The Stove Network in Dumfries have won a place for Dumfries and Galloway in a major Scottish initiative for culture and creativity to play a key role in the nation’s long-term recovery from the pandemic.
The Culture Collective programme will see £6M invested by Scottish Government in 26 regional projects around the country, developed in partnership with Creative Scotland. The Dumfries & Galloway project ‘What We Do Now’ was granted the maximum award of £300,000.
The principle of Culture Collective is to pay creative freelancers, who have seen livelihoods decimated by the pandemic, to work in community settings and support local groups who have also been badly impacted by Covid-19. The Stove Network worked together with agencies such as Dumfries & Galloway Council, South of Scotland Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Third Sector D&G and local arts organisations to bring together a proposal for Dumfries and Galloway that will see creative practitioners employed to work for up to a year in Sanquhar, Dalbeattie, Langholm, Stranraer and Northwest Dumfries.
Orchestrator of The Stove Network, Matt Baker commented: ‘This is wonderful news and a very powerful recognition of the way that Dumfries and Galloway considers culture and creativity as something that is integrated into the heart of the way we do things in communities, in the economy and in the environment in our region. Culture is not something for an elite; it is something that belongs to all of us and something that we all make together. Culture Collective is part of our country’s commitment to ‘build back better’ – it uses years of dedicated work at grassroots level as the foundation for a major pilot project to devolve decision-making and funding to local level and create the conditions for partnership working across sectors to ensure the legacy of this approach.’
In the coming weeks, The Stove Network will coordinate development work in the five D&G communities towards creating detailed briefs for creatives to work within. It is anticipated that adverts for people to work on the project will be published in mid-March. The Stove’s project for Culture Collective is called ‘What We Do Now’ and builds on the group’s ‘Embers: Creative Placemaking for the South of Scotland’ report which was published in April 2020. Embers highlights the central role that culture and creativity are playing in community regeneration projects around the region and presents a case for investing in a networked and integrated approach to placemaking in Dumfries and Galloway, employing creativity as a key tool in community planning.
Martin O’Neill, Artistic Director of The Stove said: ‘‘What We Do Now’ is all about imagining today, the world we wish to exist in and making the steps towards creating that world now. A world shaped by the gifts and ideas of the communities we belong to and serve. It explores and brings to the surface, the voices previously unheard in our region so that we can empower ideas and communities, through creativity, to celebrate and cherish the places that we live.’
All of the communities involved in the ‘What We Do Now’ project were partners in The Stove’s research project ‘Embers: Creative Placemaking in South Scotland’. All have identified sections of their own community where COVID has accentuated existing disadvantage and exclusion and have some experience of working culturally. Each community will be supported to commission freelance creative practitioners who will co-create original projects with people in the targeted sections of that community.
Yvonne Barber, Project Manager for A’ the Airts in Sanquhar commented: ‘A’ the Airts is excited to be participating in this exciting collaborative project. Our community in Upper Nithsdale will benefit immensely from A’ the Airts having further artistic capacity to work with local communities. Partnership and sharing good practice can only be positive, strengthening and building peoples’ skills, and more importantly their well-being.’