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Sahar El-Hady: Creative Spaces Reflection

We asked our Creative Spaces 23/24 Alumni to reflect on their experience completing the programme. Lastly we have Sahar El-Hady, read about her experiences as a spacer below.

Sahar El-Hady singing at the Creative Spaces Showcase 2024
Sahar speaking at the 2024 Creative Spaces Showcase

Having made my home in Dumfries in 2021, just as in-person events were beginning to bounce back after the pandemic, I was very quickly introduced to The Stove Network by my new friends and became a keen supporter of their activities. It was a pleasant surprise to find young people and vibrant community events in such a rurally dispersed region, and the connections I made through this engagement made me feel immediately at home in what was then a very new environment for me. I began to see a future for myself here and am lucky enough to have found the means and networks to be able to stay.

Sahar at Creative Spaces event Draw Me Like One of your Dumfries Girls
Sahar at Creative Spaces Event – Draw Me Like One of your Dumfries Girls

After attending last year’s Creative Spaces Showcase, a friend encouraged me to apply for the Associates programme. I was inspired by Jodie Barnacle-Best’s talk about her “wiggly life path” and saw in it similarities to my own trajectory, having graduated with a master’s in Science to then start work in the creative industries. I thought, why not do this for 10 months while I’m working part-time, put these questions about my career direction to rest once and for all, and then get a proper full-time job which uses my degree after it’s done?

Looking back now, I can only laugh at the thought of me being happy in a 9-5, five day week job without creativity or change for the rest of my life. In fact, I now relish the openness of my freelance days more than I could have imagined when I started Creative Spaces. Not only has repeated exposure to a large number of full-time artists across the region dispelled the stigma around “unreliable income” and the myth of “the struggling artist”, I’ve also made leaps and bounds in accepting my own creative ambitions and surrounding myself with the people and support who will help me to pursue my dreams – who I’ll surely need to lean on all the more now that I’ve hit the ground running.

As well as providing a great group of new friends, and multiple paid opportunities to use your creativity, the structure and support of Creative Spaces was just what I needed at this point in my life. Monthly mentoring meetings with the experienced and kind-hearted DJ McDowell, absorption into the non-hierarchical and multi-talented Stove Team, and dedicating two days a week to freelance creative projects until it becomes habit, all have nurtured my creative practice from a tiny seedling hiding under a rock to a sunflower in bloom.

I’ve always been someone who doesn’t know what they want but has a growing list of things they don’t want to be or do. Now, thanks to Creative Spaces, I am (at the advanced age of 26) firmly on the path towards what I want to do, due to the simple yet priceless resource of being given the time and encouragement to think about it. For this, I will always have the amazing Stove Team to thank, so huge love and gratitude to each and every one of you – I promise you’ll not be getting rid of me or my Pam au Latte café order anytime soon!

Written by Sahar El-Hady

Situated in the heart of Dumfries, Creative Spaces collaborates with young creatives from across the region, providing young people with opportunities to engage in the arts. Whether it’s through events, workshops, mentorships, or our annual Associates Programme, we aim to enhance Dumfries and Galloway’s creative scene by offering free access to opportunities and paid commissions.

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