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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.