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Anne Waggot Knott in conversation with community artist, Maya Rose Edwards

Written by Anne Waggot Knott

In preparation for ‘Raise the Sails’, a community festival celebrating a new vision for Stranraer’s harbour area and marking the culmination of public art project, ‘Harbour’ by artist Maya Rose Edwards, I asked Maya to share some of their reflections on the project so far. 

Maya, you’ve embedded yourself so joyously and emphatically in the town. Talk to me about Stranraer’s incredible community.

Where do I start? They’re marvellous. They stick together in a very fundamental, tangible way, a result of living somewhere on the edge of things. But despite the wonderful togetherness I’ve also found pockets of futility – people have big ideas and are very impassioned, but there’s a shared sense of being on the wrong side of history. 

The younger generation faces real challenges and lack of opportunity. But, encouragingly, they have a vision of what the place could be, not blighted by what it was or hasn’t been. They’ve got an energy about them which is really exciting. Allowing space for young, positive voices is essential for community regeneration. 

Stranraer is a hub for a lot of surrounding villages. There’s a distinct rurality and sometimes a certain disconnection with the rest of Dumfries and Galloway. But this also generates pride and determination: “Stranraer is brilliant and we’ll make sure you know that, and if you don’t accept it we’ll keep it for ourselves.” Fine, and fair enough!

There are pockets of potential change; people with great ideas, inspiration, a lot of fight. People that show up, show an interest, are hardworking and inquisitive. The Urban Collective, the Men’s Shed, Stevie at the fishing shop, Vivienne at the Community Re-Use Shop, young people from the college. There are so many more… I feel like I’ve developed real, reciprocal relationships in the town, proper friendships. 

One thing that strikes me is that there are lots of people and organisations developing plans for the future, but they need to talk to each other. Hopefully I’ve started helping them make those connections. 

Your project brims with connectivity but also has a basis in activism and disruption. How can this light the touchpaper for change?

For a community with a historical legacy of being let down again and again, there’s only so much fight that they can conjure from within themselves. For me, the ability to make a mark in this respect was so important. 

The idea of occupying space, either with an artwork or your body, can generate change. Parts of Stranraer have suffered from the management of decline, but it’s happening so slowly that the locals sometimes miss it. Creating unexpected things to look at, things that catch your eye or that you can interact with, generates a strong shift in people. It’s my job to equip people with the tools to do that themselves, help them see that standing up for a change they want to see is always an option.

There’s something about being an outsider that makes this possible. Sometimes you need someone with a fresh perspective to come and say, how about we try this?

One of the biggest markers was when we spraypainted the Harbour wall mural. It kicked up some fuss, but it turned a dial. It generated conversation, which generated understanding, then finally an expectation about what’s coming next. It could have failed, but it didn’t. Tiptoeing around wasn’t going to work. I had to set an example that risky moves are ok. 

Risk is an important tool. When a community doesn’t feel in control there’s a sense of disempowerment. By choosing a risky action you choose the level of control for yourself rather than having it put upon you. It’s also a great way to get a big response from a lot of people and get the conversations started.

What are your project highlights?

The high points are unquestionably about bringing people together.  

The graffiti with the college kids, one of the very first things we did together. Their sense of pride was evident, marking a real moment of arrival. Similarly, we’ll be marking my departure with the festival in April. 

The Sea Witch sculpture day was great. Everyone brought different perspectives but a common purpose, which then flowed outwards into the community. Looking through the beachcombed objects was important in a cross-generational way – older people had memories about the pottery and plastic soldiers, young people recognised the vapes as part of their own history. The sea collects and spits out these stories, mixed and matched and collaged together – everyone’s past, present and future is there. Creating a character from those lost objects was a beautiful thing to see.

Making sails at The Hub was fabulous fun! We had people of all ages helping each other out. Kids that wouldn’t normally be in a room together. Older women who said art drop-ins should be prescribed on the NHS, that it’s like therapy. Tiny, naughty tots just running around painting themselves. We had a blast.

None of the above means anything without quiet moments though. Someone brings you a cuppa. The hello-in-Tesco moments. The guy in the chippie asking how the project is going. Like having a baker or a teacher, every town should have a community artist. Creativity has a huge impact on people and places. 

What have been your biggest challenges?

There have been just as many challenges as highlights! In simple terms, sometimes you just want to shake people who think change is impossible. That sense of futility being so ingrained, to the extent that it influences others too. Trying to unpick it has been a real challenge. But I also have a lot of respect and understanding for it.

At the very least, what seeds can I sow? I’m planting seeds in the middle of that knot of futility. But it’s a massive responsibility and has to be undertaken really carefully.

It’s also been hard to bring to attention things that people firmly don’t want to look at. That brings vulnerabilities. You can see these things very, very brightly when you come from elsewhere but dealing with them sensitively is often difficult. 

I see you working with other people’s vulnerabilities but in order to do that you need to make yourself vulnerable as an artist too, don’t you? It’s reciprocal.

Yes. You’ve got to expose bits of yourself too, so it’s an exchange. That’s how I’ve built trust and relationships. I really enjoy it and it’s integral to my practice. 

Stranraer is a community partly built on migration which is an interesting dynamic to work with. You have the embedded generational impacts over time and then you have people who come here and see it with fresh eyes as a great place to live. Once those people have a conversation with each other, possibilities emerge.  

The way the waterfront is cut off from the town by the road is a huge problem. You can’t just wander down to the waterfront, you have to actively cross several lanes of traffic. Those historical planning decisions have massive impacts when considering public spaces. 

Interestingly, not everybody sees themselves as a community of the sea; there’s also a challenge in the disconnect between the people who use the water and the people who use the land. Sometimes they don’t realise that they’re each other’s greatest asset and many of them want the same things. It’s like a glass wall, and nobody wants to be the one to make the first move. So there have been occasions when it’s my job to make the first move on behalf of everybody and nobody.

That’s interesting, can you expand on that a bit more?

For people originally from Stranraer, the water is a historically dangerous place due to sea waves from the ferries. It wasn’t always about having a good time and mucking about on the beach, it was a place of industry. Seeing people using it in a leisurely way, when first and foremost it’s a place for work, that grates. So there’s almost a moral judgement: you have the luxury of time to play around, but we need the water to make a living. I’ve come to understand that it can generate a bit of friction. 

There’s something exciting about the waterfront as common ground though, as the physical place for people to come together, because of its status in between. At the minute, aside from the working harbour, parts of it feel unexciting and inhospitable. People say, why would I want to occupy that middle ground, there’s nothing there? We need to change not only what we put in that space, but what it means to people and how it can reflect them. 

Let’s talk about Raise the Sails, the harbour festival on 20th April, the project finale.

It’s a free, daytime festival with food, live music and exciting activities for all ages, held at the Unexpected Garden on Saturday 20th April, 11am-2pm. There’s a very special event at 12 noon, so come down early!

I have a lot of hope for this, bringing people together. Stranraer has a long history of festivals – it’s a language the community speaks. It’ll be creatively out of the ordinary but really enjoyable, something people will remember. This is my final chance to plant a seed in those knots, and reach people I’ve missed. 

Food, music, activities for kids – we’re listening to the necessities then adding so much more. I’m hoping the legacy continues to unfold quite slowly over the coming months. That those seeds start to grow.

And finally, why should folk join us at Raise the Sails? 

For the sake of sheer nosiness, just pop down – you’re going to get a free meal! Be open to something you might not expect. It’s an opportunity to come together. And anyway, what else are you doing on a Saturday morning?!

See you there. Bring your hopes, dreams, friends, and family. We can raise the sails together. 

‘Raise The Sails’

A special community festival taking place in the Unexpected Garden, Stranraer

Saturday 20 April 

11am – 2pm

Categories
News Project Updates

Raising the Sails and Raising the Game

Written by Anne Waggot Knott, Project Researcher and Reporter

A spotlight on the work of community artist, Maya Rose Edwards, in Stranraer.

Diving into Stranraer’s history paints an evocative picture. A proud port town and a vibrant, prosperous meeting place. Its connection to the sea meant connections right across the world.

This rich history, full of local stories, memories and reflections are explored in the work of artist Maya-Rose Edwards. Commissioned and supported by The Stove Network, Maya is using their creative practice to spark new ideas about Stranraer’s waterfront and how it can once again form a vital part of the community, infrastructure, and identity of the town.

It’s been years since the all-important ferry terminal was moved to Cairnryan and, following a fire at Ayr station over six months ago, the train from Glasgow doesn’t currently stop at its unique waterfront destination on the East Pier. Maya’s project, ‘Harbour’, has identified the challenges faced by these changes. Through creative consultations and engagement activities with local people, they’ve supported parts of this community to continue to grow in confidence, to express their opinions and to work collaboratively to lead the change they want to see in their town. 

Research shows that proximity to the coast boosts our health and wellbeing, yet Stranraer’s wide roads, car parks and security fencing separate the town from the seashore. Despite this, the community has responded to the provocations initiated by Maya’s approach, galvanising the town’s fighting spirit, to reconnect with, revitalise and reimagine Stranraer’s iconic waterfront.

It only takes a tiny bit of research to understand that Stranraer has been let down again and again. Grand plans for the waterfront have been unveiled before, or built, removed, or fallen into decline. Promises made but rarely sustained. But, despite the departure of the final ferry, there remains a canny vibrancy in Stranraer, a strong sense of place and pride, locals and incomers, warmth and tradition, prosperity, and innovation. It’s a wonderful place to be. Yet all this potential seems somewhat unrecognised by a very specific combination of circumstances, policy decisions, and an apathy borne of a long history of false starts. 

Urban Collective Presenting at a Creative Stranraer Vision + Action Meeting

But now if feels as if the tide is turning. Strong glimmers of hope are arriving. There’s a cumulative explosion of funding and progress right now, much of it driven by arts, culture and sport: Creative Stranraer, the George Hotel, the Unexpected Garden, the Urban Collective, the Stanctuary, Spring Fling Rural Mural, the new Water Sports Centre, Dumfries & Galloway Council and various community groups are working in conjunction with Stranraer’s Place Plan and associated activities. This is a huge opportunity to rethink the waterfront. It’s time to seize the moment. 

That’s exactly what Maya has helped people do over the last six months.

Maya has delivered collaborative arts activities and conversations with over 500 participants. Children and families built a Sea Witch from coastal plastic gathered by the Beach Cleaners – you can see it in the Harbourmaster’s Office window; newly-empowered college students painted a guerrilla mural showing just how much they love Oor Wee Toon; drop-in visitors set hopes and dreams afloat in paper boats, and young people made Portholes to the Future.

At the same time, unexpected installations appeared. Mysterious doorways arrived along the seafront overnight, dreamlike portals for us to depart from the present and arrive in an imagined future. Silhouettes emerged on the security fencing at the East Pier, inviting us to take ownership of that wasteland once again.

Throughout, Maya worked deeply in and with the community. Everything has been co-created. Each work involved reaching out and forging new partnerships, listening to Stranraer and building layers of understanding.

All these interventions have brought people together and sparked impassioned conversations about the waterfront. Maya encouraged an openness about the challenges and frustrations, but also reignited hopes, dreams and actions.

We’re looking forward to ‘Raise the Sails’, a free waterfront festival in April. This will be a culmination of all the work so far, a chance to enjoy food, music, performance and a bonanza of community ideas.

‘Raise The Sails’

A special community festival taking place in the Unexpected Garden, Stranraer

Saturday 20 April

11am – 2pm

Categories
News Opportunities

Creative Stranraer – Job Opportunity

(This opportunity is now closed)

Our friends at Creative Stranraer are looking for a dynamic and entrepreneurial Hub Coordinator to support our Creative Community Hub in the centre of Stranraer.

Role: Creative Stranraer Hub Coordinator

Hours: 15 hours per week, days and times to be arranged

Salary: £22,000 per annum pro rata (£12.09 per hour)

Term: 6 months fixed-term contract initially (may be extended, depending on funding)

Role Purpose: 

The Creative Stranraer Hub provides a space for the local community to participate in a range of creative activity, run by, with and for the people of Stranraer and The Rhins. Our Hub is a space where people can also access signposting to other projects, initiatives, and volunteering opportunities that welcomes anyone and everyone.

Main Responsibilities:

  • To manage the day to day running of the Creative Stranraer Hub
  • Provide support to the Creative Stranraer volunteer programme
  • To promote and manage room bookings of our space
  • To meet visitors and members of the community with a polite and friendly manner, offering excellent customer service
  • To provide information and signposting to visitors and members of the community
  • Act as the point of contact for all enquiries
  • To support the Creative Stranraer Arts & Engagement Officer with planning and implementing events and activities taking place in the hub
  • Liaising with the Communications and Marketing team, ensuing relevant information is passed on to support the outreach aims of Creative Stranraer
  • To support with basic administration tasks
  • Promote the charity in a positive manner to other businesses and services, encouraging joined up working where possible
  • To undertake other appropriate tasks needed to support the running of the project

Person Specification:

Essential:

  • Excellent organisational and coordination skills
  • Outstanding communication skills both verbal and written
  • Proficiency in digital administration and event promotion tools such as Microsoft office, social media and email
  • Customer service skills
  • Excellent multitasking and task prioritisation skills

If you are interested in this role and want to find out more before applying, please email; [email protected]

How to Apply:

We encourage you to apply in a way that you feel most comfortable or you can fire over your CV and a short covering letter, or video, to [email protected],  explaining why you’re interested and what you could bring to the role.

Just make sure that your application is in by 5pm, Wednesday 10th January 2024

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

Sound like the right job for you? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.


About Creative Stranraer

Creative Stranraer is a project based in the Southwest of Scotland which focuses on supporting innovation and change in the historic town of Stranraer and the surrounding areas. Using creativity to connect people with their local environment, Creative Stranraer works in partnership with local and regional organisations to develop new opportunities and projects, encouraging communities to take part in the culture and enterprise to support a new vision for the town.

Categories
News Opportunities

Commission: Waterfront Artist Stranraer

(This Opportunity is Now Closed)

The Stove Network is seeking a creative practitioner(s) to design and develop a programme of their own creative work which will be delivered with and for the community of Stranraer.

About the Commission:

Fee:

A fee of £10,000 is offered for this commission. This fee is inclusive of all expenses, materials, and VAT (if applicable)

Timescale:

The work is to be completed within a six-month window – mutually agreed milestones at beginning of commission (e.g., research period, schedule of events planned by Creative Stranraer and how work of Waterfront artist fits with this). 

Timeline: October – March 2024 

The purpose of the commission is to creatively engage the local people in the town’s waterfront area.

The creative practitioner is invited to utilise their own creative practice (and/or collaborate with others), to inspire a new conversation in the town about the waterfront and how it could once again form a vital part of the town’s future.

The commission will form part of a wider process of re-imagining the Waterfront and the Waterfront Artist will join a small team comprising:

  • Arts and Engagement Officer (AEO) – who has been working within the Stranraer community gathering the creative sector and working with them on creative community engagement with local people as part of the revitalisation of Stranraer. The AEO will support the Waterfront Artist in building relationships with local people/groups/partners, communications/marketing, and event production.
  • Research, Recording and Reporting (R, R+R) commission holder – this is a special commission to support the work of the Waterfront Artist by helping to gathering information research leads that surface through the work and write up all the information/ideas and opinions that are generated through the creative work with the Waterfront.
  • Support from The Stove Network – The Stove Network has been working in Stranraer supporting community-led regeneration projects for two years. The Stove is a leading Creative Placemaking organisation in Scotland and will actively support the creative engagement work on Stranraer Waterfront with the full range of services offered by the full Stove team (from production and communications to partnership building and operational systems)
  • Support from DG Council and local community groups – the Local Authority is working in partnership with a diverse range of local community groups as a broad-based community leadership group to deliver capital projects(including Waterfront projects such as Stranraer Marina, Stranraer Watersports Centre and a marine research facility) that will underpin a future Stranraer. This group will support the creative engagement work on the Waterfront with information, contacts, partnership events and assets.

This commission builds upon the Dandelion community garden project, which occupied a section of greenspace located by the waterfront as a community garden. The ‘Unexpected Garden’ was utilised as a community events space, hosting workshops, gigs and other events. 

Who we’re looking for:

We are in search of an experienced creative practitioner(s) with a strong background in community-embedded and social arts practices. 

An ability to effectively engage and acknowledge the diverse voices of Stranraer’s populace is vital. 

We seek an audacious individual(s) who can facilitate and envision exciting possibilities, instilling fresh connections with one of the town’s most valuable assets.

The commissioned practitioner(s) will have access to the Creative Stranraer ‘Hub’ located in the town’s High Street as well as significant support in community engagement as well as strategic interaction with the town’s established community events and festivals.

It is hoped the creative practitioner(s) will interact with Creative Stranraer’s programme of activities, weaving thematic considerations and activities, offering a diversity of experiences to ensure as wide a range of the community’s voices are heard.

What you’ll be doing:

The Creative Practitioner(s) will be expected to engage the community through creative activities, installations, interactive elements, and inspire conversation towards re-thinking the future use of the waterfront as a connected, culturally significant feature in the future of Stranraer.

The creative practitioner(s) are expected to:

  • Embrace the Waterfront’s inherent value and its potential for rejuvenation, using your creative lens to inspire new ideas, spark conversations, and incite actions that will lead to its revival. (Background: up until 10 years ago the waterfront was predominantly an ‘industrial’ environment as the embarkation point for the Stena Line vehicle and passenger ferry to Belfast)
  • Reflect the value of the Waterfront and the potential therein through a creative lens to inspire new ideas, conversations, and actions towards its regeneration.

Required outputs:

  • A series of interventions situated at the Waterfront to encourage a new relationship to the site. 
  • Contribution to one large-scale public event situated at or near the Waterfront at the commission’s conclusion (NB additional budget is held to produce this event)

How to apply:

Deadline for applications: Thursday 24th August 2023 at 5pm

We would like to hear from creative practitioners/artists with an initial response to the project in the form of a short proposal.

We are looking for proposals from creative practitioners/artists working in any discipline.

We are interested in processes that are responsive and adaptive, demonstrate a commitment to collaborative working and give a clear idea of the creative skills and tools you bring to developing this. We are open to joint proposals or those from performance collectives but would want to hear how this might impact on the financial support for the individual freelancers involved.

We are open to video/recorded sound applications that address the brief and would encourage those who may have additional access requirements or support needs, both in application and anticipated through delivery of the project, to please let us know what we can do to make this opportunity as accessible as possible.

TO APPLY:

Please send by email to [email protected] with a maximum file size of 10MB, before Thursday 24th August 2023 at 5pm and include the following:

  • Subject line: Waterfront Artist Stranraer
  • A statement of no more than 600 words stating what interests you about the Waterfront Artist commission including a brief description of your practice and an initial idea of how you might approach the project.
  • Current CV (max 2 pages)
  • Up to 4 examples of past work that you feel best supports your application – this can be in any form (images, films, texts, testimonials, links to online video or other online resources). 
  • If you are willing, please also complete our Equalities Monitoring form as part of your application:

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

We will always send an email acknowledging receipt of any applications. If you do not receive an email, please contact us again. If you require specific support when making an application, please let us know. 

If you have any questions you’d like answered before submitting your application, please contact us by email at: [email protected]


Background

Stranraer is at a pivotal point in its history. Ten years ago, the Stena Line ferry moved its operations from Stranraer to run their route to Northern Ireland from Cairnryan. A period of decline has followed for the town, but now Stranraer stands on the brink of a new chapter in its story with investment secured for a series of significant capital projects. These include projects for the Waterfront: a marina, a watersports centre, and a marine research facility. In the town centre the centrepiece project is the re-development of the former George Hotel into a culture and community centre including a bouldering centre and bunkhouse. These projects are all stitched into the community-led Place Plan for the town. The local community have worked in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council and South of Scotland Enterprise, and this commission is part of an ongoing commitment to keep the community right at the heart of the future vision for Stranraer.

Categories
News Opportunities

Commission: Researcher, Recorder & Reporter

Stranraer Waterfront Creative Community Engagement Project

(This Opportunity is Now Closed)

The Stove Network is looking for someone to join a project team tasked with creatively engaging the community of Stranraer in the development of the town’s waterfront area. 

The Researcher, Recorder and Reporter (R, R+R) will work alongside a creative team who will deliver a programme of interactive and fun activities in the town designed to engage local people in thinking differently about their harbour area and contributing their own ideas about what they would like to see included in the environment in future. 

About the role:

Fee: The maximum fee offered for this work is £3000 (inclusive of all expenses/VAT etc)

Location: The work will be based in Stranraer 

Timeline: October 2023 – March 2024

The commission will form part of a wider process of re-imagining the Waterfront and the R, R & R will join a small team comprising:

  • Arts and Engagement Officer (AEO) – who has been working within the Stranraer community gathering the creative sector and working with them on creative community engagement with local people as part of the revitalisation of Stranraer. The AEO will support the Waterfront Artist in building relationships with local people/groups/partners, communications/marketing, and event production.
  • Waterfront Artist – the R, R+R will work closely with the Waterfront Artist who will begin work on the project at the same time and have a brief to engage the community through creative activities, installations, interactive elements, and facilitative conversation towards re-thinking the future use of the waterfront as a connected, culturally significant asset positioning its future as a significant component towards the regeneration of Stranraer. Most of the work of the R, R+R will be in association with and in reaction to the work of the Waterfront Artist.
  • Support from The Stove Network – The Stove Network have been working in Stranraer supporting community-led regeneration projects for 2 years. They are a leading Creative Placemaking organisation in Scotland and will actively support the creative engagement work on Stranraer Waterfront with the full range of services offered by the full Stove team (from production to communications, from partnership building to operational systems)
  • Support from DG Council and local community groups – the Local Authority and is working in a diverse partnership with local community groups as a broad-based community leadership group to deliver capital projects (including Waterfront projects such as Stranraer Marina, Stranraer Watersports Centre, and a marine research facility) that will underpin a future Stranraer. This group will support the creative engagement work on the Waterfront with information, contacts, partnership events and assets.

The job of the R, R+R will include:

  • Shadowing the activities of the creative team
  • Taking notes of conversations with people engaging in the project
  • Following upon leads suggested through interactions with members of the community
  • Recording basic demographic information on those participating in project activities
  • Looking at the history of the town for clues to the future and building on initiatives already underway in the town
  • Contributing to the development of activities and events by researching the background to themes/places/ideas etc

The final element of the R+R commission will be to compile a report on the community engagement project which can contribute to the development of designs for Stranraer’s Waterfront.

Who we’re looking for:

This commission would suit someone with experience in: 

  • information gathering/organising
  • writing reports
  • working as part of a team
  • It would be an advantage, but not essential, to have experience of working on creative/community projects.

How to apply:

To apply please contact [email protected] in the first instance to arrange an informal chat about the project. 

Deadline for applications: Thursday 24th August 2023 at 5pm

Thereafter you will be asked for a formal application via email to: [email protected]

We are open to video/recorded sound applications that address the brief and would encourage those who may have additional access requirements or support needs, both in application and anticipated through delivery of the project, to please let us know what we can do to make this opportunity as accessible as possible.

When applying, please include the following:

  • Subject line Researcher, Recorder and Reporter Commission
  • A statement about how you would approach the project
  • A day rate/estimate of time required.
  • A description of past/ relevant experience
  • The names and contact details of two referees
  • If you are willing, please also complete our Equalities Monitoring form as part of your application:

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

We will always send an email acknowledging receipt of any applications. If you do not receive an email, please contact us again. If you require specific support when making an application, please let us know. 


Background

Background

Stranraer is at a pivotal point in its history. Ten years ago, the Stena Line ferry moved its operations from Stranraer to run their route to Northern Ireland from Cairnryan. A period of decline has followed for the town, but now Stranraer stands on the brink of a new chapter in its story with investment secured for a series of significant capital projects. These include projects for the Waterfront: a marina, a watersports centre, and a marine research facility. In the town centre the centrepiece project is the re-development of the former George Hotel into a culture and community centre including a bouldering centre and bunkhouse. These projects are all stitched into the community-led Place Plan for the town. The local community have worked in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council and South of Scotland Enterprise, and this commission is part of an ongoing commitment to keep the community right at the heart of the future vision for Stranraer.

.

Categories
News Project Updates

Creative Stranraer

Thursday 13th April saw the opening of Creative Stranraer on the corner of George Street and King Street in the centre of the town.

The space is a former shop unit that has been renovated by owner Mr Gillespie to achieve the vision of creatives in the town coordinated by Arts and Engagement Officer Janet Jones.

The opening night was a joyously happy occasion attended by a mixture of people from the creative sector, those involved in regeneration initiatives and the curious/willing.

There were speeches, music from Stacey Joy and family and charcoal drawing with the hub’s first artist-in-residence Jane Fraser.

Creative Stranraer will host artist gatherings, workshops, events, exhibitions and become an HQ for information and exchange on all things creative that are going in in the town.

Creative Stranraer is imagined as a prototype hub that will lead into the much-anticipated redevelopment of the former George Hotel as a new cultural and community space for the town and surrounding area.

The whole Arts and Engagement project is woven into the George redevelopment initiative, to create momentum and organisation in the local creative sector prior to the George opening, it has been managed by Stranraer Development Trust (SDT) with funding from DG Council.

The Stove is commissioned by SDT to support the Arts and Engagement Officer and provide guidance and direction from our experience in Creative Placemaking regionally and nationally.

The Arts and Engagement project began in June 2022 and has been shaped around three strands of activity:

  1. Community Engagement and Co-Creation – Janet has convened a highly successful and ongoing series community gatherings called ‘Vision and Action’ meetings with attendances typically 50+ local folk coming together to share ideas, hear about progress and for local businesses/projects to showcase what they are doing. Janet has also held a number of dedicated creative meetings for different groups within the cultural and creative sector locally.
  2. Public Art Projects – to date the most highly visible public art project has been the mural on the Creative Stranraer hub building by artist Tragic O’Hara. Tragic has also undertaken workshops with local groups of young people and is now working with the Stair Park Skate Park group. Another public art initiative is the photo and poetry wall next to Gateway to Galloway at the harbour. In the pipeline is a planned Street Art festival for 2024 and numerous other small-scale projects bringing together local creative practitioners in partnership with businesses and community groups.
  3. The Creative Hub – now open at the top of King Street!

All of the above activity is designed around the principle of the creative sector taking a lead in the regeneration of Stranraer by injecting some energy, vibrancy, sound and colour into the town and in the process inspiring and bringing people together and also creating opportunities for people to express their own creativity and support people to embark on creative careers in the local area.

The Arts and Engagement project has also been working in alongside the creation of the ‘community place plan’ for the town.

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