beginning of the Fountain Restoration project, a wealth a public art projects have been carried out across the year. 

Reel to Real Cinema delivered monthly screenings of cinematic gems. From documentary to artists made shorts, independent to international film. We aim to bring people together to share food, film and discussion. Katie, our public art lead shared the following about Reel to Real, 

“In August we hosted a special screening of Long Live My Happy Head with the filmmakers, Gordon Shaw and friends. Gordon left a truly inspirational mark on all of us and I feel privileged to have been able to host the space. And just last month, we hosted a screening of [BREATHE] from Orchestras Live in the Dock Park bandstand, which felt like a such a good opportunity to experience film together in an unexpected setting.”

Katie Anderson (Public Art Lead)

Conversing Building exhibitions in the café this year have included work from Access Art, Holywood Primary School and HMP Dumfries in collaboration with Alice Myers. 

Wild Goose Festival

The Wild Goose Festival returned, bigger and better as ever. The week-long festival weaves art, culture, and nature together through a series of activities from interactive storytelling, nature walks, conversations to performances and creative workshops for all the family. 

“Wild Goose Festival welcomed 3000 visitors across 35 events at multiple venues throughout Dumfries and Galloway. The festival is co-designed and delivered in partnership with over 20 local and regional organisations, and is a platform to explore nature, creativity and place through celebrating the inspirational migration of 6 species of geese into D&G each year.”

Graham Rooney (General Manager & WGF Project Lead)

“My standout moment of last year was the successful launch of the Wild Goose Festival website. It was months of planning, collaboration, geese, and hard work. I’m very proud of what we achieved.”

Robbie Henderson (IT Coordinator)

Solway to Svalbard, an immersive, multi-artform response to the spring migration or barnacle geese launched in 2022. Created by composer Stuart Macphearson, filmmaker Emma Dove and sound recordist Pete Smith, this unique piece of theatre brought together original music with cinematic visuals, evocative soundscapes, and live storytelling.

You can visit the Wild Goose Festival here.


The Stove Network and Stranraer Development Trust (SDT) partnered with Dandelion, to create the Unexpected Garden at Burns House in Stranraer. Led locally by, Emerging Creative Producer, Bethany Piggott who worked with both the partners and community to deliver the project.

Stove Orchestrator Matt Baker shared the following thoughts about what was happening in Stranraer last year,

“The Stove project that gave me the shivers this year was the Harvest Festival in the Unexpected Garden in Stranraer, it had all the classic ingredients to transform a place into something exciting and gathering people from all walks of life to come together and celebrate their community and their love of their town.”

Matt Baker (Orchestrator)

Read more about Dandelion here.

Creative Spaces

Fuelled by experimentation and play, Creative Spaces is predominantly about working collaboratively to engage, inspire, provoke and provide both experiences and opportunities for young people in Dumfries & Galloway. 

Creative Spacer Producer Mia shared the following about the 22/23 Creative Spaces achievments: 

“If there’s one thing this years Creative Spaces team did with bells on, it was engagement. From Dundee to Stranraer, Wester Hailes to Caerlaverock, the team have engaged with a plethora of community groups, organisations, charities and people in order to build a larger picture of what the creative industries looks like in not only D&G but the whole of Scotland and to inspire wins from other places here in Dumfries. The associates have engaged with young people from across the region championing the creative industries whilst also engaging with our board and membership to inform proactive change internally from the perspective of young creatives.”

Mia Osborne (Creative Spaces and Community Events Producer)

You can read more about Creative Spaces HERE

It’s true that ‘the people make the place’, particularly when talking about the team here at The Stove. Working with such a talented and dedicated team is a joy, and I cant wait to see what we achieve together over 2023.

Kevin Stewart (Head of Communication & Engagement)

Looking forward…

You can find out more about each of our ongoing projects here, and you can look at the the work we have completed over previous years in our archive here.

We have events at the Stove all year round! You can check out our current event programme here.

News Project Updates

Creative Stranraer

Thursday 13th April saw the opening of Creative Stranraer on the corner of George Street and King Street in the centre of the town.

The space is a former shop unit that has been renovated by owner Mr Gillespie to achieve the vision of creatives in the town coordinated by Arts and Engagement Officer Janet Jones.

The opening night was a joyously happy occasion attended by a mixture of people from the creative sector, those involved in regeneration initiatives and the curious/willing.

There were speeches, music from Stacey Joy and family and charcoal drawing with the hub’s first artist-in-residence Jane Fraser.

Creative Stranraer will host artist gatherings, workshops, events, exhibitions and become an HQ for information and exchange on all things creative that are going in in the town.

Creative Stranraer is imagined as a prototype hub that will lead into the much-anticipated redevelopment of the former George Hotel as a new cultural and community space for the town and surrounding area.

The whole Arts and Engagement project is woven into the George redevelopment initiative, to create momentum and organisation in the local creative sector prior to the George opening, it has been managed by Stranraer Development Trust (SDT) with funding from DG Council.

The Stove is commissioned by SDT to support the Arts and Engagement Officer and provide guidance and direction from our experience in Creative Placemaking regionally and nationally.

The Arts and Engagement project began in June 2022 and has been shaped around three strands of activity:

  1. Community Engagement and Co-Creation – Janet has convened a highly successful and ongoing series community gatherings called ‘Vision and Action’ meetings with attendances typically 50+ local folk coming together to share ideas, hear about progress and for local businesses/projects to showcase what they are doing. Janet has also held a number of dedicated creative meetings for different groups within the cultural and creative sector locally.
  2. Public Art Projects – to date the most highly visible public art project has been the mural on the Creative Stranraer hub building by artist Tragic O’Hara. Tragic has also undertaken workshops with local groups of young people and is now working with the Stair Park Skate Park group. Another public art initiative is the photo and poetry wall next to Gateway to Galloway at the harbour. In the pipeline is a planned Street Art festival for 2024 and numerous other small-scale projects bringing together local creative practitioners in partnership with businesses and community groups.
  3. The Creative Hub – now open at the top of King Street!

All of the above activity is designed around the principle of the creative sector taking a lead in the regeneration of Stranraer by injecting some energy, vibrancy, sound and colour into the town and in the process inspiring and bringing people together and also creating opportunities for people to express their own creativity and support people to embark on creative careers in the local area.

The Arts and Engagement project has also been working in alongside the creation of the ‘community place plan’ for the town.

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