Image source: Creatives Spaces
Creative Spaces, a programme for creatives under 30 in Dumfries, is based at the Stove Network, and now has over 500 Instagram followers, and 800 followers on Facebook. But the community organisation didn’t begin with this following. It started off as “a real grass roots initiative” says Creative Spaces’ Producer, Jenna Macrory. “It was called the ‘Young Stove’ and it was held in a basement!”
From its underground beginnings, Young Stove evolved into the art events programme: blueprint100. Run by a Curatorial Team, blueprint100 ran without a pre-determined model of how to employ local, young artists. “Sometimes people would have to come in and they would have to get funding, and sometimes we would have funding pots allocated for them,” explains Macrory, “it wasn’t a defined role.” As well as employing a curatorial team, blueprint100 held a weekly ‘Melting Pot’ event which transformed the Stove’s cafe into a collaborative work environment for practicing and developing a variety of crafts.
Previously part of blueprint100’s curatorial team, Macrory says what was most inspiring about working there, “is that it empowered young people to take risks. We really got to test the water.”
Through this testing and risk-taking, blueprint100 identified the needs of young, emerging creative professionals in Dumfries and Galloway - and decided to evolve again. “The Melting Pot idea was great, and people were making artwork, and that is great and has its own value,” explains Macrory, “but we wanted to take that collaborative, social-art idea, and tease it out a bit more, and to be doing creative projects that address issues in the town.”
After a series of conversations and consultations, blueprint100 decided to change its name again, and rebrand for a fresh start: Creative Spaces was born. “It’s been quite a journey since the days in the basement!” says Macrory.
Image Source: Creative Spaces
Creative Spaces is now up and running as a community program specifically for empowering emerging artists under 30 through peer-to-peer networks and mentoring, development, training, and events. It started off this year with the digital events ‘Creative Conversations’. At the start of the month, Creative Spaces has been holding online discussions around issues in the arts, followed by further exploration through an artist talk, visit, or another online event. The final two weeks of the month are then opportunities for creatives to respond to the social and cultural issues that arise from the discussions, says Macrory.
The online discussions create a conversational space to explore topics “like mental health, and hustle culture, and how hard you have to work in the arts,” says Macrory, adding that these topics are often talked about between creatives in the pub, but the further question of, “are we addressing these issues within Dumfries?” is sometimes left out.
Creative Spaces hopes to provide opportunities to explore these issues further by taking the creative energy of blueprint100 and connecting it directly to issues within the local community. “When connected to a community art has another layer to it,” adds Macrory.
Creative Spaces will also have a different model to blueprint100’s undefined curatorial team: it is hiring three new, paid, Associate Artists (18-30) for 10 months. The three chosen artists will be supported to grow and deliver creative work as part of the Stove Network’s annual programme, including helping with the local festivals, Nithraid, and Wild Goose Festival. The Associate Artists will also develop an individual project to showcase in March 2022.
By providing paid and volunteer opportunities, specifically for under 30s, with the Stove Networks’s support, Creative Spaces aims to fill the gap in training and development for young creatives. “There’s lots of initiatives to get into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, but you can work really hard for not a lot of money in the arts,” explains Macrory.
Macrory recalls that when she left school the Stove Network, “didn’t have the kind of weight behind it that it does now, so it is great if young people now are able to come out of school, and to see Creative Spaces, and see that there are opportunities to be actively doing things in the community, and to see that there are young creatives leading it, and to then hopefully think that maybe they could join in.”
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