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The Market of Possibility Reflection

Images by Kirstin McEwan Photography

Throughout July & August 2023, the Market of Possibility took over a former retail unit in the Loreburne Centre in Dumfries, offering a new and interactive space, where the public could visit free of charge, get creative and share their visions for the future of our town.

This project was made in collaboration with Dumfries Partnership Action Group (DPAG) and supported by the National Lottery Community Fund. The Market held exhibitions, workshops and interactive elements by local community groups and each of the Stove’s Open Hoose Projects. Learn more about the project below.

The Market of Possibility was an opportunity to work with our Open Hoose groups towards realising an ambitious project exploring the future identity of the town as a thriving, connected and creative place to live. Being able to connect these campaigns, communities and enterprises within the larger Dumfries Partnership Action Group action plan, rooted the ideas and activity to a broader campaign towards the grassroots regeneration of our town. From music to history, the idea of a diverse, cultural and community-led town centre once again felt more than tangible.

Martin O’Neill, Artistic Director

The space that held the Market was transformed by the Stove’s production team from an empty retail space into a collaborative playground with tactile exhibitions, interactive elements and areas where the public were urged to get involved and share their own thoughts about the future of the town.

The space was open three days each week over the two months from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, and was visited by Dumfries locals, visitors, and tourists who delved into a world of grassroots campaigns, electrifying projects, and inspiring initiatives, all led by local people.

Being involved with the transformation of the unit in the Loreburne Centre was a fantastic opportunity to bring together so many fantastic community groups from Dumfries into one cohesive, stimulating, and accessible space. We sectioned the ‘market’ into different town sections, where those visiting the space could explore different futures for Dumfries just by walking around taking everything in. As the production team, we were able to engage and talk with the public, which resulted in very meaningful and insightful conversations about our town that we are excited to build upon in the future.  

Sal Cuddihy, Production Lead

Referencing Dumfries’ history as the regions key market town, the Market was focussed on the celebration of local innovation and creativity and featured a plethora of creative workshops as well as interactive installations in partnership with some of the town’s most popular creative community groups.

The local community groups that were involved with the Market of Possibility were Re:Dress, DMC, For Enjoyment, The Missing Museum, Dumfries Pride, Deep Green Space and Paragon Music.

Our Open Hoose groups were also involved, with Doughlicious, Free Improvisation, Queer Club, Write, Nith Life and Repair Shop hosting drop-in events for the public.

The space as a whole asked those who entered “What if Dumfries was…”, where visitors were urged to ponder the possibility of our town being a green, creative, making, inclusive, music, and historic town. Each of these avenues of thought roused hundreds of responses, and from this exercise we can explore what the future of Dumfries might look like, and all the different possibilities that may shape it.

The legacy of MOP is so vast that being able to boil down to a few key actions is a little daunting but certainly something we can’t wait to explore. Using the different ‘towns’ within the space was particularly well received as a means of exploring not only the Dumfries of the future, but the town as it is today. We’ve over 400 postcards of creative ideas from the public to rifle through which may well lead to the next big thing for Dumfries. Above all however, working across all the community groups, partners, organisations, campaigns and businesses towards realising this project has laid a fertile ground for more collaborations in the near future. Collaborations both enterprising, creative and surprising. I can’t wait to see what comes next. 

Martin O’Neill

Learn more about the Market of Possibility, and each of the groups involved with the project here.

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