When: 6pm – 7.45pm (with a break) Monday 22nd February 2021 Where: Online – advance registration is required, CLICK HERE. Please note: An email will be sent to you before 22nd February with a link to the online event. Who: Stove members and an open invite to others
The Stove Network’s ‘Annual General Meeting’ (AGM) is a very special feature in our yearly calendar, it’s the moment when all the parts of The Stove from our membership to core team and board members come together to reflect on the year passed as well as look to the future.
Whilst we usually host our AGM in November/December, the team decided to postpone this given the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic. And whilst our AGM is usually a social event with food and the chance to catch up with folk, this year has to be different. And whilst we can’t meet-up in person we’re sure our AGM will be as informative, social and lively as ever.
It is very important to everyone connected with The Stove that the organisation reflects the community it serves so we’d encourage everyone with even a passing interest in the work of The Stove to come along. Our AGM is a friendly space offering a fascinating insight into how things work, find out what’s coming up and see how you can be involved in shaping our future direction.
The Stove’s Annual Gathering 2020-21
Review of the Year: A visual presentation of the work of The Stove over the last 15 months
The Stove Board’s report for 2020-21: A brief summary of the activities of Trustees over the last year, including the finances of the organisation.
Election of the Board of Trustees for the coming year: Every year the members of The Stove elect a board of trustees to run the organisation on their behalf. All members attending the AGM will be invited to vote electronically.
The Year Ahead: A presentation, by the Stove team, of what is coming up for 2021-2022 that we know about and some of the things in development. This will also include a discussion of some of the suggestions and issues raised by Stove members in the recent members survey
The Body of the Kirk: Breaking up into smaller groups for short discussions of some of the topics raised.
Throughout the Gathering people will be able to ask questions and make comments and everything will be answered in the meeting or afterwards depending on time available.
One long serving member of our Board of Trustees (Del Whitticase) is standing down at the AGM, but everyone else is standing for re-election. There are some spaces for new Trustees to stand, if you’d be interested in joining this great bunch of people please get in touch with our Orchestrator, Matt Baker (firstname.lastname@example.org) before the Gathering. Matt can tell you what is involved and how this all works. Del is a working artist, so we’d be very interested to hear from other artists from the community to be that voice on our Board; and we also have a particular need for a Trustee with legal experience.
We would like to make it possible for as many members as possible to participate in the process of electing the Board for next year – so if you cannot attend the AGM, but would like to participate, please fill out this form TSN AGM Voting Form and send it back to email@example.com
We hope to see as many of you as possible on the 22nd February!
‘For me, the question of democracy also opens up the question of what does it mean to be truly human. And it seems to me that we need to recognize that to develop the best humanity, the best spirit, the best community, there needs to be discipline, practices of exploring. How do you do that? How do we work together? How do we talk together in ways that will open up our best capacities and our best gifts?’
Looking back, looking forward
Our first foot into the New Year might seem like little has changed. With a new spike rolling in with the first snowfall of January, a third lockdown begins. And as we huddle further into our little worlds the news cycle spins and bounces off the walls with the discovery of a vaccine. And for now, we carry on.
2021 marks ten years of the Stove’s work. And we’re immensely proud of what’s been achieved in that time; from festivals and events to community buy-outs and river races. Together with our community, we’ve shaped a new vision not only for the arts but also for the vital role that communities and creativity play in the shaping of our town.
This year, we’re focused on sharing and learning together again so that we can build and support new and ambitious ideas from the voices hitherto unheard across the region.
As of December, the Stove has been focused on building a programme of new projects that will allow us to delve deeper into connecting communities, ideas and creativity together. We want to build new connections, routes and opportunities for learning across our membership and wider region.
This year we want to discover new voices, train and support new ideas as well as deepen our relationship to the places beyond the town center.
We will do this by:
Creating new spaces for people to learn, share and take part in conversations to map the future of our region.
Continuing to explore and promote bold and innovative projects that connect people in a time of social isolation.
Finding the new stories and storytellers to help us navigate a world spinning further out of reach.
Focusing on localism and power by providing the tools necessary for communities to realise and shape their identities and futures.
Our programme will stretch across sharing skills in digital communication to help communities and artists reach further and more meaningfully to people, regional projects to support bold ideas concerned with community ownership and place-making and a responsive series of events and conversations open to all.
We are committed to exploring, developing and sharing how we work with other places and people and to continue the conversation online through our new podcast channel and other outlets.
Throughout January the Stove will be planning and organizing for the year ahead, so we encourage you to keep an eye on our website and social media for announcements, job opportunities and activity.
We’d like to once again thank our membership and community who have helped to shape our ideas for the year ahead by taking part in our projects, events, consultations and conversations throughout 2020.
And to celebrate ten years of the Stove we’ll be sharing the stories of those who have come through our doors, sharing their favourite memories as well as finding out what lies next for us over the next 10 years.
Whilst the road ahead looks rough, we’re hopeful our work will cement a new vision of community and creativity that seeks to support a fairer society for all. We can’t wait to see what comes of it.
We’ve reached the end of our annual Stove Dark Time, following three weeks of conversations, discussions and reflecting on the past year. A key focus of this year’s Dark Time was incorporating into our plans for next year the feedback from our Community & Membership Survey. This survey helped us to learn more about our membership and what we mean to our wider community so that we can continue to consider better ways of working together. We received incredibly thoughtful and rich responses, which have laid the foundations for our team discussions during Dark Time. These will feed into our plans for next year in order help us make more informed decisions for the future of The Stove, Dumfries and the wider region. Although so much is still in the planning stage, here is an update on key areas we are exploring and developing:
We are looking at how our core team can be re-structured to support a deeper culture of opportunities for our membership to be involved in the direction of The Stove and, in particular, how the Curatorial Team model will evolve to achieve this.
We are reflecting on our commissioning process, the types of opportunities we support, the language we use to communicate opportunities and our processes for selection. We also want to explore ways in which we can open up our interview process and make it more accessible.
We want to increase the opportunity for interaction between members by creating spaces for our members to mingle such as networking days, coffee mornings, workshops and in general, more occasions for members to come and bounce ideas off the Stove team and each other.
We want to be ambitious in our programming and are exploring how we can remain responsive and targeted in an ever-changing environment. In particular we are continuing to look at The Stove’s regional focus, which was a core theme of membership responses to the survey. This work was already on-going with the Embers work, but is an even sharper focus for The Stove now.
We are deep in conversation about The Stove’s role as a learning organisation and are committed to exploring how this might work. We know already that we want to help increase opportunities for skills sharing and up-skilling across the region as well as to explore how members can learn from each other and will be taking this forward into next year and beyond.
While we are still in the early stages for much of what is mentioned above, we have already achieved a great deal through discussion and planning over the previous few weeks and are excited to build on this and see how a shared vision can be implemented. Dark Time has also helped us to touch base, reacquaint ourselves with our core values and place our members at the heart of what we do. We will keep members updated on progress on this through news updates on the website, members emails, the next AGM and specific events as appropriate. Your input into The Community & Membership Consultation was pivotal to this success and thank you again for taking the time to provide your thoughts.
This November is our annual Dark Time. Over the course of the next two weeks we’ll be working hard, thinking, planning and implementing some of the biggest projects we’ve ever dreamt up. It’s also a time for us to question our role, our processes, communication and vision fully so that we might step into the New Year resourced, ready and receptive to whatever it might bring.
Dark Time is a chance for the team to take a step back and reflect, to listen and plan for the year ahead. It is a significant and valuable process where we take a critical and constructive eye over everything we do, through an intensive series of conversations and workshops. We’ll discuss everything from projects and production, events and hospitality, festivals and gigs to the way we use our café, connect and work with our membership as well as explore further our role within the region, and to question, adapt and embed a vision for the organisation to share for the year coming.
2020, perhaps more so than previous years, has brought a lot into focus for us, as it has for many. From the delivery of our events, our digital programme and our engagement with new audiences and collaborators, as well our commitment to creating and sustaining grassroots activity which narrows the gaps (or gulfs) between art, creativity, government and community.
It’s been a tough year all round. But it stands as testament to the commitment we feel to what we do. We’ve had to re-imagine our entire 2020 programme for an online audience as well as manage projects and festivals throughout the country, alongside shaping the conversations on artists and communities at a national level. Rather than limiting our focus for the year coming, we believe this time to be invaluable in helping to shape new projects out-with Dumfries, and to re-fresh our ideas in shaping a fairer future for our region, through the sharing of art, ideas and gifts from the voices all too often unheard in our communities.
2020 if nothing else, has proven what is possible at a distance, such as working from home and the ability to connect with a broader spectrum of society than we ever thought possible. But it has deprived us all of the experiences which colour our lives, connect us with one another and help us to understand, navigate and continue in a world spinning further out of sight. But we’re far from pessimistic. Instead, we’ll think of this year as fallowed ground for something so much bolder, brighter and connected than we ever have been before.
Our recent membership survey has given us a lot to talk about. From our engagement with the community, the way we communicate, how diverse we are and how focused we ought to become in our vision. Our Dark Time this year is framed on the ideas, suggestions and feedback we have received from our members and wider community over this year, and we cannot thank you enough in helping to shape the Stove with us over this time. Whether it’s through a coffee in the café, filling out the membership survey, engaging in our programme of digital events or dropping us a line to check-in. Every conversation is meaningful, especially those of dissent.
The work here now is to recognise where we are and what we now need to do as an organisation so as to connect, inspire and grow new visions for our community in the wake of an international pandemic. A vision fully shared, that is inclusive, welcoming and principled. This may mean many things, and it may take strange and exciting new shapes, but as always and even more so, they are guided by the values shaped by, with and for the communities we belong to and serve.
Our Dark Time is framed around three conversations, and we’ll be sharing our progress with you through our social media and website as we go.
How do we define ourselves and what are the systems in place to let others participate and create with us.
How connected are we, and to whom?
We’re a growing organisation, how do we keep being connected to what’s happening around us?
Understanding our role as a learning organisation and how we engage with formal and informal education.
Working with our neighbors, partners and creative businesses throughout the region in further building a sustainable and connected network.
We want everyone to feel included, so do we do that? From working with the Deaf community to making the very building we operate in accessible to everyone, we’re making plans to engage with as many people as we can, sharing and learning as we go.
How we engage, from social media, blogs, and our website. We believe we’re an approachable organisation, so how do we build on this?
Engaging our membership. We want to create the spaces for our memberships to input into the running of the organisation as well as create the spaces needed to network with one another.
We want to centre community and creativity at the heart of the region’s future. Who else can we work with to do this?
In the wake of the pandemic, what can we learn from this and how do we create new work which resonates and belongs to our communities locally?
As a learning organisation, we’re building the skills and confidence of those we engage, and those we collaborate with. How do we expand on this? And can we offer more platforms, roles and opportunities for our community to shine?
Who owns what? What does ownership mean for our community, and how do we ensure everyone is involved? What does the shift from private to community-owned mean, and can what we learn, in order to change things at a higher level?
As always, if you have any thoughts that might help us in our direction, our (digital) door is always open. Drop us a message on our social media, ask to speak with someone at the café, or send an email along.
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It’s September already, and I’m still trying to pare away the feeling that this month is a fresh start – a miniature new year, though distinguished by routine, structure and peeled-from-the-packet stationery rather than Big Ben’s chimes, Auld Lang Syne and kisses. The thing is though, a year and a half out of education I’ve still ended up synchronising my ‘fresh starts’ with the end of summer. I’m not sure if this is by accident or coincidence (or, if you want to get philosophical, whether or not there’s even a difference). This time last year I’d just moved to Italy, and this year I’m in the process of moving back to Glasgow, which is a phrase I think I’ve said about a thousand times since I came back to Annan.
The recurring element of how my last five summers have ended, no matter what my plans have been, is suitcases I’ve stuffed my life into and usually an obligatory Ikea trip. The suitcase zippers burst a little along the edges, and anticipatory, so do I. This time around feels like it should be the same but I’m not so sure. Italy felt like an adventure, easy to romanticize. Working for shit pay and hopping from flat-to-flat takes a while to get old when there’s late summer heat and vino-tinto-tinted streets to meet you every time you finish a shift. And the last time I lived in Glasgow, I was a student – I don’t need to expand on why that combination worked.
Beginning my latest move to Glasgow comes in tandem with the end of my contract as blueprint100’s Associate Artist supporting its re-development. Working with blueprint100 this year, after my first experiences shaping its early structure and with four extra years of life behind me, has offered an opportunity to consider the continual motions of change we experience in early adulthood and how organisational support and belonging to a community can make it all feel a little bit more… easy. When I first started working with blueprint100 I was a teenager who’d just realised creative careers are possible, and now I’m an adult (I guess?) who’s a bit overwhelmed by just how many different ways there are to pursue creativity professionally.
A huge part of my role over the past few months has been consulting past blueprint100 participants on their experience and their professional and creative needs. Reflecting on how my own professional practice continues to evolve has been really interesting alongside speaking with other young adults going through the same process – I think we’re all very excited and very ready to take on creative careers, whether full-time or freelance or whatever else (the beauty of creative work is how flexible it can be). At the same time, we’re now living through a pandemic. One excited hand locks fingers with a frustrated/confused/kind of scared one. It’s been comforting for me to understand how similar our feelings and our needs are at this stage of our lives, and this has reaffirmed how important it is – at any stage of life, but especially during the ‘uncertain’ ones – to feel like you’ve got a community behind you.
Community, then, has been a core theme that needs to be considered as part of blueprint100’s identity following our re-development this year. As blueprint100 moves forward, its membership will be re-integrated into The Stove, as it was in its very early days. As part of The Stove, we’ll be centred on creative opportunities that are community-focussed – in alignment with The Stove’s own mission. I started writing this not wanting to mention the pandemic at all (I’ve already failed) but after 2020 I really do think isolation of any kind is the last thing any of us want – including in our creative practices. For a lot of the people I spoke to, myself included, it was blueprint100 & The Stove which introduced us to working creatively in a way that might just possibly make this region feel like the exciting place you want it to be. For a lot of us again, this is something that continues to direct our creative practices. It’s an approach that’s fresh and unique when you’ve previously only experienced creative opportunities which focus exclusively on yourself and the development of your skills as an individual.
Alongside community-focused practice, the future of blueprint100 is one of building an inclusive and accessible creative community. If you’ve spoken with me at all since June when I started the initial consultations, I’ll probably have mentioned ‘accessibility’ and ‘inclusivity’ so much its borderline annoying. I’m pretty sure the words are even on my CV. That’s fine though. I believe, especially where the arts are concerned, accessibility and inclusivity can’t be taken into account enough. Throwing yourself into creative spaces when you’re not even totally sure of your identity as a creative practitioner yet is hard! And there are barriers as well to even claiming this identity alone – if you’re working in a bar 5 days a week, tired when you’re not working, and the total amount of time you can dedicate to even thinking creatively amounts to like, maybe an hour here and there, it’s difficult to feel as though you’ve got any sort of creative identity at all.
By establishing a community of young creatives in the region – whether online or eventually in the real world – we can learn that actually, wherever we’re at right now is fine, and its normal. This doesn’t mean we all need to be in the same positions, but rather that we can see creative careers don’t tend to happen in a smooth, linear, get-a-degree-then-do-a-grad-scheme way. Accessibility and inclusivity within this community should go beyond just being buzzwords. It’s making sure people feel able to speak up and even interrogate its structure without possessing 4 years’ worth of art school language. It’s shaping the opportunities within it to suit its members, rather than the reverse. It’s creating access to the space and tech to get work done because maybe you can’t get a quiet space at home. It’s knowing that maybe you can’t swap shifts to get involved with something, but people get it, and other opportunities will still be there whenever you are. No judgment.
Something I’ve gained from re-evaluating blueprint100’s role in its participants creative and professional development is a better acceptance of my own. I mentioned earlier the vast means through which you can pursue a creative practice, and as much as I said this can be overwhelming it’s also been quite reassuring. Being able to work creatively full-time in the early stages of your practice is a position of privilege, or very good luck. As with many other positions of privilege, not possessing it can have some kind of weird stigma attached. I studied Fashion Design at uni, and felt guilty every summer that I chose not to try and get an unpaid London internship. In the first months after graduating I felt guilty for not applying to graduate jobs that would cover my commute costs and little else. Since then I’ve learned that honestly? I love fashion, but I love being able to eat and pay my bills even more. Van Gogh gets touted as an icon of ‘starving artist’-hood but its reductive to think his work would be any less beautiful if he didn’t have the struggles of simply surviving to deal with. Poverty is only poetic to people who’ve not experienced it.
I guess what I’m getting at with that paragraph is that actually, working full-time in a factory and part-time in a creative role has actually been pretty good. Tiring, but good. It’s totally possible to continue the trajectory of your career while earning enough to live, and day jobs really aren’t as bad as you’re led to believe when you’re still maintaining some sort of constructive creative practice. I originally wasn’t going to move back to Glasgow until I had like… my absolute dream first graduate job. I’ve since decided that it’s equally completely cool to take a 50/50 approach to building my career instead – I’m going to be working part-time in clothing manufacture again, and spend the rest of my time working creatively on a freelance basis. It’s pretty exciting, a little like dropping everything to move to the city and become an artist but with the added security of actually having a predictable income every month.
I seem to have a talent for taking these blog posts a lot further than they’re probably intended to go (blame lockdown and reduced opportunities for rambling to people in real life). If you need a tl;dr for this – blueprint100 has developed, grown, and changed in the past few months at a faster pace than it ever has before. I have too.
‘The High Street is somewhere we thought we knew, and now it’s different, it’s elsewhere.’
When the lockdown struck, all activity at the Stove was put on hold and what quickly emerged was a project titled Homegrown, gathering and sharing the conversations, creativity and new narratives being drawn in real time during the Lockdown by Stove members and community.
Elsewhere is a research project that looks to locate creative practice in the High Street of Dumfries as means of exploring public space during a time when we as a community are responding to, and recovering from the effects of COVID on our sense of place.
We will be experimenting with new forms of communal experience, gathering and exchange – investigating the unfamiliar in the local, coming together whilst social distancing, and creating a space to share, reflect and create new ideas for public space going forward.
Elsewhere aims to be about low-key testing, pop up investigations for small, transient audiences. We want to explore pausing whilst out beyond the confines of our homes, and at all times of day, inviting audiences to make tentative steps back into their town centres and high streets.
As part of this project we have invited three of our homegrown artists Éoghann MacColl, Helen Walsh and Andy Brooke who initially took part in our micro-commission opportunity to further develop their proposals to appear in the town centre. Each of our three artists contributed to the homegrown project in a variety of ways, and inspired us to re-imagine our future public spaces. Each artist will be presenting their work over the course of the Autumn, from shop window exhibitions to large scale paste-ups, with initiations to respond from our wider community.
We will also be looking to bring some of the other works developed during homegrown into the town centre, from both our members commissions, and wider community of artists who responded to the homegrown themes of open heartedness, solidarity, insight and perseverance.
The Dumfries Signwriting Squad are also working in partnership with the Midsteeple Quarter to develop a visual identity and signposting for elsewhere, keep your eyes peeled for some of this appearing in the High Street in the coming weeks!
Elsewhere will contribute towards Atlas Pandemica: Maps to a Kinder World, through the research and learning carried out throughout the project. Find out more about Atlas Pandemica here.
Elsewhere is curated by Katie Anderson, and includes the work of artists and Stove members, Éoghann MacColl, Helen Walsh, Andy Brooke and the Dumfries Signwriting Squad. Each artist initially took part in the homegrown project during the lockdown and continue to develop these conversations as part of Elsewhere.
We at The Stove have been focusing on what it means to be a “network” and how we can have a deeper conversation with ALL our members as well as our community. With this in mind we hope to learn more about our membership, what it means to be a member of The Stove Network and what we mean to the wider community so that we can continue to consider better ways of working together.
How do you see yourself in relation to The Stove? What would you like to get out of being a member? What would you like to contribute to the network now and in the future? What can we do better?This knowledge will add to the information that we gather through our work and contribute to making more informed decisions for the future of The Stove, Dumfries and the wider region. By completing this survey you will be helping us to ensure The Stove stays relevant for its community and membership.
You can choose to remain anonymous, or enter our draw to win one of three £75 prizes. If you do enter the draw, one member of staff will collate the responses and will still anonymise the results for consideration by the rest of the team.
This is The Stove’s response to the call-out from the Cross-party Committee on Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs on the impact of covid-19 to Scotlands Culture and Tourism sectors and how our sector should be supported at this time.
We see it as part of our role in the region to advocate for those working in the creative sector in D+G but there is strength in numbers so we strongly encourage others to send in responses so that as many voices can be heard as possible – link here
Response submitted on the 17.8.2020
This response comes from our experience as a community focused organisation in the High Street of Dumfries, ongoing discussion with the freelance creative community of Dumfries and Galloway, the small groups and businesses we work with and as many of the national discussions and emerging reports we can sanely be part of.
Q – how best the industry can be supported during this unprecedented time.
We need urgent support for the freelance creative economy in Dumfries and Galloway in the form of a) paid work opportunities for freelancers, b) support for local arts infrastructure to effectively support freelancers and c) support for a network that can learn and share learning from this activity.
This paper develops a series of proposals for support and a long term vision through an understanding of the cultural sector that has been brought into sharp focus by COVID.
We need devolved local delivery of support that takes into account the monumental variety of work and structures that produce and deliver it within our sector at a grassroots level
We need a long-term VISION that embraces innovations in how we value cultural and creative work – wider social benefit, place-based initiatives and community wealth building, localised power and delivery
We need to talk about what we have missed, not just what we have done, and be clear on who has not been heard or supported
We need to be honest about the “real” long-term impact of support, who will not benefit and why. We need to share and recycle ALL support given – if we invest into spaces/buildings/large institutions for example, how can they then pay that forward to others in the sector and their surrounding community through resource, space, knowledge sharing, local expertise and procurement and be held accountable to that?
Fundamentally we need a grassroots and sector-led approach led by the people who make creative work and the local communities it should benefit and be a part of
OUR FOCUS IN DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY
Our building and community is a non-residential and transient community. At the very start of lockdown it became clear that others were better placed than us to provide the type of community care roles that we have seen a lot of creative place-based groups and organisations take in the field creative community-led work we operate in.
Our focus became the immediate and devastating impact on our local community of creative freelancers who are the pillars that hold up the region’s creative sector – small creative businesses, local projects, independent festivals and events across SW Scotland. The freelancers in our community do not have a platform in national conversations on arts, culture and their economic impact and value, advocating for them as well as providing work opportunities and networking support became our way to act.
We have been approaching this twofold – by taking part in as many of those local, regional and national conversations as we have capacity for and actively working with our membership and creative community so that the grassroots of the sector can be as loud and visible as possible in shaping how we move forward.
For our small acts of solidarity and creativity see our Homegrown Blog
Atlas Pandemica is a new project, like Homegrown, specifically developed in response to COVID, it commissions artists to gather and react to stories of the pandemic’s impact on often unheard voices in our communities and develop creative visioning for going forward into a more socially inclusive future.
It is this grassroots workforce in creative and cultural activity alongside local groups and organisations that we have seen as key collaborators and indicators of the resilience and innovation by local folk and communities.
Our long-term, strategic aim here is to support a regional network of Creative Placemaking activity that helps build and sustain a robust creative workforce whilst responding to real need at local community level.
The creative and cultural sector that is embedded in communities is under-represented across our national agencies and as such also lacking in engagement and relative collection of data in terms of their wider economic impact for our places and communities.
The Stove’s recent Embers report, April 2020, highlighted the necessity of supporting community-led, localised action and the lack of understanding of the value of this work to healthy economies. The grants for self-employed creatives were welcome but they do little to consider and understand the expense needed to continue to work as a freelance worker in our industry (support for three months of living/work expenses in Scotland coming out lower than the UK average of £2900, under £1000 a month) SEISS Statistics.
” Performers and other creative practitioners like me earn on average £10k a year and do not fit within the Chancellor’s characterisation of those left out of the SEISS. It is claimed that those who are excluded represent just 5% of the self-employed workforce, earning on average £200k – this is very clearly not the experience of the more than 40% of Equity members who have not been able get support so far.” – Equity letter to Government
Excluded UK estimates that 3 million freelancers across sectors have been excluded from any support.
This needs to be courageously recognised so that it can be addressed in the plans we now take forward. Through our experience this includes, but is not limited to, the following groups and activities in cultural and creative industries:
Young emerging and those not registered as self-employed
Vulnerable groups and minorities
Informal learning programmes and groups
Independent festivals and events
“Creative workers–one of the more vulnerable sectors of the workforce–are already seeing devastating impacts on their income, not only in turnover terms, but also in their charitable contributions and sponsorships. Leaving behind the more fragile part of the sector could cause irreparable socio-economic damage.” – p5 Oxford Economics Report – The projected economic impact of cvoid-19 on the UK Creative Industries 15.6.2020
Our ideas around this add to the pool of information, research and experience coming from creative freelancers across the globe, community groups and workers, academics, think tanks etc. to justify a more holistic and creative approach to economic recovery that makes use of our community groups and organisations (Community Wealth Building, Carnegie Trust on Wellbeing, Wellbeing Economy, Anchor Organisations). We need the investment to start making it happen and the courage to do it in a localised, place-based way.
Through our work at The Stove we have seen the impact that can be had when the ground is made fertile and people are given the agency to develop and grow things locally.
A CULTURE COLLECTIVE
We see an opportunity to devolve resource and power to local people by supporting creative freelancers and groups and organisations that are already working as part of their communities to develop locally responsive projects that can also take advantage of cross sector opportunity for long-term benefit.
“What if we were to pay out of work people in the Creative and Community sectors a fair wage to work in their local communities to start new projects (or build on things started in lockdown) – these could be cultural projects like choirs, writer’s groups etc. but they could also be environmental projects or new social enterprises. Our skill set is to ‘make shit happen’, we are producers, innovators and entrepreneurs! If this National Task Force was to get things started then the national agencies and funders could come in behind and help take things to the next level and, before you know it you have communities making their places, economies and health better.“
“The premise is simple – our Embers report has clearly shown the pivotal role played by creative practitioners and small creative organisations to initiate and maintain momentum in placemaking projects. These may start with cultural projects, but quickly develop into new social enterprises, asset-based and environmental initiatives. In short – do some cultural pump-priming in a community setting and the payback in terms of community resilience, economic development and people’s wellbeing is incredible.“
We believe support needs to align towards a clear VISION that can be shaped by the changing needs of the sector and is representative of the wide variety of work this includes – notably the less heard voices of creative freelancers, voluntary and community-led groups and organisations. It needs to be local, be a collaboration between the sector and our communities and feed the local innovation that is already there.
“The COVID-19 emergency has let us see what only the state can do – set up hospitals; fund research into a vaccine; shift resources to the front line – and what only communities can do – mobilise and respond quickly by building on existing relationships; pool collective resources; think creatively about what assets are available.”
“While the Government is able to float ideas for action, these can only become a reality through collaboration with the arts and creative sector. For example, the idea of a National Arts Force needs all of us in culture to come together and work with other bodies to shape a plan that can make this happen…only we the creative practitioners on the ground know how this could work…we must take our place at the discussion table for the sake of everyone who works in our sector and for society at large.” – https://thestove.org/creativity-and-community-as-part-of-the-national-recovery/
We have the knowledge, we have the tools, we have the live projects that are working and the historical examples of what activities and investments are impactful in a deeper, wider sense of economic resilience and wellbeing, now is the time to stop pitching our systems to big business and outdated ideas of ‘growth’ as a measure of societal success.
The diagram below is The Stove’s submission to The Advisory Group for Economic Recovery for Scotland. It is just the first germ of an idea and we are sharing it now in the hope of generating further discussion with others in the Creative and Community sectors.
The premise is simple – our Embers report has clearly shown the pivotal role played by creative practitioners and small creative organisations to initiate and maintain momentum in placemaking projects. These may start with cultural projects, but quickly develop into new social enterprises, asset-based and environmental initiatives. In short – do some cultural pump-priming in a community setting and the payback in terms of community resilience, economic development and people’s wellbeing is incredible.
In the current climate we have thousands of creative practitioners with little prospect of working in the short and medium term. We have communities who have experienced working together for mutual benefit during lockdown and we have many brilliant resources (theatres, sports centres etc) that are lying temporarily idle. What if we were to pay out of work people in the Creative and Community sectors a Basic Income to work in their local communities to start new projects (or build on things started in lockdown) – these could be cultural projects like choirs, writers groups…but they could also be environmental projects or new social enterprises. Our skill set is to ‘make shit happen’ we are producers, innovators and entrepreneurs! If this National Task Force was to get things started then the national agencies and funders could come in behind and help take things to the next level and, before you know it you have communities making their places, economies and health better.
It may sound mad, but something not so very different was successful in the US as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1934 and again in 1940 in Britain with the Council for Encouragement of Arts and Music which saw a force of musicians staring choirs and orchestras all over the country during wartime.
That’s as far as we’ve got til now – whaddyfink? Let us know and help us shape the idea if you think it has legs..
A major report into Creative Placemaking by The Stove Network has recently been released. It presents an in-depth investigation into the importance, impact and potential influence of Creative Placemaking for the local economy and wellbeing of communities in South of Scotland.
EMBERS report aims to ignite creative and culturally-led regeneration by exploring the work and experience in Dumfries & Galloway and helping to define a joined-up vision for work in Creative Placemaking for the South of Scotland. Embers presents Creative Placemaking as a collaborative practice that uses the tools of arts, culture and creativity to work as part of our communities, responding to local needs to build a better quality of place.
In this time when community responses and collective action is at the front of everyone’s minds, there is a long history of community activity in the South of Scotland with people coming together to look at the future of their towns and villages. A common factor across many of these projects is the involvement and often leadership of creative people that are already embedded in their communities and collaborative activity with the arts, culture and creative industries.
“What we hope is that the Embers Report will be a map, advocacy document and proposal for support needed to further advance the really great work in placemaking that we can see happening in our communities. People are doing amazing things as part of their communities, bringing all sorts of life experience, expertise and ideas together to make a better place for everyone who lives there. Ideas don’t always work but when they do they are making a real difference in people’s lives.”
– Katharine Wheeler, Curatorial Team Member and lead on the Embers report.
With the coming of the Borderlands Growth initiative and South of Scotland Enterprise, there’s an unprecedented opportunity for the South of Scotland to create genuinely bespoke development strategies, suited to its unique character. Creative Placemaking should be at the heart of this through the way that communities are coming together to develop new social enterprises and place-based projects.
“We hope to continue to support Embers to strengthen local government collaboration with community groups and local enterprise, to enable communities to improve their own wellbeing according to local priorities.”
– Pippa Coutts, Research and Development consultant for Carnegie Trust UK.
The Embers report puts forward a series of clear recommendations which contributors hope will be taken forward by regional and national agencies operating in the South of Scotland.
Effective Creative Placemaking engages communities at grassroots level, building on the existing culture, activity and relationships in each place. It brings people, communities, groups and organisations together to co-develop better strategies for our places. It uses Creative Industries and spans Community Development sectors contributing to long-term social outcomes for our communities.
The Creative Industries play an important role in our towns, particularly at this time. It is vital that our region supports its creative sector, which has been such a success story in recent years. There are currently more people working in the Creative Industries in the South of Scotland than there are in agriculture, yet many of the people working in this industry are freelance and self-employed and the COVID-19 crisis has taken a terrible toll on these important local businesses. The Embers report presents a road map for integrating creative businesses into communities and the future inclusive economy of our area.
“How can we, as a creative agency for change, make things slightly different here.”
– Lucy MacLeod, Creative Director for Outpost Arts, Langholm
The Embers report is available to download by here: Embers Report