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Nithraid 2021

Wow… can you believe it’s been two weeks since Nithraid 2021?!

It was a spirit-filled, action-packed day, with lots to do and enjoy despite the wet weather!

We’re so pleased that everyone who took part in the river race was able to do so safely, braving the elements to give us a race to remember.

We also had some great activities taking place at Mill Green, with help from Dumfries Fountain Project, Creative Spaces, TS Beall, Heather Molloy of PAMIS and Simon Lidwell of Wordsmithcrafts.

It was brilliant to see some old friends and new faces taking part in the river race and visiting Mill Green, which really put into perspective how fortunate we were to finally be able to facilitate the race after a long, two-year wait. 

“Nithraid this year was a triumph in the face of the double adversities of Covid and the weather, we had a record turnout of boats and all the participants, as ever, were thrilled by the unique experience of journeying up our beautiful river on a big tide. The current context meant that we reached out wider than ever before through digital platforms meaning that people who cannot normally attend the event were brought into the heart of things – we also catered for people with multiple additional support needs and the D/deaf community with activities on site…”

Heather Molloy (PAMIS) as The Spirit of the Nith
Simon Lidwell (Wordsmithcrafts) as The River Rambler

…Nithraid is about bringing people together to celebrate the role of our River Nith in the town and region The Stove continues to find new ways to fulfil this mission and open up the fun to everyone in our community, demonstrating that community spirit for our visitors.”Matt Baker, Orchestrator

We’d like to say a huge, special thanks to the following individuals and groups who helped us to bring together Nithraid 2021:

All our partners and funders, as always, for their support: Historic Environment Scotland, Creative Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Council

Mark Zygadlo, as always, for ongoing support with organising and facilitating Nithraid

Hamish Denerley for lead commentary during our livestream
Winston Denerley for BSL interpretation and livestream commentary

BattleStations for their technological support and facilitating our livestream

Heather Molloy from PAMIS Scotland and Simon Lidwell of Wordsmith Crafts for their immersive and tactile storytelling and performance of Source to Sea

Dumfries Fountain Project for their creative workshops

TS Beall, in collaboration with the Scottish Showpeople, for the informative and insightful signposting around the history of the suspension bridge

PAMIS for the supply of the ‘Changing Places’ toilet, helping us to provide accessible facilities at Mill Green

Only Foods and Sauces for providing on-site refreshments at Mill Green

Our volunteers for providing help on the day – you’re stars!

Barbour Hall at Glencaple for giving us a dry, warm place to brief and prepare all those involved in the race

Annan Harbour Action Group and their safety boats for ensuring the safety of those involved in the race

Andy Jardine for the beautiful on-site photography at Glencaple and Mill Green

…and last, but definitely not least, a HUGE thank you to all that made the race possible by taking part and those who joined us at Mill Green or tuned in to our livestream. 

It’s safe to say Nithraid’s return this year was a success, and we’re so excited for what’s to come in Nithraid’s future.

From all at The Stove Network, thank you, stay safe and have fun out there!

Until next time.

#Nithraid2021

For Enjoyment: Fountain Sketch Walk

August 21 @ 2:00 pm 4:00 pm

Dumfries Fountain Project and For Enjoyment present
a Fountain Sketch Walk

Starting from the Mill Green, including a short walk to The Fountain on the High Street

Join Frank Hayes from For Enjoyment in a guided drawing workshop. Learn interesting facts and a brief history of the fountain with the Dumfries Fountain project, then enjoy a tutorial on sketching quick observations of various historical parts of our beautiful town. No drawing skills necessary, it’s For Enjoyment!

All equipment provided, just bring yourself.

Secure your free ticket here:

Mill Road
Dumfries,

Dumfries Fountain: Creative Writing Picnic

August 21 @ 12:00 pm 1:30 pm

Watery Words: Creative Writing Picnic

Continuing the Dumfries Fountain project series of workshops and activities, artists Lizzie Parsons and Emily Tough from We Agree on Eggs invite you to take part in their guided Creative Writing Picnic, inspired by water. Spend a relaxing afternoon by the river and create your own short story, poetry or verse.

Please bring your picnic and something to sit on.

Workshop hosts Emily (left) and Lizzie (right)

Secure your free ticket here:

Mill Road
Dumfries,
Categories
Musings

Source to Sea: A Reflection

Post by Nithraid Producer, Sal Cuddihy

Nithraid River Festival has been running as an annual event for the past eight years and I have had the absolute privilege of being the producer for the last five of them.  Last year’s event saw flood, rain and high winds pushing our team to the limit with adapting last minute to still deliver as much of the event as we physically could. After 2019 we thought, “Well, we’re not going to get anything more difficult than that”. Boy, were we wrong.

When the news hit in March that the entire world was under threat from a global pandemic, we were left with complete uncertainty and dread – much like the rest of the world. What is this thing? Are people going to be safe? How long will it last? When did lockdown and furlough become common words that we use in almost every conversation?

It became apparent very quickly to our team that even though the festival was scheduled to be in August, there was a high chance that the event would have either have to be cancelled completely or we were going to have to try and adapt the festival to a digital format – so we decided to flip Nithraid on its head. We looked at the core values of the festival and the reasons why we do it and who do we do it for?


To cut a long story short – we came to the conclusion that we do it to celebrate the River Nith. We celebrate its history and uses, we celebrate its beauty and we use it to inspire our creativity. We use it to teach our children about the wildlife and environment (special mention goes out to Huffy the Heron!) – but most of all we use it to connect with communities. With all of this in mind, we created the Nith inspired ‘Source to Sea’ project, exploring not just Dumfries but the entire River Nith and the communities that it travels through. Throughout lockdown, it was obvious we were on the right path as all over social media people were photographing the river on their daily walks and were appreciating it as they never had before.

Once we had a concept, the challenging part was trying to figure out how we were going to share all of these elements of the river as well as creating and sharing activities for families and children who were finding themselves stuck at home with little to do. We were delighted to have one of our fantastic funders, the Holywood Trust, on board with our reimagined River Festival. The Holywood Trust were a huge support to Nithraid and our entire team throughout the whole project, and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without them – thank you! This scale of online activity was very much new territory but I have the privilege to work with much more tech savvy individuals than myself and we were able to come together to figure out how to present our festival online. I think as it stands, we are now in Version 652 of the project as it turns out there was more than one problem that arose on a very regular basis. I give them all my love and respect for not running away at Version 150 (I will do the embarrassing shout out at the end!)

As we come to the end of our journey, we’ll be pulling all over the research together and sharing it with you in a beautifully designed map, created for us by local artists and graphic designer, Jamie Stryker. This map is the culmination of everyone’s incredibly hard work over the past 6 months. We’ll also be sharing Hugh McMillan’s lovely Source to Sea poem, where he has a dedicated verse for each area that we explored.

One of the hardest things about the lockdown was the difficulty in being able to research and that we were unable to reach out communities and go out and explore. But now we have information, footage and stories about the River Nith that you can use to learn about these communities yourself. I hope the project does what we set out to do and celebrates the river that connects us and brought so many people a sense of calm in amongst the chaos.

Big shout out time!

And a special thanks to Derry and Greg from BattleStations who trekked through the Carsphairn hills with  a lot of kit to try and find footage of the source of the Nith – which turns out wasn’t where I told them, sorry! You got the shot though!

All of those that took the time to chat to us as we were researching the content. One of my favourite moments was when Bob Clements told us the story of the Thornhill’s Rock Festival on the back of a lorry that was plugged into a house!

Finally, a massive thank you to the team that has held this all together. You have done so much more than these basic titles I have written but I have rambled enough and don’t want you thinking I have gone soft.

  • Rob Henderson – web design and master of tech-like witchcraft
  • Kirstin McEwan – marketing and social media queen that makes this stuff look easy!! It’s not!
  • Ruaridh Thi- Smith – project support and all round support to my sanity.
  • Liam Morrison- Gale – community lead & ultimate research Jedi Master
  • Jamie Stryker – Graphic designer and hero that makes the best maps in the whole wide world!
  • Martin O’Neil – Programmer, Word Wizard and keeper of the creativity.
  • Graham Rooney –  Stove Project manager and dude that keeps every single one of us from spontaneous combustion.

Thank you all! All the best,

Sal Cuddihy
Nithraid Producer

Categories
News

Hello 2020 at The Stove Network!

2019 was an incredible year for us at The Stove – we had the opportunity to work with an amazing host of people and groups, and to share a wide range of events and projects, both in-house and led by other organisations and artists.
Our programme for 2020 is starting to fill up fast and we’re gearing up for another jam-packed year of art, community and creativity at 100 High Street, aiming to encourage, gather, educate and inspire. We thought we’d share a few projects that we’re looking forward to in the coming year – so get those diaries oot!
 

National Theatre of Scotland: Just Start Here

Next month, we’re delighted to be working with National Theatre of Scotland to bring you a two-day festival of brand new work from a wide range of Scottish artists. ‘Just Start Here’ features bold new work and will take over shop-fronts, working men’s clubs and the streets of Dumfries this February.
Throughout the day, intimate performances and provocative talks will take place in between a bite to eat and time to mull ideas over. The evening will see live music performances, engaging conversation and a chance to experience something unique.
The lineup includes Nic Green, Behavin’, Two Destination Language, Ashanti Sharda, Stuart Macpherson, Emma Dove & Pete Smith, Stewart Laing, Mele Broomes, SUE ZUKI plus much more to be announced! To keep up to date please visit the National Theatre of Scotland Facebook or website by clicking here.
 

Dumfries Music Conference: The Plaza

Inspired by initiatives set up throughout the country, DMC launched ‘The Plaza’ at their seventh annual conference back in October. The Plaza is a roving music venue, dedicated to the takeover of the under-utilised, the abandoned, the ruinous and the unusual.

The first Plaza took place at Soul Soup on Irish Street, with live performances from Quiche, Megan Airlie, Prussia Snailham and the Lutras, with the second Plaza taking place just before Christmas at the Secret Gallery on Friars Vennel. A special Christmas themed evening with live performances from Kate Kyle, Steven Thomas and Callum Easter.
With plans for a Plaza event every second month, the DMC team are gearing up for a year of scoping out the hidden music venues of Dumfries and providing a platform for bands to showcase their talent in a unique space. Keep up to date with the latest Plaza info on the DMC Facebook here or visit their website by clicking here.
  

Lowland

It’s now over two years since the Lowland project began with its first writer-in-residence, Stuart Paterson whose work with the Stove generated a mass of over 500 written postcard responses from poetry, short fiction, illustration and observations of life in a town in the midst of a transition. The project, first conceived as a means by which local people and visitors could contribute to a new contemporary portrait of Dumfries, has now since quietly developed with a core team of emerging writers and theatre-makers, contributing, devising and workshopping in the heart of the High Street. Now, entering into the rehearsal stages for its debut production in late March. For more information on the Lowland project and to find out how you might like to take part please email martin@thestove.org

The Stove Café: Community Table

The Stove Café is the social heart of our network and, following a refurbishment last year, we’re looking forward to an exciting year of events and projects in the café and working with our community on a more regular basis. The Stove Café team are currently putting plans in place for a regular ‘Community Table’ where community groups and organisations can make use of the café space for regular meet ups, discussions or informal gatherings in a comfortable space with a hot drink and delicious food from local producers.

Nithraid 2020

Save the date – Nithraid is back! Dumfries’ annual River Festival returns to the Mill Green on Saturday 22ndAugust to celebrate our beloved River Nith with our community and partners. Nithraid is the biggest event in the Stove calendar, and with our eighth one approaching this year we’re looking at our biggest one yet – including opportunities to work with organisations, artist commissions, local food, live music performances, art installations and so much more!

For Nithraid 2020, we are looking forward to welcoming Dorothy Lawrenson to the team as our poet-in-residence. Dorothy will be researching the River Nith and its role in the life of the local community. The resulting work will be a collection of poems and podcasts, with each one concentrating on a specific aspect of the river.
Make sure you keep up to date with all our Nithraid news over on the Nithraid Facebook page here.
 

Embers – Igniting Culturally-led Regeneration across Dumfries and Galloway

Last year we had conversations with and gathered information from 21 groups and organisations from across Dumfries and Galloway with additional feedback and input from regional and national support bodies and agencies. We wanted to find out directly from groups and organisations working successfully as part of their communities more about the strengths and challenges of their work and build a picture of effective creative place making in Dumfries and Galloway and its impact for our places.

We are excited to share what has emerged from our consultation work and help build a case for a holistic approach to community focused enterprise and economic wellbeing, with the Embers going live at the end of February.

Categories
News

Nithraid 2019

2019 Nithraid will definitely be a year to remember for us at The Stove. After months of planning and a huge amount of hard work by our fabulous Nithraid team, the decision to pull our annual River Festival had to be made the day before the main event to keep everyone safe in the face of terrible weather, and a complete deluge of rain. However, we are SO grateful for everyone who arrived to pitch in and lend a hand for an unbelievable turn around.

We were able to bring elements of the festival into the town centre, including workshops with Creative Futures, Freelance Ranger, Battlestations and the Dumfries American Hunters Football Team. The Salty Coo Procession roamed the streets of Dumfries town centre and was led by Blueprint100.

In the 3 months leading up to this year’s Nithraid, the Blueprint100 team worked with various local community groups and organisations to create banners and flags to used in the procession celebrating the people of Dumfries with their ‘powerful communities’ theme.

The live music took place in the Stove Cafe with fantastic performances from Freya Cloy, Ra, Eddie and Isla of Tiderays, Corrie Russell and Kate Kyle. Nithlight provided a beautiful close to the day on the Mill Green once the river had died down.The Friday evening provided a night to remember too0 – with an amazing array of local performers turning out to participate in the Big Nithraid Warm-Up Brave New Words, followed by a ceilidh from Reidhle which had every person in the room up dancing all night long.

This would not have been possible without so much hard work – thank you to everyone over the weekend who was able to lend a hand, and who came along to our event regardless – to all those in the procession, and who took part in the events, who re-arranged workshops and pitches to join us on the High Street – thank you!

There was a lovely atmosphere, and the sun even made a few brief appearances.Thank you to everyone for their support during Nithraid –  it has been a joyful and affirming reminder of why we all put the hours in to make these events happen – even in the face of very challenging conditions.