About: The Stove Network

The Stove Network is one of the leading socially-engaged arts organisations in Scotland. As the first artist-run Community Development Trust in the UK, our innovative artist-led network model and inclusive artistic approach engages the community, policy makers and creatives within the Dumfries and Galloway region to deliver nationally and internationally significant socially engaged practice. From our purpose-developed hub at 100 High Street in the centre of Dumfries, we are a catalyst for democratic social progress. We seek to engage with the widest possible audience on issues relevant to their lives and through this we aim to have a lasting effect on our place and communities.

Since The Stove Network moved into 100 High Street in 2015 we have experienced rapid development and growth both of the network itself and our range of activities. During this time we have received core support from Creative Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Holywood Trust and the Network for Social Change, amongst others. This investment has allowed us to experiment, evaluate and establish ourselves as the key cultural organisation within the region. Much of this success is built on the partnerships we have developed through our creative practice, which reach across diverse sectors. We have become particularly adept at integrating creative practice and methodologies at a strategic level, for example within policymaking and planning, through innovative partnership working with other groups and agencies. This has had the added benefit of enabling us to diversify our funding base which now draws support from three main areas: arts, community development and social impact.

These core areas, which are the nexus of The Stove Network’s activities, are also reflective of the political and policy reality of what might be called the ‘Era of Community Empowerment’, where increasing pressure on public services and funding has encouraged a rethinking of what might be termed ‘civil society’ and the necessity to encourage communities and diverse agencies to take greater ownership of their lives, places and prospects. With recognition such as 2016 Surf Award for Creative Regeneration, The Stove Network is acknowledged as a national leader in the practice of using arts and creativity to involve and engage communities in shaping their own futures. Through our programmes of work to date, and that outlined here, we seek to continue our transformational impact on our community, and also grow our region’s creative/cultural sector, and develop the skills of young people and emerging artists.

Our Key Achievements Over the Last Three Years

Strategic Working/Impact:

  • Scottish Regeneration (SURF) Award for Creative Regeneration 2016.
  • Increase in annual turnover to in excess of £310,000, with a projection for increase to £600,000 by 2019.
  • In the last year we have delivered at least 3 public events per week with more than 2,900 people directly participating in creating projects (up 1,100 since previous year) and total audience figures over 9,000 (up 2,500 from previous year). Over 150 groups/organisations collaborated on projects.
  • We have attracted over £1,218,713 in support since The Stove Network began in 2011.
  • In 2016-17 we have offered opportunities for the creative community valued at £130,496 (up from £58,699 in 2015-16).
  • £1m fund created by Dumfries and Galloway Council for Town Centre Living, largely due to The Stove Network’s influence and advocacy with the ‘Living on the High Street’ (also known as Midsteeple Quarter) initiative.
  • The Stove Network led a consortium of organisations to reach the final three of Creative Scotland’s ‘Creative Places’ Awards 2014.

Skills and Sector Development:

  • The Stove Network having 22 contracted staff and freelancers – 16 of whom are under age of 27.
  • Three new arts organisations have grown under The Stove Network, are based at 100 High Street and deliver programming for The Stove Network: EAFS (Environmental Art Festival Scotland), DMC (Dumfries Music Conference), and D-Lux (Festival of Lighting in Dumfries).
  • Four members of Blueprint100, a creative group for young people under 30 years of age based at The Stove Network, have gained places in Higher Education to pursue creative careers; a further four members have become self-employed creatives in the region.

Engagement and Enterprise:

  • Growth of network to 400 members.
  • Developed a trading arm to bring management of the Café in-house. This is proving a huge success and projected turnover for the next 12 months is £115,000.
  • Significant increase in requests for event collaboration and hosting – we are now the ‘go to’ place to engage with the public in the town centre.

Projects and Partnership Working:

  • Leading a community partnership towards the major redevelopment of a key location in the High Street – the Midsteeple Quarter – which has resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the West of Scotland and NHS Dumfries and Galloway, and support from Scottish Government and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
  • Creative Futures: Lincluden and Lochside project – 4 Year Big Lottery Funded TSN ‘outpost’ in housing estates including mentorship, 3.5 year full time post and skills development programme.
  • Partner in two academic bids: Newcastle University (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and Trento University (EU Horizon 2020).
  • Ongoing partnerships with two international arts organisations: Vestfold Kunstsenter (Tonsberg, Norway) and BRG Collective (Braga, Portugal).
  • Partnership with Cryptic  including the development of Cryptic Nights to be delivered in Dumfries.
  • Continued productive partnership working with regional organisations e.g. Wigtown Festival Company, Upland, DG Arts Festival, Big Burns Supper, CatStrand.
  • The Stove Network is now a member of: Development Trust Association Scotland, Loreburn Community Council, Scotland’s Town Partnership, Artworks Alliance, Green Arts Initiative, Nourish, DG Unlimited: Regional Arts Hub and Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum.
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