An interactive exhibition, showcasing redesigned coin faces, envisions the future of Dumfries. Inspired by the UK government’s commitment of £20 million for the revitalisation of the town centre, we pose the question: Where should these funds be allocated?
Utilize the provided coins to cast your vote on the desired investment areas, ranging from safe spaces to cycling initiatives.
What is your vision for the future of Dumfries Town Centre?
Unleash your creativity by sketching your own face on the supplied sheets. Consider what is most crucial for the town and express your opinion on where the investment should be directed.
Available to view during regular Cafe opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.
Spaces are often designed with a single perspective in mind. Whether a space is accessible, navigable, or comfortable depends on individual identity. Safe spaces are crucial for fostering communities, friendships, and confidence.
From pubs to public squares, prioritising ‘safe spaces’ supports people in being themselves. With investment, these spaces become vital for town regeneration, ensuring inclusion and accessibility are integrated into new plans and enterprises.
Investing in new homes within a struggling town centre holds the potential to spark a multifaceted revival, addressing not only the prevailing wealth disparity between generations but also breathing new life into the town’s cultural, economic, and tourism dimensions.
Whilst regularly accessing wilderness or countryside may not be easy for everyone, our villages, towns and cities boast a wealth of greenspace. These spaces are a vital piece of local infrastructure, providing benefits for physical and mental wellbeing, creating space for biodiversity and nature in our communities and often acting as key social spaces for communities to meet, relax and play.
Strategic investment in our local heritage, spanning architecture to tourism, can deliver substantial economic benefits, positioning Dumfries as a pivotal town in both Scottish and British history. Through initiatives such as guided tours, conservation efforts, museums, and the seamless integration of history into public art and spaces, emphasising the town’s rich historical tapestry can generate enduring economic returns for future generations.
Living alongside our nearest river has posed complex challenges for our town centre, spanning from contentious flood defence schemes to ecological campaigns assessing the river’s future. Investing in sustainable, locally-led solutions may foster a new relationship with the Nith. Whether through innovative design or ecologically sound solutions, the river could emerge as a pivotal element in shaping the town’s future.
Dumfries is ripe for increased investment in cycling infrastructure, from cycle paths to rent-a-bikes. Supporting homegrown initiatives that boost awareness, develop new plans, and implement improved cycling designs can usher in a fresh and prosperous identity for the town.
Access Information: Level Access in rear of building through adjacent close to left-hand side of the Cafe (facing the front of the building). To ensure your experience with us is as best as it can be, please do let us know if you have any specific access requirements and we’d be happy to help. Please email Kevin or Sal on: [email protected] or phone 01387 252435 and speak with one of our team. We are able to provide walk-throughs of the building before attending our events as well as assign seating before your arrival.
2022 was an exciting year for us here at The Stove. From developing new projects, expanding and delivering ongoing ones and growing opportunities for creatives in the region, we’re immensely proud of the team, and so thankful for the continued support of our members, customers, communities and partners, all of whom have played a part in the story of The Stove.
Looking back at all the fantastic things the Stove team have accomplished from April 22’ to March 23’, we asked our team to reflect on their highlights of the year:
Saying Hello and Goodbye
From April 2022 onwards, we had a year of providing opportunities at the Stove. During this time, we awarded the total value of £237 537 of contracts to people, 56% of which were under 25 and 86% were local.
We said goodbye to two members of staff this year who have left to grow and complete projects and career goals of their own, Edith and Beth. We said hello to five members of new staff over the course of the year. This year we were fortunate to work with a brilliant new team of Creative Spacers; Alice, Emma and Morgan, and we said hello to two new members of our comms team; WWDN Content Creator Malcolm, and Marketing Assistant Erin. Last year we also welcomed our community events producers, who have been supporting Open Hoose; Leanne & Mia. You can learn more about our team via our The Stove Team page. Our Production lead, Sal Cuddihy, shared the following thoughts about our producers;
“Its’ been an absolute pleasure having Leanne and Mia join our team this year to pilot a Creative Event Producer program, they both have done some amazing things this year, working with a wide range of communities to deliver events. Now with Meg as our newest edition to the production family, I’m super proud of them all!”
Sal Cuddihy (Production Lead) on our Community Event Producers
Open Hoose is a project at the heart of the Stove’s community venue. Ideas are given the space, time, resources and support of the Stove Network to launch ambitious projects to galvanise and gather our communities together.
The projects that have been nurtured through our Open Hoose programme this year have been; Doughlicious, Free Improvisation, Queer Club, The Hoose, WRITE!, Climate Kitchen, Nith Life, Doongamers and Repair Shop.
Our Community Events Producers shared the following about their involvement with Open Hoose:
“My Highlight of last year was watching community groups grow through our Open Hoose program in numbers and ambitions throughout the year.”
Leanne Bradwick (Community Events Producer)
“Working on Open Hoose events makes you realise what’s possible when you empower the community to take a lead in local programming. The possibilities are endless and the impact this has had on individuals and the wider community has been invaluable.“
Mia Osborne (Creative Spaces & Community Events Producer)
High Street Multiverse is a digital, public art project run by the Stove Network, supported by Dumfries & Galloway Unlimited. This project saw different QR codes being stationed at different points on Dumfries High Street with different content to access when scanned.
You can find out more about High Street Multiverse here.
Brave New Words continued throughout 2022, before coming to a bittersweet ending. Brave New Words was the Stove’s monthly open mic night for writers, artists, musicians and songwriters to share words spoken or sung to an audience in the heart of the town centre.
“Brave New Words – I cried, I laughed, I contemplated and I was inspired!'”
2022 was a big year for WWDN – our creative placemaking network. WWDN supports partnerships between artists and community organisations across Dumfries & Galloway, co-creating with local communities to develop new projects, local plans, training, and enterprise.
Kathryn Wheeler, our WWDN Project Lead shared the following about the previous year.
“Last year has been one full of changes, as most are in both the areas of community and cultural working. The focus of my work has grown more and more towards the development the What We Do Now project, working with the team here, and the community organisations involved, to shape a network that can support creative projects to emerge from communities across the region with the aim of starting new and inspiring things in those places. A highlight for me was September, when we were able to stage Scotland’s first ever Creative Placemaking forum, welcoming artists, community groups, policy-makers, funders, to share their ideas on the value of this work and the impact it could have for our communities if properly supported. For me it really highlighted how our small corner of the world is punching way above its weight.”
Malcolm Struthers our WWDN Content Creator shared the following thoughts about their involvement with WWDN last year,
“It has been a pleasure to help share the story of What We Do Now, and how it has grown and developed over the past year. In particular to help showcase the variety of activities that have taken place across the region, in the communities that are part of this ground-breaking initiative.“
Malcolm Struthers (WWDN Content Creator)
KNOw ONE Place took place in Dumfries in September 2022 and was an ambitious, future-thinking discussion on how communities can use creativity to lead the development of their places.
You can read KNOw ONE Place HERE, and you can visit the WWDN website HERE.
A highlight in our calendar every year, Nithraid returned with a splash in in 2022. Nithriad Festival celebrates and explores Dumfries’ long relationship with its river and its importance to people and the communities it connects in the past, present and future.
Each year we hold a River Race to celebrate our heritage and connection to the Nith. The 2022 race was saturated in sunshine and saw lots of people venture along the Nith.
Production Lead Sal shared the following about last years race;
“Now part of the fixtures for coastal rowing and canoing we had over 40 different vessels competing on the river Nith, that and the weather being in our favour for a change, saw the river the busiest it has ever been with competitors and was incredible to see.”
Sal Cuddihy (Production Lead)
You can read more about Nithraid here, and follow the Nithraid Instagram account here.
2022 was also a big year for Public Arts. Public Art activity at the Stove supports core programming with additional activities exploring temporary or permanent uses in public space, as well as offering support to external projects such as the fountain project. From the Progressive Seagull Alliance (yet to be trademarked but watch this space), to the beginning of the Fountain Restoration project, a wealth a public art projects have been carried out across the year.
Reel to Real Cinema delivered monthly screenings of cinematic gems. From documentary to artists made shorts, independent to international film. We aim to bring people together to share food, film and discussion. Katie, our public art lead shared the following about Reel to Real,
“In August we hosted a special screening of Long Live My Happy Head with the filmmakers, Gordon Shaw and friends. Gordon left a truly inspirational mark on all of us and I feel privileged to have been able to host the space. And just last month, we hosted a screening of [BREATHE] from Orchestras Live in the Dock Park bandstand, which felt like a such a good opportunity to experience film together in an unexpected setting.”
Katie Anderson (Public Art Lead)
Conversing Building exhibitions in the café this year have included work from Access Art, Holywood Primary School and HMP Dumfries in collaboration with Alice Myers.
The Wild Goose Festival returned, bigger and better as ever. The week-long festival weaves art, culture, and nature together through a series of activities from interactive storytelling, nature walks, conversations to performances and creative workshops for all the family.
“Wild Goose Festival welcomed 3000 visitors across 35 events at multiple venues throughout Dumfries and Galloway. The festival is co-designed and delivered in partnership with over 20 local and regional organisations, and is a platform to explore nature, creativity and place through celebrating the inspirational migration of 6 species of geese into D&G each year.”
Graham Rooney (General Manager & WGF Project Lead)
“My standout moment of last year was the successful launch of the Wild Goose Festival website. It was months of planning, collaboration, geese, and hard work. I’m very proud of what we achieved.”
Robbie Henderson (IT Coordinator)
Solway to Svalbard, an immersive, multi-artform response to the spring migration or barnacle geese launched in 2022. Created by composer Stuart Macphearson, filmmaker Emma Dove and sound recordist Pete Smith, this unique piece of theatre brought together original music with cinematic visuals, evocative soundscapes, and live storytelling.
The Stove Network and Stranraer Development Trust (SDT) partnered with Dandelion, to create the Unexpected Garden at Burns House in Stranraer. Led locally by, Emerging Creative Producer, Bethany Piggott who worked with both the partners and community to deliver the project.
Stove Orchestrator Matt Baker shared the following thoughts about what was happening in Stranraer last year,
“The Stove project that gave me the shivers this year was the Harvest Festival in the Unexpected Garden in Stranraer, it had all the classic ingredients to transform a place into something exciting and gathering people from all walks of life to come together and celebrate their community and their love of their town.”
Fuelled by experimentation and play, Creative Spaces is predominantly about working collaboratively to engage, inspire, provoke and provide both experiences and opportunities for young people in Dumfries & Galloway.
Creative Spacer Producer Mia shared the following about the 22/23 Creative Spaces achievments:
“If there’s one thing this years Creative Spaces team did with bells on, it was engagement. From Dundee to Stranraer, Wester Hailes to Caerlaverock, the team have engaged with a plethora of community groups, organisations, charities and people in order to build a larger picture of what the creative industries looks like in not only D&G but the whole of Scotland and to inspire wins from other places here in Dumfries. The associates have engaged with young people from across the region championing the creative industries whilst also engaging with our board and membership to inform proactive change internally from the perspective of young creatives.”
Mia Osborne (Creative Spaces and Community Events Producer)
It’s true that ‘the people make the place’, particularly when talking about the team here at The Stove. Working with such a talented and dedicated team is a joy, and I cant wait to see what we achieve together over 2023.
Kevin Stewart (Head of Communication & Engagement)
You can find out more about each of our ongoing projects here, and you can look at the the work we have completed over previous years in our archive here.
We have events at the Stove all year round! You can check out our current event programme here.
Lockerbie Old School (LOS) in collaboration with the Stove Network are seeking to commission a creative practitioner(s) to work with LOS, its board, and local partners in engaging the community through an arts project exploring themes of possibility, identity, and re-connection.
Time: Flexible. To be agreed in early stages of the commencement of the project.
*There is a separate production budget associated with the project for materials and other expenses.
The creative practitioner(s) will work in Lockerbie, based at their High Street location, and use their practice to develop a project/series of events/artwork which invites the involvement of local people. The creative practitioner(s) will lead this co-created process to inspire new connections between people in the town and through this for possible future identities for the town to emerge which can be part of LoS’s ongoing work for the local community to take charge of its own future.
Following the key themes of; Possibility, Identity, Re-Connection, the creative practitioner(s) will work with key partners, community members and the residents of the town, it is expected the creative practitioner(s) will connect with individuals and groups in skills-based activity and conversation to understand, interpret and explore the future identity of the town.
LOS are eager to collaborate with a creative practitioner with a ‘hands-on’ practice in textiles, design, or craft to engage the community in new skills, utilising a dynamic creative practice to inspire and awaken new perspectives, ideas and hopes for the future. The project, it is expected, may serve as a prototype for forthcoming arts and community activities involving the wider community locally and regionally.
The commissioned artist will work with the Stove Network and LOS in determining the direction and approach of the project through a research an development period agreed by all parties, outlining key interaction points and determining the most beneficial approach to realise the project’s aims.
WWDN: Lockerbie, contributes in part to the ongoing ‘creative place-making* network’ of Dumfries & Galloway entitled What We Do Now. A collaborative project placing creative practitioners with community anchor organisations across Dumfries & Galloway, working with communities in a co-created process to explore and develop imaginative possibilities for residents, communities, and groups across the region.
The project, initially funded by Culture Collective, is one within a national network of socially-engaged, community-based creative practice across Scotland. LoS alongside the Stove Network are eager to hear from practitioners with experience in community-embedded practice, workshop facilitation and production.
*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.
About Lockerbie Old School:
The Lockerbie Old School Community Hub (LoS) are an anchor organisation for change within the town of Lockerbie and the DG11 postal region, aiming to put local people at the heart of regeneration efforts for their town. The Trust is run by a Board of volunteers who are working towards a number of significant projects in Lockerbie. Having been successful in gaining ownership of the former Academy through a Community Asset Transfer they have advanced plans to develop a not for profit but financially viable Community Venue where the people of Lockerbie can gather, learn and grow as a community. LoS are in the process of acquiring a permanent base on the High Street. It is intended that the space be a test-bed for future activity and will feature a community workshop space as well as act as a ‘front door’ to the Lockerbie Old School project for the local community to engage in.
How to Apply
To apply please send the following before 5pm, Wednesday 15th December 2022
Letter of Interest. This should tell us why you are interested in the commission, why you think you and your practice are suited to this opportunity and give us an outline idea of how you might approach the project if you were successful (NB we are NOT looking for fully formed project proposals at this stage – we are committed to arts practice whereby a project is formed by being in a place and working with the people there)
CV. This should tell us about your personal history, your experience and to date and give us an idea of the skills that you have.
Up to 5 examples of previous work. If you do not have 5 don’t worry – we are committed to making opportunities for people at all stages of their career, this is exactly the kind of thing we can discuss in an initial chat. We are looking for you to show us what you do in the way that you are most comfortable and happy with and can accept submissions in weblinks, photo files, sound files, or physical works (though please don’t send us original artworks!).
Submissions should not exceed 10MB in size. If you want to send or deliver a physical submission our address is: The Stove, 100 High Street, Dumfries DG1 2BJ
We are keen to hear from practitioners at all stages of development and from all disciplines. We’d encourage anyone interested in finding out more about the opportunity to get in touch for an initial informal chat – particularly people at earlier stages of their careers as we can explain more about what is involved in a project like this and what to include in an application. Please email [email protected] and we’ll arrange a time to talk (BSL interpretation is available)
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.
Over 800 people have completed an online survey which asked for views on the future of the town centre. From the sign-up on the survey and the two consultation events held since November 2016 there is now a group 0f 483 people in a mailing group to support this local project to re-populate Dumfries High Street as part of efforts to revitalise the town.
Melissa Gunn (University of the West of Scotland – who are members of the community partnership leading the project) says, “We have been overwhelmed by the response from people; we were not expecting to receive as many as we did, considering the number of people we had through the doors during our Bakers Oven event. Online surveys often bring out more negative responses, but here the opposite was true. We were particularly surprised by 40% of people saying they themselves would be keen to live in the town centre.”
The Midsteeple Quarter survey was completed by a wide age range of people with 20% of respondents under 35, the majority between 35 and 60 and 23% over 60. People felt that a populated High Street was important for a vibrant town centre. There was also strong support for a mix of accommodation from affordable tenancies to student accommodation and private flats available in the upper floors above the shops.
Confirming previous work conducted by The Stove Network, the consultations revealed support for a more diverse approach to the future of the town centre with a very positive response to ideas of enterprise, education, live-work, health services and restaurants/nightlife all being available as well as more events, festivals and markets to encourage more footfall in the town centre.
The Midsteeple Quarter project is developing fast including progress with:
Transferring the Bakers Oven building to community ownership to be developed as a business/education innovation hub with residential accommodation above.
Dumfries & Galloway NHS have joined the community partnership as part of their plans to re-locate services and staff as part of the changes connected with the new hospital.
We are moving forward with the formation of a new community company called ‘Dumfries High Street’ to steward the Midsteeple Quarter project for the benefit of local people.
Preparations are underway for a national architectural competition to test out the public’s ideas and shape a vision for the project that can be delivered by the community partnership.
Working with DGC Planners to embed Midsteeple Quarter within the new Local Development Plan.
All in all there is very encouraging progress around the project – the local media are reporting very positively (see BBC here) and we have cross-party political support. If you would like to know more detail or get more actively involved please reply to this email or drop into The Stove Cafe for a chat.
Over 15th and 16th November, The Stove Network led a two-day event in the Bakers Oven on Dumfries High Street to talk to people about bold new plans for the town centre. Midsteeple Quarter is an innovative way to encourage people to live back in the town through a community-led company developing a section of the High Street as a live/work quarter. Over the past year The Stove has consulted with members of the community and a consensus has emerged that re-populating the town centre is a major part of any plan to bring new life back to the High Street.
Chapter One at The Baker’s Oven, Dumfries.
Over the last year we have noticed a real shift in attitudes – in the past people tended to look to the Council to do everything. Now the conversation has changed to ‘what can we do ourselves?’. This is a very positive change and one that has been confirmed by the number of local groups becoming part of the Midsteeple Quarter project – these include: Loreburn Community Council, Third Sector D&G, Unviversity of West of Scotland, NHS D&G, Crichton Institute, Upland, MakLab Dumfries and many more including the Council.
The Bakers Oven became a lively project hub over the 15th and 16th November, featuring a pop up living room, discussions and workshops. It also featured the exhibition, ‘People’s Dumfries’; a collection of Dumfries inspired artworks, including models of buildings within the town by Frank Brown. The Bakers Oven also played host to in house writer and Stove Curatorial Team Member, Martin Joseph O’Neill. Through the night of the 15th November, Martin spent 12 hours writing as part of ongoing project – Midnight Moonlight Smalltown Rain. Words and thoughts appeared in real time on the windows of the Bakers Oven. Come dawn, the story was complete.
Over 100 people signed up to ‘The Dumfries Pledge’ in support of community development in the town and people also shared their stories of old Dumfries and contributed to the vision for a Midsteeple Quarter. Suggestions included a focus on the Whitesands as a tourist destination and entry point to the town, affordable live/work premises in the town centre to encourage new enterprises, bringing services like healthcare and education into the town centre and more of a focus on the history of the town, with Tour Guides and History Tours throughout the region.
People’s comments and plans from the exhibition will be on show in the Stove Café from Tuesday 29th November for the town to continue to comment and get involved. The project recently received a boost at the beginning of this week with news of seed funding from The Scottish Government’s Activating Ideas Fund. This will allow the local community’s ideas to be taken to the next stage of reality and The Stove building will continue to be the information point for the project. Anyone interested in contributing or signing up to the Dumfries Pledge is encouraged to drop in or get in touch with The Stove – [email protected].