Categories
Opportunities

Artist Commission

An Opportunity to Transform a Prominent Town Centre Location in Stranraer

About The Commission:

As a precursor to a Stranraer Street Art Festival (planned for summer 2023), our friends at Stranraer Development Trust are on the hunt for Contemporary Street Artist to undertake a commission to paint the first major wall painting in the town.

The commission forms part of ‘The Creating Stranraer Project’. The work will be positioned in a prominent town centre location, on the same building that will be home to a creative hub for the arts in the town.

This commission forms a part of the early stages of significant investment in culture as a catalyst for change in the town, and creative people will play major role in this change.

Currently a community engagement exercise is underway in Stranraer for local people to choose a contemporary / historical / fictional / real character who the community hopes will be someone who will inspire a new future of the town.

The commissioned artist will be asked to create a design for the wall that interprets the chosen inspirational character.

Elements of the commission:

  • Develop a design for the wall piece
  • Devise and lead two hands-on street art workshops (one with Secondary School pupils and one with FE College students)
  • Give an artists talk for local artists
  • Paint your design on the gable wall

(Workshops and talks will be coordinated by Stranraer’s Arts and Engagement Officer. Budget for access requirements for wall painting will be provided by the commissioner in addition to artist fee.)

Artist Fee: £3000

The fee is inclusive of VAT (where applicable), travel / accommodation and materials for the wall painting.

(NB preparation of the wall surface will be covered by the commissioner and spec agreed with the selected artist).

Time Frame: work to be complete by end 2022

Background:

Stranraer is at a very interesting point in its history – it is somewhere that has re-invented itself several times in the past as industries (eg herring fishing) have changed.

10 years ago the ferry service to Northern Ireland moved from Stranraer and a question mark has hung over the place since – what would the next version of the town be? Stranraer is the regional centre for one of the most beautiful and remote areas of Scotland, a place with a rich history through its connections to Ireland, NW England and Wales.

This commission is part of the series of significant arts projects in Stranraer (eg Dandelion ‘Unexpected Garden’‘What We Do Now’ and ‘Creating Stranraer’) – these projects are supporting a larger regeneration initiative for the town that places arts and creativity at the heart of a future Stranraer and includes the wholesale redevelopment of the former George Hotel as a Community/Cultural Centre.

How to Apply

Please send the following by email to Janet Jones at

[email protected]

  • Letter of interest – stating why you are interested in this project and think you are the right person for the commission. We are interested in hearing about what you are interested in and what motivates you. Tell us about how you might go about getting to know Stranraer and develop your ideas for the project, any relevant work you have done in the past and what you learned from that.
  • Up to five examples of relevant recent work – in any format (weblinks etc), if you are sending files by email, please keep these under 10MB.
  • The names of two referees who can vouch for you and your work (we will not contact anyone until we have offered you the commission)

We are open to submissions in any format  (eg. video, audio file etc for letter) – please contact us via the email address above to arrange an informal chat about the project and/or discuss any access need you have in order to apply.

Deadline for applications is midnight Sunday 18th September 22

It’s important that our people reflect and represent the diversity of the communities and audiences we serve. We welcome and value differences, 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.

This project is supported by:

Categories
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: whatwedonow.scot

Categories
Musings News

Reimagining Where We Live

Cultural Placemaking & the Levelling up Agenda

The Stove often contributes to Government consultations – these are one of the ways that policy is shaped. Committees are the way that Government oversees what it does, so the Culture, Media and Sport Committee looks after the work of the Dept of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), by suggesting new policy directions and holding ministers to account for what they have promised. It is these Committees that run consultations – when they want to explore something, they call for people’s views, they then hold committee sessions to discuss what has been submitted and often call people to speak to them at these sessions. Following this, a committee will make set of recommendations to Ministers and often new policy results.

In February of this year, a consultation (they call them ‘Calls for Evidence’) was announced by DMCS which was around subjects very relevant to the work of The Stove. Our very own Matt Baker pulled together a Stove submission, but also encouraged Stove Members to contribute to this.

The below is the submission of Hope London, who is a commissioned artist working as part of the What We Do Now project, which forms part of the national programme called Culture Collective coordinated by Creative Scotland.


Reimagining where we live: cultural placemaking and the levelling up agenda

By Hope London

Background

My name is Hope London. I’m an artist with a socially-engaged practice and over thirty years of experience in arts management, consultancy and education throughout the UK, including legal issues for the arts and creative industries.  I believe in the transformative power of the arts to make life better and love working with people to release their creative potential.   Website hopelondon.com

I’ve worked in towns and cities labelled some of the most deprived in the country –  Liverpool and Manchester (in the 1990s/early 2000s); North West and North of England (including Barrow in Furness, Burnley, Hull, St. Helens, Newcastle), the Welsh valleys and South West Scotland. Currently commissioned by The Stove (Dumfries) as established artist for ‘What We Do Now’, a Creative Scotland | Culture Collective project in the seaside town of Stranraer, working with the community to re-imagine their vision and identity for the town in the future. 

Introduction

I will focus on the first three questions:

  • How can culture reanimate our public spaces and shopping streets?
  • How can creatives contribute to local decision-making and planning of place?
  • How can the Government support places without established artistic infrastructure to take full advantage of the opportunities that the levelling up agenda provides?

Artists|creatives are often asked to achieve miracles. We may be called upon to work in deprived areas on arts-related projects with community groups, public art commissions, festivals or events.  We wave our wands in the face of post-industrial decline, deteriorating infrastructure, generational poverty, inadequate public transport, lack of opportunity, even a sense of hopelessness about a positive future. 

Sometimes it works.  Successful projects benefit the people who participate, sometimes profoundly.  I can think of many positive examples involving young people, often those with mental health issues or disabilities. But one-off, short-term projects or those aimed only at a specific group don’t lead to major change across the community or help to re-animate the high street and increase economic opportunity. Poorly conceived or executed projects on the other hand, such as works of public art that aren’t properly maintained, can be downright negative, serving to reinforce a sense of neglect. 

Cultural place-making works best when culture is a catalyst, working organically – not imposed top-down but embracing local culture and building from the ground up.

Innovative thinking, sustained attention and commitment of resources are essential ingredients; otherwise, the arts are just a sticking plaster over an unhealed wound.  Artists and creative producers embedded within a community can play a profound role in the healing process that will lead to the kind of deep, ongoing positive change envisaged by the Levelling Up agenda.  It starts by connecting with the people who live and work there.

Artists|Creatives and Cultural Place-Making

Artists are well-placed to do the work – lack of formal arts infrastructure is not an obstacle*

Arts and creative professionals with a background in community work are well-positioned to work at ground level as a catalyst for cultural place-making, even in areas of the country there is little recognised arts infrastructure.  Local councils, arts councils (e.g. Creative Scotland) and local/regional arts organisations know how to advertise, recruit and work with communities to commission artists/creatives to work with them.  Where needed, appropriate training could be made available (how to prepare a brief, recruit, commission and work with artists and creatives).

Artists can come into a place first.  A formal arts infrastructure is likely to evolve later. There are usually more creative people in every community than some at national level might imagine, albeit a less formal kind of infrastructure.  Artists who work in communities know how to connect and collaborate with local creatives and build on people’s interests, abilities and resources to help communities take advantage of opportunities offered by the Levelling Up agenda.

The ‘art project’ is the place itself.  Artists use creative tools to help communities express what they need and want.

Artists are able to create projects designed specifically to discover what local people most want and need.  We’re currently doing this kind of work as part of the ‘What We Do Now’ project in Stranraer, a rural town in South West Scotland.  My colleague Rory Laycock and I co-designed The Stranraer Colouring Book and printed 1,000 copies for distribution throughout the community.  We first talked to a range of local people on the street and at community events to find out what they wanted to change in their town.  We discovered that amongst their top priorities were certain landmark buildings that have become, in their words, neglected or abandoned ‘eyesores’ – omnipresent, depressing structures that lower community morale and deter new businesses and tourists.

The colouring book is just one example of an artist-led intervention – a fun, accessible way of giving people a chance to express their views and make them known.  The completed books will be collected and documented.  There will be an exhibition, and the information gleaned will be collated and shared with local government and more widely, for use in planning redevelopment and making a case for the necessary support. 

* Question 3How can the Government support places without established artistic infrastructure to take full advantage of the opportunities that the levelling up agenda provides?

Artists|creatives initiate change organically – this is a chance to do it better

Perhaps the first question should be expanded to ask “how can culture reanimate our public spaces and shopping streets without making the town too expensive for local residents and businesses?”  This relates directly to the second question: How can creatives contribute to local decision-making and planning of place? 

Sometimes artists|creatives are commissioned to work on cultural place-making projects – but perhaps more often, artists and creative businesses initiate change organically by gravitating to cheap living, working and retail spaces, and kick-starting regeneration. I witnessed this process while living in New York’s East Village in the 1970s and there are numerous examples worldwide.  As boarded-up buildings are replaced by new shops, galleries, restaurants, bookshops and cafes alongside established businesses, public spaces and shopping areas become more vibrant and interesting.  Morale is lifted when eyesores are cleaned up and derelict buildings refurbished.

The danger, however, is gentrification – as more affluent people are attracted to the area, property prices and rents increase; local people who don’t own their properties may be forced out or decide to sell.  Often, the very artists who moved in and started the regeneration process can no longer afford to stay.  This has not yet happened in Stranraer.

You have an opportunity to harness the power of artists and culture to ‘do regeneration’ better, avoiding the pitfalls of gentrification.  In this context, it’s important to remember that people are at the core of culture.  Public spaces and shopping areas are animated by food, fashion, art, music, dance, trees, gardens, architecture, design, performance, shopfronts, street vendors…and the people who live, work and shop there.  Regeneration is supposed to be about making people’s lives better. You don’t want to lose them in the process.

If affordable live/work/community spaces are a serious part of the long-term regeneration plan, local residents and businesses won’t be priced out, and creatives|artists will be encouraged to stay in the area as well.

Artists animate streets and spaces

Streets and public spaces are key to regeneration.  Artists, working with community groups, can co-create projects and programmes of work to bring the public realm alive.  Other creatives can be brought in, commissioned by the community to realise events and projects. Safe, clean, well-designed spaces in the public realm are potential stages for street markets, festivals, horticulture/permaculture, processions, sporting events, performance. Vistas obstructed by rubbish skips and cars – like the view of the sea in Stranraer – can be opened up and walkways/viewing platforms built.  Uninspiring walls can become landmark murals or vertical gardens.  Dingy alleyways can be lit in creative ways.

Blighted buildings needed to be addressed as a priority – artists can help

Buildings, vacant lots and other structures (like the disused former ferry pier in Stranraer) in private ownership pose a sticky problem.  Local councils may have authority over what happens in public streets and squares or buildings that they own, but the legal situation is more complex when it comes to requiring owners to repair deteriorating property and/or put it into productive use. 

In Stranraer, as in small post-industrial towns up and down the country, neglected, poorly maintained and empty buildings are more than an eyesore.  Such buildings blight shopping streets and public spaces, affecting the well-being of the people who must pass them every day. Empty or underused, paint peeling, window frames caving in, trees growing through rooftops – while people require housing, workshops, studios and offices – they are literally a waste of space. 

Until there are effective administrative and legal mechanisms for addressing the problem, re-animation risks being superficial and ultimately ineffective. I understand property rights, and that owners must have a reasonable chance to make repairs to a required standard before penalties may be imposed.  However, given the deplorable state of some of the high-street buildings in towns where I’ve worked (in Scotland, North West England, Wales), existing regulations are not doing the job.

I believe a thorough overhaul of regulations is required – for example, requiring compulsory sale orders when owners are unable or unwilling to repair a building that has become an aesthetic detriment to a town – an eyesore, even if it has not quite reached the stage of posing a danger to the public. The legal and business issues involved may be daunting but not impossible.  Community buyouts or purchase by housing associations may be options if a building is up for sale or there is a compulsory purchase by the Council.  Funding is a huge problem but there are innovative ways to encourage owners, developers, residents and artists to work together, with contractual obligations in place to ensure buildings are refurbished to agreed standards and used for the intended purposes at affordable prices.   I know it’s a huge task but in my opinion it’s key to creating the kind of culture-driven levelling up you want to achieve.

Neglected buildings could be refurbished, and those beyond repair gutted and re-designed.  All could become affordable, eco-friendly living, working, business incubator, training, conference or arts/events spaces.  Artists and creatives can put a community’s vision into tangible form with proposals for new uses, re-design and even innovative forms of ownership/partnership to manage buildings.

In short, culture can re-animate buildings, shopping streets and public spaces through:

  • artists and creatives working with communities, using arts-based approaches to articulate a vision for their place and a plan to make it happen (collaborating with the community on local decision-making and planning of place)
  • events, festivals, performance, art, music, food, street markets and more…the whole range of arts and cultural activities that bring streets and public spaces to life
  • improving the aesthetics and utility of the public realm – addressing ‘eyesore’ buildings, rubbish, public realm design, using all tools at the disposal of artists|creatives including planting, street furniture, building facades, lighting, temporary interventions and longer term artworks
  • encouraging artists|creatives to start and operate businesses, shops, cafes, workshops and live/work spaces in premises that are affordable…and finding ways to avoid gentrification
  • re-designing and using derelict buildings for cultural purposes that benefit the community – keeping them in public or third sector ownership where possible
Skip to content