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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: whatwedonow.scot 


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.”

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Musings

Guerrilla Localism in Dumfries

We were inspired recently by a letter into the local Standard newspaper from Maureen Farrell, looking at some of the locally led community projects and initiatives kicking off in Dumfries and calling for a push from agencies and larger organisations in the region to join a new movement of locally inspired positive change for Dumfries.
For those who missed it in the paper, on the 6th of February, we’ve decided to reproduce it here.

Thank you Maureen!

square-go-making-dumfries-number-one-eolos-exhibition-5_25845679780_o

‘Having just enjoyed the delights that the Big Burns Supper brings to my home town of Dumfries has made me think that here was a homemade success story that was conceived by a local person, Graham Main, and brought to life by the hundreds of volunteers.

It brings the town to life in the dead of winter but, as well as entertaining us, it most importantly brings money and people into our region.

Kirstin McClure Rowe and Leah Halliday are working on a project to bring artists, makers and producers of crafts to the High Street to assist them in marketing their produce but especially to revive the High Street. By having a variety of talented people show their wares they hope to offer a range of unique products and help to market Dumfries as a town that people would want to visit.

At the moment Save Rosefield Mills is holding community consultation meetings to explore how we might rescue the beautiful mill in Troqueer that overlooks the Nith. Luke Moloney, Mark Zygadlo and Sheila Cameron are leading the battle. It would be such a failure if we let our heritage rot away. Again it is a local initiative led by local people.

The Stove is facilitating an attempt to bring housing and other services back to the Midsteeple Quarter. Matt Baker and fellow activists are leading this community-led initiative which would help in re-populating our wonderful Georgian High Street architecture.

Belle Doyle is leading an attempt to improve the rail connections between Dumfries and the central belt with the Dumfries Railway Action Group. This would not only improve our access to Glasgow and Edinburgh but it would also bring people flooding into this area.

These are all examples of local people doing it for themselves. These initiatives have sprung up now because people are tired of seeing the town of Dumfries fade away. We deserve something better.

There has been a lot of criticism of Dumfries and Galloway Council for not doing more but we have to remember that local government is being hammered by austerity and is struggling to fulfill its legal duties in the fields of education, social work, litter collection, planning etc.

Today I read an article by Aditya Chakrabortty about the regeneration of Preston, a town in Lancashire, which had problems similar to our own. Preston turned its fortunes around by spending locally. They call it Guerrilla Localism. [You can read the article in full here]

The local council, NHS and other big-spending organisations were persuaded to spend whatever monies they received from government in their local area, keeping the money circulating there and bringing more employment to the town and its surrounding area.

They did this by breaking down contracts that had to be tendered into amounts that local firms could provide. This increased the number of people locally who were in employment, they in turn spent their money locally and the town and surrounding area prospered. By having the courage to take the initiative local councilors in Preston rescued their town from fading away into obscurity. Who not Dumfries and Galloway, I thought.

I believe the examples I have outlined show that we have the people locally who are prepared to work energetically to make things happen. Now we need the local council, NHS and other agencies that are centrally funded to examine what they do with the considerable amount of money they do receive and make it work for Dumfries and Galloway.

Guerilla Localism could turn around the fortunes of Dumfries and Galloway.’

Maureen Farrell's letter in the Standard earlier this month
Maureen Farrell’s letter in the Standard earlier this month
Categories
Musings

everybody is just a human being

Jordan Chisholm is a student at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland studying Contemporary Perfomance Practice. She is currently doing a placement at The Stove and writing a blog about her experience with us – this is her first post..

Jordan (with blue hair) performing in the Salty Coo performance (Nithraid 2016) she co-designed and produced with Dillon Colthard
Jordan (with blue hair) performing in the Salty Coo performance she co-designed and produced with Dillon Colthard for The Stove’s Nithraid 2016. Photo Kirstin McEwan

When I was thinking about where I wanted to do my placement for third year – I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to do it in Dumfries. I moved to Dumfries, in 2012, when I was seventeen years old. When I left school, I had a university offer to do Criminology but I wasn’t entirely sure if this is what I wanted to do. My mum has stayed in Dumfries for around fourteen years and it was decided that I would move in with her, to be in a new environment with no one I knew.

I’d visited Dumfries many times at the weekends and over school holidays but living there on a daily basis was something extremely different. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the town. As an ‘outsider’ coming from Edinburgh; I felt as though I really did not belong in this beautiful space and I could not explain why. I guess this was something internal and I spent most of my first year living in Dumfries travelling back to Edinburgh; there was something I was not prepared to let go and starting a new life was not as simple as I had anticipated.

Time passed and I began to open my mind. I met new people and started to do new things. I began to explore Dumfries in a new way; it was like a playground – full of magic, wonder and uncertainty. I still feel much of that uncertainty today – over four years later. However, I am not scared by this anymore; instead it inspires me and it always leaves me wanting more.

Dumfries changed me. It changed the way I look at things, it changed my opinions, it gave me a platform to do things I never thought I was capable of doing, it gave me something to be passionate about, it allowed me to learn about myself and who I could be, it shaped my future, my hopes and my dreams; Dumfries changed my life. But could I change Dumfries?

When I think about what I may want to do in the future; giving something back to Dumfries is at the top of my list. You see, in this misunderstood town, where there may not be very much to do, there are hundreds of people who all share the same love and understanding of what this space really is. Dumfries has a strange pull to it; and this pull is of upmost importance to the future of the town. We have to work together to allow people to feel proud of where they come from – to make them want to stay. This is what I want to be a part of. A part of the regeneration of Dumfries through art, creativity and sheer hope. I want Dumfries to give everyone what it gave to me, and I don’t want them to have to look very hard to get what they are looking for.

The Stove Network is situated in the centre of Dumfries. It is a fully accessible public arts space/facility/resource for the population of the town and the wider region. It is a support network that creates opportunities and connections for the creative community and integrates with the local economy and wider society. One of The Stove’s aims is to use the arts to engage and empower people for themselves, the places they live and society at large. This aim is vital to my own learning and development; I knew that this was where I had to be for placement. I wanted to know how they manage to do what they do in a town that says no much more than it says yes. I wanted to live and breathe their commitment to the Dumfries community and I wanted to be around people who share the same desires as I do; who can show me how to make a positive difference with an understanding of the quality in process as well as the product.

Although I knew why I wanted to be at The Stove, I was still extremely nervous on my first day and I did not know what to expect. It reminded me of my earlier ‘outsider’ feelings but I pushed these to the side and arrived with no expectations as to how my first week may turn out.

I was met by curator, orchestrator and public artist; Matt Baker. The motivation for Matt’s work is to have an effect in the place for which it is made. I find it comforting and reassuring having the opportunity to be mentored by someone who vocalises that they became an artist to change the world.

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