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International Women’s Day at The Stove 2019

This year we were approached by students Bella Green and Candy, to host a day of activity at the Stove to celebrate and acknowledge International Women’s Day. The theme for our event – Wake Up And Love More – was inspired by Kate Tempest’s Tunnel Vision, a song from her latest album Let Them Eat Chaos.

Our programme comprised of banner and placard making workshop, a two week display in the Stove café, an evening of discussion, food and performance and a film screening to close the day. Due to poor weather, we had to put on hold our plans to occupy the High Street, but instead created a warm and welcoming space in the Stove’s café.

Bella Green introducing the evening. Image credit: Kirstin McEwan

On the evening itself, we were joined by Women’s Aid for Nithsdale and the Stewartry, who were able to share with us some of their work in the region over the past 20 years and their current challenges. Performances included poetry and song, and even a short quiz compered by stovie Kirsty Turpie!

Smash the Patriarchy bunting!

Our film choice for the evening was teen drama Skate Kitchen, directed by Crystal Moselle and featuring the story of Camille and the all-girl New York City based skateboarding crew, Skate Kitchen.

All donations from the evening went to Women’s Aid.

Thank you to everyone who helped with the preparations for the event, our performers and speakers. All image credits: Kirstin McEwan

International Women’s Day at the Stove was part of our Conversing Building project, an on-going programme of events and displays in and around the Stove building sharing ideas and projects with wider communities. To find out more email [email protected].

Banners created during our open workshop

Local Democracy Event and The Stove’s AGM!

Last night we held our yearly AGM which was a typically animated and entertaining Stovie night! We began this year with a discussion for our members around local democracy. Scottish Government has begun a national conversation about the need for more decisions to be made at a local level and they are asking for ideas about ways to do this.There has been much community-led activity around the country of late, with much of it being informal and grass roots. The question we posed at The Stove last night was how could this genuine popular activity become part of the larger power structure of our country?

In particular, we focused on the role that “alternative peoples town halls” could play – by this we mean places like The Stove that are publicly accessible and full of life and energy; places where conversations about ideas, change and projects naturally happen and places that people know they can always bring ideas or find out what is happening. Members talked about their experiences connected with The Stove and how Stove projects, discussions and partnerships created a fertile ground for the local community to get involved with making their own place for the future.

Conversations included:

  • Keeping democracy visible using empty shops etc. as “alternative town halls”;
  • Cultural activity being a brilliant way of keeping democratic process accessible and relevant for communities;
  • Uniting people around specific projects for their community being the catalyst for involving people in local decision making.

Then the AGM itself was a warm and supportive affair with an atmosphere of positivity about the last year and the future. The final accounts and Chairs Report will be posted on the website in 2 weeks time when we get the final audited accounts back from the accountant at the beginning of December.

Read the Tresurer’s Report here: Treasurer’s Report


Blueberry Soup’s Red Cards

As part of our ongoing Reel to Real cinema series, on Thursday 21st of April, we hosted a screening of Blueberry Soup, a documentary exploring the constitutional change in Iceland following the 2008 financial crisis, and the re-invention of democracy through the rewriting of the nations constitution.


Following the film screening, there was a Q&A with the films director, Eileen Jerrett via Skype live from Seattle.


The red cards had become popular during recent protests in Iceland following the Panama Papers release, and caused Eileen to begin her #messagestoIceland, sending supportive messages to those still pushing for constitutional change in the country.


Reel to Real is our regular cinema series of issue based and topic films, followed by open discussions, workshops and food share events encouraging our audiences to engage more indepth with some of the themes and topics discussed in the films screened.


Art and Politics at Art_Inbetween

Following on from last weeks Art_Inbetween summit, and reposted from Sarah Beattie-Smith’s blog, (visit it here to read the full report), some reflections from her attending the first day of Art_Inbetween:

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” “Don’t think of art and politics as separate parts of your life – you can do both”. These were the simple words of Katharine from The Stove in Dumfries that, in a few seconds, managed to make disparate bits of my life make sense. Our conversation took place at a thoroughly inspiring event – Art_Inbetween – at the newly refurbished Stove on Dumfries high street last week. Luckily for me, it was just one of a whole day full of provocative, compelling and exciting conversations with artists, performers, community workers and more.

It was a breath of fresh air to drive over the hills to Dumfries last week, to listen to people from across Scotland and the rest of the UK talk about art as activism, about art in a rural context, the politics of artistic practice and the very real political barriers to cultural creation in this country. Art_Inbetween was described as “a summit on arts practice in rural regions” but brought out discussions much more diverse than the description suggests. A morning of conversations about Dumfries and Galloway and the creative thread that runs through the region was followed by workshops on topics as diverse as the structures in place to support the arts and the problems of a rural/urban definition for how seriously rural-based artists are taken.

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I was really heartened to hear the feedback from the different workshops at the end, all reaching the same conclusions. That capitalism, centralisation and an urban-focused economy are all deeply destructive and that we need greater democracy, participation and equality across the country if we’re to stand any hope of truly supporting the arts in D&G and beyond.

Throughout the day, it became increasingly clear to me that art and “the arts” more generally are not something separate from society. Indeed, to think of art in this way runs the risk of devaluing artistic practice and alienating many of the people who would benefit most from participating in it. If we’re to support the arts, through things like the Scottish Green Party’s Intermittent Work Scheme and protection for arts venues and studios, we must do so with an understanding that artistic endeavour is at the very heart of cultural life in Scotland. We must understand that art and politics are neither separate nor mutually exclusive, but bound up together.”

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