Categories
Blueprint100 Music Research

Looking Forward / Looking Backward

By Hayley Watson.

It’s September already, and I’m still trying to pare away the feeling that this month is a fresh start – a miniature new year, though distinguished by routine, structure and peeled-from-the-packet stationery rather than Big Ben’s chimes, Auld Lang Syne and kisses. The thing is though, a year and a half out of education I’ve still ended up synchronising my ‘fresh starts’ with the end of summer. I’m not sure if this is by accident or coincidence (or, if you want to get philosophical, whether or not there’s even a difference). This time last year I’d just moved to Italy, and this year I’m in the process of moving back to Glasgow, which is a phrase I think I’ve said about a thousand times since I came back to Annan.

The recurring element of how my last five summers have ended, no matter what my plans have been, is suitcases I’ve stuffed my life into and usually an obligatory Ikea trip. The suitcase zippers burst a little along the edges, and anticipatory, so do I. This time around feels like it should be the same but I’m not so sure. Italy felt like an adventure, easy to romanticize. Working for shit pay and hopping from flat-to-flat takes a while to get old when there’s late summer heat and vino-tinto-tinted streets to meet you every time you finish a shift. And the last time I lived in Glasgow, I was a student – I don’t need to expand on why that combination worked.

Beginning my latest move to Glasgow comes in tandem with the end of my contract as blueprint100’s Associate Artist supporting its re-development. Working with blueprint100 this year, after my first experiences shaping its early structure and with four extra years of life behind me, has offered an opportunity to consider the continual motions of change we experience in early adulthood and how organisational support and belonging to a community can make it all feel a little bit more… easy. When I first started working with blueprint100 I was a teenager who’d just realised creative careers are possible, and now I’m an adult (I guess?) who’s a bit overwhelmed by just how many different ways there are to pursue creativity professionally.

A huge part of my role over the past few months has been consulting past blueprint100 participants on their experience and their professional and creative needs. Reflecting on how my own professional practice continues to evolve has been really interesting alongside speaking with other young adults going through the same process – I think we’re all very excited and very ready to take on creative careers, whether full-time or freelance or whatever else (the beauty of creative work is how flexible it can be). At the same time, we’re now living through a pandemic. One excited hand locks fingers with a frustrated/confused/kind of scared one. It’s been comforting for me to understand how similar our feelings and our needs are at this stage of our lives, and this has reaffirmed how important it is – at any stage of life, but especially during the ‘uncertain’ ones – to feel like you’ve got a community behind you.

Community, then, has been a core theme that needs to be considered as part of blueprint100’s identity following our re-development this year. As blueprint100 moves forward, its membership will be re-integrated into The Stove, as it was in its very early days. As part of The Stove, we’ll be centred on creative opportunities that are community-focussed – in alignment with The Stove’s own mission. I started writing this not wanting to mention the pandemic at all (I’ve already failed) but after 2020 I really do think isolation of any kind is the last thing any of us want – including in our creative practices. For a lot of the people I spoke to, myself included, it was blueprint100 & The Stove which introduced us to working creatively in a way that might just possibly make this region feel like the exciting place you want it to be. For a lot of us again, this is something that continues to direct our creative practices. It’s an approach that’s fresh and unique when you’ve previously only experienced creative opportunities which focus exclusively on yourself and the development of your skills as an individual.

Alongside community-focused practice, the future of blueprint100 is one of building an inclusive and accessible creative community. If you’ve spoken with me at all since June when I started the initial consultations, I’ll probably have mentioned ‘accessibility’ and ‘inclusivity’ so much its borderline annoying. I’m pretty sure the words are even on my CV. That’s fine though. I believe, especially where the arts are concerned, accessibility and inclusivity can’t be taken into account enough. Throwing yourself into creative spaces when you’re not even totally sure of your identity as a creative practitioner yet is hard! And there are barriers as well to even claiming this identity alone – if you’re working in a bar 5 days a week, tired when you’re not working, and the total amount of time you can dedicate to even thinking creatively amounts to like, maybe an hour here and there, it’s difficult to feel as though you’ve got any sort of creative identity at all.

By establishing a community of young creatives in the region – whether online or eventually in the real world – we can learn that actually, wherever we’re at right now is fine, and its normal. This doesn’t mean we all need to be in the same positions, but rather that we can see creative careers don’t tend to happen in a smooth, linear, get-a-degree-then-do-a-grad-scheme way. Accessibility and inclusivity within this community should go beyond just being buzzwords. It’s making sure people feel able to speak up and even interrogate its structure without possessing 4 years’ worth of art school language. It’s shaping the opportunities within it to suit its members, rather than the reverse. It’s creating access to the space and tech to get work done because maybe you can’t get a quiet space at home. It’s knowing that maybe you can’t swap shifts to get involved with something, but people get it, and other opportunities will still be there whenever you are. No judgment.

Something I’ve gained from re-evaluating blueprint100’s role in its participants creative and professional development is a better acceptance of my own. I mentioned earlier the vast means through which you can pursue a creative practice, and as much as I said this can be overwhelming it’s also been quite reassuring. Being able to work creatively full-time in the early stages of your practice is a position of privilege, or very good luck. As with many other positions of privilege, not possessing it can have some kind of weird stigma attached. I studied Fashion Design at uni, and felt guilty every summer that I chose not to try and get an unpaid London internship. In the first months after graduating I felt guilty for not applying to graduate jobs that would cover my commute costs and little else. Since then I’ve learned that honestly? I love fashion, but I love being able to eat and pay my bills even more. Van Gogh gets touted as an icon of ‘starving artist’-hood but its reductive to think his work would be any less beautiful if he didn’t have the struggles of simply surviving to deal with. Poverty is only poetic to people who’ve not experienced it.

I guess what I’m getting at with that paragraph is that actually, working full-time in a factory and part-time in a creative role has actually been pretty good. Tiring, but good. It’s totally possible to continue the trajectory of your career while earning enough to live, and day jobs really aren’t as bad as you’re led to believe when you’re still maintaining some sort of constructive creative practice. I originally wasn’t going to move back to Glasgow until I had like… my absolute dream first graduate job. I’ve since decided that it’s equally completely cool to take a 50/50 approach to building my career instead – I’m going to be working part-time in clothing manufacture again, and spend the rest of my time working creatively on a freelance basis. It’s pretty exciting, a little like dropping everything to move to the city and become an artist but with the added security of actually having a predictable income every month.

I seem to have a talent for taking these blog posts a lot further than they’re probably intended to go (blame lockdown and reduced opportunities for rambling to people in real life). If you need a tl;dr for this – blueprint100 has developed, grown, and changed in the past few months at a faster pace than it ever has before. I have too.

Categories
Musings News Research

Response to the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee on the current Covid-19 crisis on our sectors

This is The Stove’s response to the call-out from the Cross-party Committee on Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs on the impact of covid-19 to Scotlands Culture and Tourism sectors and how our sector should be supported at this time.

We see it as part of our role in the region to advocate for those working in the creative sector in D+G but there is strength in numbers so we strongly encourage others to send in responses so that as many voices can be heard as possible – link here

photo credit Kirstin McEwan

Response submitted on the 17.8.2020

This response comes from our experience as a community focused organisation in the High Street of Dumfries, ongoing discussion with the freelance creative community of Dumfries and Galloway, the small groups and businesses we work with and as many of the national discussions and emerging reports we can sanely be part of.

Q – how best the industry can be supported during this unprecedented time.

We need urgent support for the freelance creative economy in Dumfries and Galloway in the form of a) paid work opportunities for freelancers, b) support for local arts infrastructure to effectively support freelancers and c) support for a network that can learn and share learning from this activity.

This paper develops a series of proposals for support and a long term vision through an understanding of the cultural sector that has been brought into sharp focus by COVID.

NEEDS

  • We need devolved local delivery of support that takes into account the monumental variety of work and structures that produce and deliver it within our sector at a grassroots level
  • We need a long-term VISION that embraces innovations in how we value cultural and creative work – wider social benefit, place-based initiatives and community wealth building, localised power and delivery
  • We need to talk about what we have missed, not just what we have done, and be clear on who has not been heard or supported
  • We need to be honest about the “real” long-term impact of support, who will not benefit and why. We need to share and recycle ALL support given – if we invest into spaces/buildings/large institutions for example, how can they then pay that forward to others in the sector and their surrounding community through resource, space, knowledge sharing, local expertise and procurement and be held accountable to that?
  • Fundamentally we need a grassroots and sector-led approach led by the people who make creative work and the local communities it should benefit and be a part of

OUR FOCUS IN DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY

Our building and community is a non-residential and transient community. At the very start of lockdown it became clear that others were better placed than us to provide the type of community care roles that we have seen a lot of creative place-based groups and organisations take in the field creative community-led work we operate in.

Our focus became the immediate and devastating impact on our local community of creative freelancers who are the pillars that hold up the region’s creative sector – small creative businesses, local projects, independent festivals and events across SW Scotland. The freelancers in our community do not have a platform in national conversations on arts, culture and their economic impact and value, advocating for them as well as providing work opportunities and networking support became our way to act.

We have been approaching this twofold – by taking part in as many of those local, regional and national conversations as we have capacity for and actively working with our membership and creative community so that the grassroots of the sector can be as loud and visible as possible in shaping how we move forward.

For our small acts of solidarity and creativity see our Homegrown Blog

Atlas Pandemica is a new project, like Homegrown, specifically developed in response to COVID, it commissions artists to gather and react to stories of the pandemic’s impact on often unheard voices in our communities and develop creative visioning for going forward into a more socially inclusive future.

It is this grassroots workforce in creative and cultural activity alongside local groups and organisations that we have seen as key collaborators and indicators of the resilience and innovation by local folk and communities.

Our long-term, strategic aim here is to support a regional network of Creative Placemaking activity that helps build and sustain a robust creative workforce whilst responding to real need at local community level.

GRASSROOTS CULTURE

The creative and cultural sector that is embedded in communities is under-represented across our national agencies and as such also lacking in engagement and relative collection of data in terms of their wider economic impact for our places and communities.

The Stove’s recent Embers report, April 2020, highlighted the necessity of supporting community-led, localised action and the lack of understanding of the value of this work to healthy economies. The grants for self-employed creatives were welcome but they do little to consider and understand the expense needed to continue to work as a freelance worker in our industry (support for three months of living/work expenses in Scotland coming out lower than the UK average of £2900, under £1000 a month) SEISS Statistics.

” Performers and other creative practitioners like me earn on average £10k a year and do not fit within the Chancellor’s characterisation of those left out of the SEISS. It is claimed that those who are excluded represent just 5% of the self-employed workforce, earning on average £200k – this is very clearly not the experience of the more than 40% of Equity members who have not been able get support so far.”Equity letter to Government

Excluded UK estimates that 3 million freelancers across sectors have been excluded from any support.

This needs to be courageously recognised so that it can be addressed in the plans we now take forward. Through our experience this includes, but is not limited to, the following groups and activities in cultural and creative industries:

  • Voluntary
  • Community-led
  • Freelancers
  • Young emerging and those not registered as self-employed
  • Vulnerable groups and minorities
  • Informal learning programmes and groups
  • Independent festivals and events

“Creative workers–one of the more vulnerable sectors of the workforce–are already seeing devastating impacts on their income, not only in turnover terms, but also in their charitable contributions and sponsorships. Leaving behind the more fragile part of the sector could cause irreparable socio-economic damage.” – p5 Oxford Economics Report – The projected economic impact of cvoid-19 on the UK Creative Industries 15.6.2020

Our ideas around this add to the pool of information, research and experience coming from creative freelancers across the globe, community groups and workers, academics, think tanks etc. to justify a more holistic and creative approach to economic recovery that makes use of our community groups and organisations (Community Wealth Building, Carnegie Trust on Wellbeing, Wellbeing Economy, Anchor Organisations). We need the investment to start making it happen and the courage to do it in a localised, place-based way.

Through our work at The Stove we have seen the impact that can be had when the ground is made fertile and people are given the agency to develop and grow things locally.

A CULTURE COLLECTIVE

We see an opportunity to devolve resource and power to local people by supporting creative freelancers and groups and organisations that are already working as part of their communities to develop locally responsive projects that can also take advantage of cross sector opportunity for long-term benefit.

What if we were to pay out of work people in the Creative and Community sectors a fair wage to work in their local communities to start new projects (or build on things started in lockdown) – these could be cultural projects like choirs, writer’s groups etc. but they could also be environmental projects or new social enterprises. Our skill set is to ‘make shit happen’, we are producers, innovators and entrepreneurs! If this National Task Force was to get things started then the national agencies and funders could come in behind and help take things to the next level and, before you know it you have communities making their places, economies and health better.

The premise is simple – our Embers report has clearly shown the pivotal role played by creative practitioners and small creative organisations to initiate and maintain momentum in placemaking projects. These may start with cultural projects, but quickly develop into new social enterprises, asset-based and environmental initiatives. In short – do some cultural pump-priming in a community setting and the payback in terms of community resilience, economic development and people’s wellbeing is incredible.

This idea is based on power of community and cross-sector collaboration and respondent to the Guiding Principles from the Report by the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery – p12. More on the development of this can be found on The Stove Blog here

A LONG TERM VISION

We believe support needs to align towards a clear VISION that can be shaped by the changing needs of the sector and is representative of the wide variety of work this includes – notably the less heard voices of creative freelancers, voluntary and community-led groups and organisations. It needs to be local, be a collaboration between the sector and our communities and feed the local innovation that is already there.

Carnegie Trust UK’s recently published (1st July 2020) “Conversations with Communities” initial findings state it brilliantly

“The COVID-19 emergency has let us see what only the state can do – set up hospitals; fund research into a vaccine; shift resources to the front line – and what only communities can do – mobilise and respond quickly by building on existing relationships; pool collective resources; think creatively about what assets are available.”

While the Government is able to float ideas for action, these can only become a reality through collaboration with the arts and creative sector. For example, the idea of a National Arts Force needs all of us in culture to come together and work with other bodies to shape a plan that can make this happen…only we the creative practitioners on the ground know how this could work…we must take our place at the discussion table for the sake of everyone who works in our sector and for society at large.” – https://thestove.org/creativity-and-community-as-part-of-the-national-recovery/

We have the knowledge, we have the tools, we have the live projects that are working and the historical examples of what activities and investments are impactful in a deeper, wider sense of economic resilience and wellbeing, now is the time to stop pitching our systems to big business and outdated ideas of ‘growth’ as a measure of societal success.

Categories
Musings News Research

Creativity and Community as Part of the National Recovery

The diagram below is The Stove’s submission to The Advisory Group for Economic Recovery for Scotland. It is just the first germ of an idea and we are sharing it now in the hope of generating further discussion with others in the Creative and Community sectors.

Download a full-size version of the diagram here

The premise is simple – our Embers report has clearly shown the pivotal role played by creative practitioners and small creative organisations to initiate and maintain momentum in placemaking projects. These may start with cultural projects, but quickly develop into new social enterprises, asset-based and environmental initiatives. In short – do some cultural pump-priming in a community setting and the payback in terms of community resilience, economic development and people’s wellbeing is incredible.
In the current climate we have thousands of creative practitioners with little prospect of working in the short and medium term. We have communities who have experienced working together for mutual benefit during lockdown and we have many brilliant resources (theatres, sports centres etc) that are lying temporarily idle.
What if we were to pay out of work people in the Creative and Community sectors a Basic Income to work in their local communities to start new projects (or build on things started in lockdown) – these could be cultural projects like choirs, writers groups…but they could also be environmental projects or new social enterprises. Our skill set is to ‘make shit happen’ we are producers, innovators and entrepreneurs! If this National Task Force was to get things started then the national agencies and funders could come in behind and help take things to the next level and, before you know it you have communities making their places, economies and health better.
It may sound mad, but something not so very different was successful in the US as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1934 and again in 1940 in Britain with the Council for Encouragement of Arts and Music which saw a force of musicians staring choirs and orchestras all over the country during wartime.
That’s as far as we’ve got til now – whaddyfink? Let us know and help us shape the idea if you think it has legs..

Categories
News Research

Creative Placemaking – a local phenomena in the South of Scotland

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Lucy MacLeod, Creative Director for Outpost Arts, Langholm

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

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

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

Categories
Musings Research

Dumfries Fountain – History and Future?

Kirsten McClure Rowe has recently been in touch with the Stove as she has recently been researching into the history of Dumfries’ fountain, with the aim of hosting a crowdfunding campaign to restore the fountain to it’s former glory. Her proposal includes stripping back the layers of old peeling paint and professionally restoring it to it’s original colours which were gold and bronze with cactus painted to appear real.

The following is some of Kirsten’s research into the history, and potential future for the Dumfries Fountain:

‘On the 5th of December 1882, Provost Lennox unveiled the fountain which stands on Dumfries High Street. It was made by the Sun Foundry, Alloa and is one of only two models of its type known anywhere in the world. The fountain commemorates the supply of public drinking water to the town from nearby Lochrutton.

The first pipe of the waterworks was laid on 16th January 1851 after many years of wrangling by various committees in Dumfries and Maxwelltown. Many felt that the pipeline wasn’t necessary and that the half a dozen or so seepage wells, which supplied some of the water and the bulk of the supply taken by the “burn drawers” in their dirty wheeled barrels from just below the main sewerage outlet in the Nith and sold at a penny a bucket, were sufficient.

Original Fountain circa 1870
Original Fountain circa 1870

In September 1832, Cholera struck Dumfries. A total of 841 people contracted the disease and 421 died within Dumfries, with a further 237 becoming ill in Maxwelltown of which 127 died. A mass grave at St Michaels churchyard bears a memorial to 420 souls. Unofficial figures state that as many as 700 coffins were produced in the 3-month period of epidemic which ended on 27th November 1832.

“In 1848 cholera struck again. The infant Scottish Board of Health, with little real power, sent Dr John Sutherland from Glasgow, a man of strong personality. He found corpses lying in the streets and no action being taken at all. He got a medical board organised, a house cleansing programme under way and immediately tracked the cause to the water supply and cleared up the epidemic, but not before 431 people had died out of 814 cases.”

Colours of the Fountain in 2004
Colours of the Fountain in 2004

As early as 1765 there had been proposals to introduce a clean gravitation water supply into the town, however it took until 10th May 1850 for a Committee of the House to give a unanimous verdict in favour of the promoters. As it was chiefly working-class areas that suffered in the first cholera epidemic, it was suggested that intemperance and lack of religious faith had led to this divine punishment of the poor. It was only after the middle-class residents of Dumfries and Maxwelltown began to fall ill, that any real action was taken.

A newspaper article from 22nd October 1851 reports the “Record of Public Introduction of Water to Sister Burghs of Dumfries and Maxwelltown” “This boon has been secured after a severe and protracted struggle against the ignorance, apathy, prejudice and selfishness, which formed a strong anti-sanitary battalion that was, with difficulty, beaten from the field” “When the news arrived in Dumfries next day, the bells were rung and bonfires kindled in token of the general joy”

Early 1900s
Early 1900s

“The 21st October 1851 was chosen to introduce water from Lochrutton. Midsteeple bells rang, music from the Annan band played and flags flown”. “A fountain was erected between the Kings Arms and Commercial Hotels being the principle place of resort for the congregated crowds” “This structure, formed of fire clay is in a Roman style of art with Grecian ornaments and is very handsome”

The opening ceremony was performed by Provost Nicholson and was not without incident. When the Provost turned the valve, water shot into the air and descended to soak the assembled citizens!

This fountain was only ever intended to be a temporary fixture and was moved to Nithbank Hospital when our current fountain was unveiled 30 years later.

The fountain is no longer at Nithbank and further investigation is needed to uncover its current whereabouts.

Original fountain sited in Nithbank
Original fountain sited in Nithbank

The district council funded the purchase of the new fountain from the Sun Foundry, while donations from the townspeople of Dumfries paid for its decoration. A total of £191.0s 6d from 221 subscribers was raised. The fountain was a glorious sight to behold and the townsfolk crowded onto the High Street to witness the unveiling. The Dumfries and Galloway Standard dated 6th December 1882 describes the fountain in vivid detail.

Brilliant painted photo showing original colours
Brilliant painted photo showing original colours

“The boys, the dolphins and the storks are entirely gilded and look to be figures in massive gold. The ground of the fountain is bronzed with some of its conventional details displayed in gold. On four pedestals in the freestone basin are placed as many iron vases holding each a large iron cactus, coloured so cleverly after nature, that many who saw them thought they must be real.” – where are these cacti filled vases now?

Boys at the Fountain 1900
Boys at the Fountain 1900

In an amazing coincidence, the town of Kandy in Sri Lanka has an identical twin fountain! The inscribed dedication on the fountain reads “Erected by the Coffee Planters of Ceylon in Commemoration of the visit of Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales (1841-1910) to Kandy December 1875.” The Prince of Wales was the eldest son of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) who succeeded his mother as King Edward VII (1901-10). It was recently renovated and ceremonially bequeathed to the public of Kandy in June 2013.

Prince of Wales Fountain in Kandy, Sri Lanka
Prince of Wales Fountain in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Our fountain is a hugely important part of our social history. It marks a turning point for our ancestors, the people of Dumfries. It currently stands in a very sorry state with peeling paint and green algae. This once celebrated jewel of Dumfries town centre needs our help. Sadly, due to budget cuts, the maintenance of the fountain has not been a priority for the local council. Therefore, it falls to us to rescue it and bring it back to life.’

Sad fountain
Categories
Opportunities Research

Art_Inbetween – A Commission Opportunity from The Stove

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A commission for an artist to work within a larger project exploring practical connections and exchanging knowledge between people working creatively within rural regions across Britain. This is an opportunity for artists interested in: art and activism….art and society….grassroots and big picture….aesthetics as a manifestation of ethics…rurality

Art_Inbetween recognises that the scale of communities in rural areas necessitates that art practice works across the full spectrum of society. As such, many rural areas are leading the way in socially-engaged practice that is making a significant difference to the way people live and the places that they inhabit.

At the end of February The Stove Network will host a  Summit that brings together rurally based art practices. This summit will be the starting point for the artist commission. Following the summit the commissioned artist will be expected to follow their own line of interest inspired by Art_Inbetween…for example:

  • Exploring the microcontexts of the different rural regions taking part in Art_Inbetween
  • Mapping art practices and interrelationships
  • A creative visualisation of contemporary rural art practice

There is no specific geographic base for the art commission, but the project will be managed by The Stove Network in Dumfries and the other practice teams taking part in Art_Inbetween (Northumberland, Scottish Highlands and South Wales) will be available as a research resource. It will be up to the artists to be self-directed and resourceful in navigating their way through this commission.

We are open to applications from all different artforms and teams as well as individuals.

Application

  • Expression of interest + examples of relevant past work (to be emailed in common digital format not exceeding 10 MB)
  • Submission of application to info@thestove.org by 5pm on 3rd Feb 2016
  • Interviews in week of 7th Feb in Dumfries
  • Applicants must be available to be in Dumfries for the Art_Inbetween Summit on 25th and 26th February 2016

Timeframe and Budget

  • Commission to be completed by end of April 2016
  • Fee (to include all materials and expenses) £1750
  • Additional budget for documentation/presentation £300
Categories
Events Projects Research

Lateral North and the Norway Connection

You are invited to share ideas and contribute to our Cultural Wayfinding event on 5th – 7th November with Lateral North and The Stove Network.

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Town Centers are a hot topic throughout Scotland at the moment and how people might once again populate them. Initiatives have been established by the Scottish government and partnership organisations with the likes of Scotland Can Do Towns and Scottish Towns Partnership leading the way and working with communities throughout Scotland. Discussions, conferences, ideas and innovative project proposals are increasing as we try to connect communities to their local shops and town centers.

Dumfries is one such place taking an extremely innovative approach where art and design takes centre stage to provide innovative solutions for their town centre. Arts resource, The Stove Network, have been working on a variety of projects to regenerate the town centre, residing in one such building no longer in use and turning it into a hub of creative thinking and out of-the-box design.

The Stove Network have teamed up with Lateral North, an architecture, research and design collective based in Glasgow but with strong connections to Dumfries, to work on an exciting, dynamic and innovative project reflecting on the culture, heritage and built environment of Dumfries town centre which has been forgotten or is not particularly highlighted.

IMG_1516

Their Cultural Wayfinding project aims to establish a series of opportunities, which would not only increase tourism but also act as an economic catalyst for new jobs and opportunities for local people based around art and design showing how it can highlight the culture of this historic town.

The first of these initiatives aims to showcase Dumfries’ relationship with Norway and in particular the buildings which lie hidden within our town centre which once hosted the Norwegian army in exile and provided them with a space to hold meetings and gave them places to live throughout World War II.

Norway-House

Lateral North and The Stove Network will host a 3 day workshop between 5-7th of November where they invite the public along to contribute their ideas to a public art installation which will highlight the building used as Headquarters and Cultural Centre by Norwegians from 1940: Norway House at 8 Church Street. The building currently lies empty, and with extortionate retail rates probably will for some time to come, however, this project will highlight the creative opportunities which could happen within such a space allowing communities to bring tourists into their town centers and create economic activity through their existing built environment.

Graham Hogg of Lateral North who was brought up in Dumfries said “I’ve watched Dumfries town centre slowly lose more and more of its local shops with vacant shops popping up. It’s had a detremental effect on the town as a whole and I believe it is fantastic that Stove is leading this exciting project. To be part of it is a real honour and hopefully through the Norway House project we can create an exciting and innovative model which can be applied throughout Dumfries town centre in the future but also be adopted throughout the rest of Scotland.”

To attend the workshop please email Ellen at the Stove Network: ellen.mitchell.rbc@gmail.com

NB There are paid opportunities for Stove Network members to assist with the project on 5, 6 and 7th November. To find out more please contact katharine@thestove.org

Supported by:
cultwayfunderlogossmall

Categories
News Projects Research

Thinking Differently About Our Town

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Dumfries is a town at the gateway to Scotland. Famous for its relationship with Rabbie Burns, the town is the nodal point of the region (Dumfries and Galloway) and has a strong heritage past, and an even stronger cultural potential.

Cities, towns and villages throughout Scotland are reimagining their centres and what function they serve within their urban setting.

Inverness is creating different artworks along its River Ness ranging from simple signage installations through to engineered viewing platforms; Oban is reinventing its waterfront and becoming a hub for the Hebrides; Helmsdale has centred its village around arts and heritage with a wonderful cultural centre that is growing leaps and bounds; and even rural Scotland is getting involved in the act with initiatives such as the Scottish Scenic Routes, Spring Fling and the North Coast 500 aiming to reinvent the landscape that they find themselves within.

Dumfries has a similar ambition to reinvent, reimagine and reactivate its high street, its town centre and its entire region. The Stove Network working in collaboration with Lateral North and creative organisations throughout Dumfries would like to invite you to contribute your ideas for a future Dumfries and ultimately towards creating new ideas within the town to showcase the heritage, cultural, environmental, industrial and creative communities that thrive within Dumfries.

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Join us to design these interventions, contribute your ideas and find out about the Dumfries you don’t know; yet.
If you’re someone with a passion for the town of Dumfries, and a commitment to being part of its future, then join us for the Cultural Wayfinding Workshop on the 15th July at The Stove. Full information about the event can be found here.

Categories
Musings News Research

Reclaim The High Street – Sign Language

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It’s interesting how obsessions grow. A current obsession is for signs, hand-painted and home grown. We’ve been holding onto our sign-free frontage, The Stove as under new management and a growing, changing space in the town.

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The face of our high streets and high street signage has of course changed dramatically, with the introduction of mass-produced, nationwide branding and the loss of independant retailers bringing a change to the landscape and language of our streets.

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Even RS McColl’s had nice signs at one point! (Look closely)
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My Product Will Enrich Your Status In Life from Mobstr

Also popping up in our social media stream this week has been the phenomena of ‘ghost-signs‘: the remenants of old signs, shops, businesses and brands, gone and almost forgotten within our urban landscapes. At first thought we couldn’t place too many in the Dumfries-scape, but on closer inspection are starting to see them cropping up around town:

This one on Buccleuch Street, double layered signs? Anyone with any notions of what these signs may have been, or any other good sites around the town please get in touch!

Where are we going with this? That is of course, all to be revealed. Guid Nychburris Day is fast approaching, and over the next week the town will be gearing up for the annual festivites on the 20th of June.

We will be holding a hands-on sign-themed event and workshop during our first Saturday Drop-In, so drop by between 12 noon and 4pm on Guid Nychburris Day and get involved! It will be suitable for all ages and abilities and free to participate!

Keep an eye on our events calendar for more details here

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You Couldn’t Make It Up from KidAcne
Categories
Events News Research

HAME. 2nd-16th May 2015

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By Gerard McKeever
gerardmckeever.co.uk

It’s easy to forget just how extraordinarily important the places where we live are. They are our frame, our point of reference, a huge portion of the real detail of life. This capacity of the land to shape us takes on a special dimension when we have either lived somewhere for a very long time, or spent the early years of our life there. I was born in Upper Nithsdale and spent the best part of two decades in the area before leaving for the city. It is a familiar narrative: the draw of study, work and a faster pace of life. Yet as a creative person I am increasingly aware of the consequence of D&G in my thought processes, a language of place through which much of my work is communicated. Because of this, and because of a longstanding ambition to return to the region, Mark Lyken and Emma Dove’s recent Hame installation for The Stove Network resonated for me.

Perhaps one reasonable working definition of Art could be: a community talking to itself about itself. This was a fascinatingly literal instance of that process, with audio clips of people discussing their relationships contextualised against meditative imagery of the area. Seeing the places we know celebrated and examined in this fashion makes them more real and more vital. It is a process of validation through which both the bonds and the divides in our community are exposed. The installation made us question which voices were included and which were not – whose particular home was being offered a platform?

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On a formal level, the piece made use of the suggestive space of 100 High St., succeeding in creating a feeling of audience participation through its non-linear looseness. At the risk of straining the point, wandering around the multiple levels of the installation captured something of the jagged, contingent nature of our existence in place. If and when the piece is transposed into a linear production it will be no doubt engaging but very different, precisely calibrated as it was to radiate from the town centre. Lyken and Dove took us through a mixture of voices that spoke with the random authority of community. From recollections of a previous era to the impressions of youth, for two weeks the Stove became an open archive of shared experience. Just as ‘hame’ doesn’t quite mean the same as ‘home’ to me, all the little details and nuances of life in D&G have a particular shading. It was this odd quality of rootedness that the installation did so well to elaborate. Fortunately, Hame was also too stylish to fall into the tourist information or museum exhibit traps which a piece of its nature must face.

The Stove is a commendable effort to further invigorate a growing community of creative people in and around Dumfries, and in doing so contribute to the salvage of the town centre. As one of the many young locals living elsewhere but with half an eye on home, I find projects like this encouraging. Alongside the growing number of music festivals in the region, the successes of Spring Fling and other arts events, D&G seems to be building towards a creative critical mass, a blossoming that is being noticed on a national level. Perhaps we don’t need to look so far away after all, if we have these things at hame.

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Images © Colin Tennant