OPEN HOOSE – Nith Life

February 28 @ 6:00 pm 8:00 pm

Part of our Open Hoose Programme and inspired by conservation initiatives across the country, a new group wants to question and explore what exactly a Conservation Trust for the River Nith might look like. This is the ideal opportunity for those passionate about protecting one of our most extraordinary natural assets to get together and look for solutions faced by our rive Nith.

The Stove Cafe will be open for pre-event food and drinks from 5.30pm, the event will start at 6pm sharp.

100 High Street
Dumfries, DG1 2BJ United Kingdom
01387 252435
View Venue Website
Opportunities Project Updates

Call for Consultant: Community Garden and Food Growing in Stranraer

The Stove Network is seeking applications for a consultancy commission to develop a long-term plan and funding applications for the future of the Unexpected Garden in Stranraer.


It is hoped that the consultancy commission will be completed within the first three months of 2023.


A fee of £3000 (inclusive of VAT) is offered for this commission. Reasonable expenses will be reimbursed at negotiated rates and an allowance is also held for any production costs required

Context and Brief

We are seeking an experienced consultant to support the development of the Unexpected Garden in Stranraer ensuring that it has a life well into the future. Stranraer is currently undergoing an exciting period of change and development and already the Unexpected Garden has demonstrated the potential to play a central role in Stranraer’s revitalisation. Significant cultural, economic and social initiatives are underway in the town and there is an ambition for community food growing and education to be a connecting thread in a future Stranraer. The commissioned consultant will:

  • Consult with project partners who have expressed a desire to be part of managing and running the Unexpected Garden (currently approx. 8 established, local, Third Sector groups)
  • Consult with other ongoing regeneration initiatives in the town (eg Stranraer Marina Project and George Hotel redevelopment). Currently a town-wide community place planning (Creating Stranraer) exercise in underway, led by Stranraer Development Trust. The Unexpected Garden is a significant part of the emerging Place Plan.
  • Develop long-term vision for the Unexpected Garden that is aligned with local/national strategy for food security/net zero. This vision will also include a proposed governance/operating structure with financial projections and a programming/development plan that supports the needs and aspirations of project partners.
  • Research funding sources for the future of the Unexpected Garden, develop a fundraising/income strategy and complete funding applications which, if successful, will ensure the initial implementation of the development plan for the garden.

The commission will be managed by The Stove Network and the consultant will work alongside the Community Gardener who will support consultation with project partners on the ground and contribute to the development of the development plan for the Unexpected Garden. Funding applications will be made through project partners Stranraer Development Trust. Additional garden expertise will be available through the project’s Lead Gardener.

Because of the existing strong presence on the ground of partners and project team it is not expected that the consultant will need to be based near to Stranraer; though local knowledge will clearly be an advantage it will not be a high priority within selection.

Funding is available for ongoing maintenance and potentially for some investment in garden infrastructure of the Unexpected Garden up to April 2023. This will be managed by The Stove Network.

How to Apply:

We encourage you to apply in a way that you feel most comfortable or you can submit your CV and a short covering letter, or video, to [email protected], explaining why you’re interested and what you could bring to the role. Please also give an indication of how you would approach delivery of the desired outcomes and how long you anticipate spending on each part.

Deadline for applications: 5pm, Friday 16th December 2022

It’s important that our people reflect and represent the diversity of the communities and audiences we serve. We welcome and value difference, so when we say we’re for everyone, we want everyone to be welcome in our teams too. Wherever you’re from, and whatever your background, we want to hear from you. We will accept applications from anyone and everyone who feels they have the skills required to fulfil this role.

Interested? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!


The Unexpected Garden is a community garden situated on the waterfront of Stranraer, its creation was led by The Stove Network and Stranraer Development Trust. The garden was commissioned by EventScotland and funded via the Scottish Government, as part of Dandelion which was Scotland’s contribution to UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. The Unexpected Garden was created in 2022 on an underused patch of ground next to Stranraer Harbour and the former ferry terminal, it has become a prominent and important symbol of the long hoped for revitalisation of the town and has attracted highly successful partnership working with many local groups. During the summer, the garden became a popular event space for community events ranging from open-mic nights to family craft workshops held in a tent in the garden. Also, the service users of our project partners use the garden regularly and through this activity the garden has become an important mixing space for different sections of the local community. The garden is designed as community food growing project and in September 2022 the Unexpected Garden was home to a community Harvest Festival which was attended by 750+ local folk.

Musings News

Creative Placemaking and How it is Being Implemented Within The Scottish Cultural Sector

Anthony Schrag and Caitlin McKinnon’s paper, “Exploring the Boundary-Crossing Nature of ‘Creative Placemaking’: The Stove as ‘Adaptor/Converter’” features in the internationally renowned publication, Field.

Field is a journal of socially-engaged art criticism and responds to the remarkable proliferation of new artistic practices devoted to forms of political, social and cultural transformation. Frequently collaborative in nature, this work is being produced by artists and art collectives throughout North, South and Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Schrag and McKinnon’s paper explores, in depth, the concept of creative placemaking, and the role of The Stove Network in developing and spearheading this idea within its current methodology and its approach in Southwest Scotland. 

Creative Placemaking, is defined by The Stove Network through the WWDN project as: a community led approach that uses creative activity to support collective decision-making and positive change for people and the places they live. This paper explores the relationships between people, place, and creativity, (Creative Placemaking) and “how this ‘new’ concept of place-based creative works is being implemented within the (UK/Scottish) cultural sector, with particular attention placed on The Stove, in Dumfries.”

Dr Anthony Schrag, co-author of this paper, recently contributed to ‘kNOw One Place’, Scotland’s first forum dedicated to the discussion and ambition of creative placemaking, produced by The Stove Network and supported by South of Scotland Enterprise and Culture Collective (funded by Scottish Government and coordinated by Creative Scotland). This future-thinking discussion on how communities can use creativity to lead the development of their places, featured a series of online webinars and a mixture of open space discussion and expert reflection, exhibition, and original artworks. Drawing people from public, private, independent, and charitable sectors together to share and co-create an agenda for creativity and placemaking for the future.

In the following video, Anthony explores Creative Placemaking, specifically focusing on the idea of a ‘boundary crosser’ using his recent paper as reference:

Matt Baker, Orchestrator, The Stove Network emphases the critical role that creativity can play in the development of community led planning.

“The focus of creative placemaking is to bring under-represented voices from the community into conversations about the future of the area in which they live, through active creative projects. To bring together people, communities, groups, and organisations, public, private and third sector agencies to develop common ground on community-led planning and enterprise.”

Watch Matt as he explains what Creative Placemaking means, in this context, and how it is making an impact through What We Do Now (WWDN), The Stove Network’s creative placemaking pilot project that has been underway for more than 12 months in Dumfries & Galloway. This ground-breaking, collaborative project works with artists, communities and organisations in Castle Douglas, Dumfries, Langholm, Sanquhar and Stranraer.

Caitlin Wallace, an Inspire Graduate with Dumfries & Galloway Council, has explored further the relationship between artists and Places through the strategic partnership Dumfries & Galloway Council has with WWDN.

Caitlin Wallace

Working closely with the project to understand the opportunities within Creative Placemaking for community-led planning and development, specifically as a tool for communities to develop their own Place Plans, Caitlin spent time interviewing the participants of WWDN about their projects and Creative Placemaking approach to working within their communities.

Throughout the WWDN pilot Katharine Wheeler, Partnerships and Projects Development Lead at The Stove Network explains;

“Our focus for the project was to connect artists and community organisations together, to develop creative activities and projects in their communities with the intent for wider social change and wellbeing for those involved.”

Katharine Wheeler, Speaking at kNOw One Place in September 2022.

In this review, Katharine looks back on the first 12 months of the project and not only celebrates successes, but also identifies challenges and opportunities for the future.

This approach to collaborative working practice, leads the way to a new future of creative placemaking in Southern Scotland. To discover more about WWDN and Creative Placemaking in Southwest Scotland, visit: 

Exploring the Boundary-Crossing Nature of ‘Creative Placemaking’: The Stove as ‘Adaptor/Converter’

About the Authors

“Dr. Anthony Schrag is a practicing artist and researcher, and Senior Lecturer at Queen Margaret’s University (Edinburgh). The central focus of his work examines the role of art in participatory and public contexts, with a specific focus on social conflict, agonism and ethics. His PhD and current research examines the notion of ‘Pro-Social Conflict’ within participatory and social-practice projects. His most recent publication The Failures of Public Art and Participation (co-edited with Cameron Cartiere) was released in Sept, 2022. He is currently the Primary Investigator on a RSE project developing a Rural Art Network (Scotland). He has worked nationally and internationally, including residencies in Iceland, USA, Canada, Pakistan, Finland, The Netherlands, and South Africa, among others. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including Royal Society of Edinburgh, The Hope Scot Trust, Creative Scotland, British Council, Royal Scottish Academy, the Dewar Arts Award, Standpoint Futures as well as a Henry Moore Artist Fellowship.

Caitlin McKinnon is an SGSAH funded PhD Candidate exploring Arts Management Education. Caitlin has sought to immerse herself in the arts and cultural world in a variety of different positions. Highlights include co-founding a community arts zine in her hometown, volunteering with a Toronto Artists Collective during their takeover of a vacant subway kiosk and working at the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre to run story-based workshops for the local community.  More recently, Caitlin has worked on several different research projects commissioned by Creative Scotland, British Council (Scotland), Engage Scotland, as well as organisations such as Out of the Blue, the Stove, and SESQUI Canada. As a developing researcher, Caitlin’s research interests include discourses of arts management, professionalisation, cultural policy, and relations of power in the cultural sector.”

Musings News Project Updates

Creative Placemaking

The Stove Network launch kNOw One Place, Creative Placemaking Forum – an ambitious, future-thinking discussion on creative placemaking.  The Forum will take place from 22-23 September 2022 at Loreburn Hall in Dumfries and will draw over 100 people from public, private, independent and charitable sectors across the two days.  Through a mixture of open space discussion and expert reflection, exhibition and original artworks, the forum is set to be a participatory space to think about and develop grass-roots and community-led approaches to placemaking for the future – both nationally and internationally.

We define Creative Placemaking as: a community led approach that uses creative activity to support collective decision-making and positive change for people and the places they live

More about Creative Placemaking

The idea for the forum stems from the work that The Stove Network has led on over the past 10 years.  The Stove Network has been working with a Creative Placemaking approach at its core since its inception to stimulate conversations, change, art, and renewed ownership across communities in Dumfries.  This was then formalised, scaled and piloted as a network approach to working from within communities in the recent project, What We Do Now. What We Do Now helped inform and was part of Scotland’s Culture Collective Programme, a major Scottish initiative for culture and creativity to play a role in the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.

We have also published our approach to Creative Placemaking in our most recent publication, Embers. Now it’s time to dig into the core principles of this work with others, to contribute to our evolving understanding of this way of working in Scotland.

Hear from Katharine Wheeler, Partnerships and Project Development at The Stove Network, as she talks about Creative Placemaking and ‘What We Do Now’:

Join the conversation

Throughout the month of September and in the lead-up to the kNOw One Place forum, The Stove Network will host a series of online activities and events that will take a closer look at creative placemaking. 

These events will bring together the public, private, independent, and charitable sectors through open space discussion, expert reflection, an exhibition, and original artworks.

Across two weeks five digital events will explore the key creative placemaking themes of:

All events take place online from 6pm- 7pm and are open to anyone interested in disusing, contributing to or finding out more about the concept of Creative Placemaking.

What We Do Now (WWDN) is a pilot for a Creative Placemaking Network for Dumfries and Galloway which sees The Stove Network support a community anchor group (place hub) in each of five towns in Dumfries & Galloway to host creative practitioners for an extended period to work with sections of the community in that place to co-create new future visions and practical projects.

WWDN supports artists to explore bold new ideas with communities to give voices to those under-represented in local decision making.

For more information on The Stove Networks approach to creative placemaking and to find out more about the pilot project visit:

Musings News

Progressive Seagull Alliance

An open letter from the Progressive Seagull Alliance

Gulls, vagabonds vindicators, lend me yer chips ears!

The Gull. To a Doonhamer, the seagull or ‘largus paininthearsus’ (in Latin) is as welcome as a fart in a phone box. Their reputation precedes them. And rightly so. Who hasn’t been tormented by the kamikaze swoop of a mother gull protecting its hard-won nest? Or been unwittingly stalked pons’t the purchase of a steak bake? These psychopaths of the sky are to Dumfries as Shania Twain is to a Slipknot concert, incompatible, and not all that welcome. Like Jackson Pollock at a warehouse rave, their excrement paints the town in an abstract canvas of anarchy, leaving a trail of empty Greggs bags and traumatised playgrounds in their wake.

So in light of all that, you might be wondering to yourself why exactly the Stove decided to dawn masks, costumes, banners and flags in celebration of these aerial dementors at this year’s Guid Nychburris. I know because I saw you, yes you, looking more than a little confused, in-between the saltire flag and Currie’s lorry, beside the swaying fella with the lime green afro wig and the trumpet. (Side note: imagine having to explain Guid Nychburris to an alien).

Meet the Progressive Seagull Alliance, a vigilante group dedicated to progressive and positive change for the town.

Yes, like Batman (yes I did just compere this to the Dark Knight himself), the Progressive Seagull Alliance (PSA) are here to tackle the negative perceptions of a town on the cusp of something quite extraordinary. Using the winged fiends as an archetype for the town, the PSA are here to challenge negativity, platform the amazing work that’s happening throughout our town and get active!

Riding on the mighty success of their winning entry to the Guid Nychburris Parade (get in!), the Progressive Seagull Alliance are now recruiting for members!

Think of it like Anonymous, only without the scary ‘V’ masks, encyclopaedic knowledge of cryptocurrency, global financial markets and hacking, the Progressive Seagull Alliance are a new wave of positivity swooping into the town.

So how do you get involved?

Stay on the lookout for the Progressive Seagull Alliance pop-ups happening through August and September! Sign up, contribute to our manifesto and get making!

Opportunities Project Updates

Dandelion – Volunteer Call Out

The team at Dandelion are looking for passionate, reliable and enthusiastic people (Change Makers), who share the belief that people really do lead change.

If you’re passionate about community, place and planet and want to come together with like-minded people to support a programme anchored in driving positive social change, they’d love to hear from you.

Volunteer opportunities are available at the Unexpected Garden Site in Stranraer and across the other Dandelion project site throughout Scotland.

The deadline for applications is 12pm on 20th May 2022

No experience is necessary, however, there are some qualities they’re looking for:

  • Enthusiastic, reliable and flexible;
  • Friendly personality with good communication skills and initiative;
  • An interest in contemporary culture;
  • Ability to commit to a minimum of 2 x 4hr shifts at the festivals or across other public facing events
  • Be 18 or over

Dandelion Change Makers roles consist of four distinct areas, working alongside one another to support the Festivals and Free For All events.

  • Meet and Greet: these volunteers really are the face of Dandelion, they are the friendly faces from whom audiences gather programme information, highlights and guidance from the minute they enter one of our live events. The Meet and Greet team will be around to answer audience questions throughout their visit to the festival, offering insight into the programme or sign posting people to key areas of the site. Our Meet and Greet volunteers are super knowledgeable and love talking with people and supporting our audiences to have the best experience ever. So, stop by and say hello!
  • Event Support: these are the volunteers who support us to help things go smoothly across our events – you might find them signposting the crowd during a walkabout performance or greeting audiences when they enter the a tent for one of our performances or talks. Event Support volunteers are on hand to help our events run smoothly and efficiently, with audience experience always front and centre.
  • Artist Support: not always visible to the public, our Artist Support volunteers will be behind the scenes supporting the artists to make sure not only that their individual shows go smoothly, but that they get a fantastic welcome to Dandelion and the community in which our events are taking place – they are the people who ensure that our artists go home shouting about how amazing festival and our places really are!
  • Access: these are the volunteers who go the extra mile to make sure that visitors who may have access and or additional support needs get the most out of their visit to our events. They are able to answer all your questions and guide you to the right places at the right time to make sure that you get to experience all our performances, talks and workshops.

How to Apply

The online application form gives you the opportunity to make either a written, audio or video application. Whichever format you choose, you’ll be asked to answer the same questions. No assessment will be made of the writing style or the production quality of audio or video recordings. The application form can be found here.

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