A major report into creative placemaking by Dumfries and Galloway’s 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.

The 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.

The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries

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.

Katharine Wheeler from The Stove Network and lead on the Embers report commented: “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.”

The Embers report was produced with the support of South of Scotland Economic Partnership (the forerunner of the new South of Scotland Enterprise agency) and Carnegie Trust UK. Embers involved six months detailed consultation with people and projects working in local communities including Dumfries, Sanquhar, Lockerbie, Langholm, Moniaive, Stranraer and Wigtown.

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 a genuinely bespoke economic policy 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.

Pippa Coutts, Research and Development consultant for Carnegie Trust UK commented: “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.”

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.

Katharine Wheeler goes on to say: “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 report is available to download by visiting: https://thestove.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/EMBERS_Spread.pdf

If people have ideas about how this vision can be taken forward please do get in touch with Katharine by emailing katharine@thestove.org

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