Artists Unveil Plans for Community Engagement in Five Towns Across Dumfries & Galloway

A cohort of ten artists have recently undertaken commissions throughout Dumfries & Galloway. Working alongside community organisations based across the region, the artists have unveiled their initial responses, contributing in part to a national covid recovery plan, funded by the Scottish Government. Together, they are using creative engagement techniques and activity to involve a wide spread of communities in exploring the future possibilities of our region’s towns.

Spearheaded by Scotland’s only arts-led development trust, The Stove Network, ‘What We Do Now’ (WWDN) is a bold, collaborative project working with creative freelancers/artists, communities, and local community organisations across the region.

Creative practitioners have been commissioned to co-develop creative projects with communities, acknowledging and celebrating the voices less heard in our region. The project will ignite and inspire new imaginative possibilities with, for and about the communities involved, actively working to ‘build back better’ in the aftermath of COVID-19.

What We Do Now is one of 26 participatory arts projects taking place across Scotland as part of the of Culture Collective programme. Funded by Scottish Government emergency COVID-19 funds through Creative Scotland and running from March 2021-October 2022, each Culture Collective project is shaped by local communities alongside artists and creative organisations.

Of the project, Matt Baker, Orchestrator of The Stove Network says:

“The Stove is working as the lead regional partner for the What We Do Now project, we are supporting each Place Hub within the five towns involved in the project, sharing our 10 years’ experience of Creative Placemaking that has led to initiatives like the community regeneration project Midsteeple Quarter for Dumfries High Street.

The principle of What We Do Now is that the community in each of the five towns takes the lead in determining the direction of their project working with their resident artists and a place hub who will support and facilitate that process”

WWDN Project Update Oct 2021

Currently in the research and development stage of the yearlong initiative, each of the five towns represented by the project, in collaboration with the commissioned artists and place hubs, have begun to outline their respective project approaches:


Working with Stranraer Millennium Centre, a hub for a diverse range of community activities; artists, Hope London and Rory Laycock have begun to connect with local community groups, testing ideas and encouraging participation through a series of activities involving visual art, animation, music, and new technologies. Their aim is to build into their project the creativity and ideas of people of Stranraer.


Artistic performers Martin Danziger and Keira Manson are working with CDDF to engage the community through conversations and active participation, centred around community interests and needs. Currently producing inclusive circus themed activities, they aim to build a vision that incorporates community arts as central to the development of Castle Douglas as a family friendly town and a place for creative play.


‘Living in Flats Together’ sees artists Alice Francis, Rosie Giblin and Andy Brooke work with LIFT D&G and the residents of six housing blocks on Dunlop Road in Lochside. Focusing on the first of a series of events for the residents which will involve food and creative activities, they aim to co-create, with residents, a shared set of aims for their year together.


OutPost Arts will work with artists Jim Buchanan and Sian Yeshe to re-activate existing play and meeting spaces, inspire new imaginative possibilities for the future use of these areas, and create new digital spaces for young people exploring the role of film and filmmaking in the creative expression of young people’s voices focusing on themes of ‘Ownership & Voice’.


A’ the Airts, is a multipurpose arts centre working with the wider community of Sanquhar in the production and development of community festivals and art projects. Artists Jack Stancliffe and Duo Saskia Coulson and Colin Tennant are working with A’ the Airts to engage young people between 14-25 in a creative project, exploring young people’s relationship to their town and their voice within it.

The project is being followed by documentary duo, Patrick Rooney of Dear Friends Films and Kirstin McEwan; a Dumfries born photographer. Their work will form part of the overall delivery and will regularly communicate the themes of wider WWDN project and the importance of the outcomes to the people within each town.

For more information on the WWDN Project and for details of each Place Hub and profiles of each artist involved, please visit www.thestove.org/what-we-do-now

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